On Thursday, SoundCloud laid off 173 of its 420 employees, closing two of its four offices, in San Francisco and London.
Cofounder and chief executive Alexander Ljung announced the layoffs in a blog post: “By reducing our costs and continuing our revenue growth, we’re on our path to profitability and in control of SoundCloud’s independent future.”
The streaming giant which laid off 40 percent of its staff Thursday, has long struggled to stay both stable and independent. But its unique contributions to music consumption can’t be overstated. In the most recent of SoundCloud’s nearly 10 years of life, the music streaming business has changed dramatically.
SoundCloud has made some disheartening, if necessary choices to stay competitive with companies reportedly interested in engulfing it. As discovery shifted from consumer to producer, Ljung and Co. had to find their place in the new world or make way. They signed deals with all three major labels in order to keep licensed music on the platform, and created a messy paid subscription service to measure up with Spotify and Apple Music. The company intruded upon our listening experience with ads in order to pay “premium” artists with ad-based revenue, all for the sake of staying independent. But it’s now burned through all the fat, and has begun to metabolize the muscle.
SoundCloud could possibly be for sale; and the streaming giant’s disappearance would perilously affect independent music.