April 4, 2019

Soundcloud as a DSP and earning potential

Lately, I've been inundated with Soundcloud ads on Twitter. Putting aside my mixed feelings about the service and its pricing, I felt compelled to do a little analysis on this provider on account of its unique position as being one of (the only?) Digital Service Providers with a cost.

A subscription model is not something I'm personally opposed to. In fact, I think it's a preferable alternative to shitty ads, popups, annoying modals, corner videos, and the other various forms of monetization that plagues the internet. Yet, in this day and age it's pretty fucking telling when a company isn't transparently sharing its numbers with you. This doubly triggers my spider sense when it's a service that has a monthly cost to boot.

From the perspective of Soundcloud as a DSP, for which you're required to pay a fee of $6 - $16 USD / month it doesn't really make sense to subscribe if you're in fact going to be losing money.

Of course the layout is a bit more complicated than this because there are numerous other factors to consider. For example, perhaps you're cool with losing a bit of money because SC can help you get onto other DSP like Spotify. Perhaps you need the extra upload time, stats, or other features that a Soundcloud Pro or Pro Unlimited package providers. Maybe you feel that in this day and age getting your music out there can open some doors to getting gigs. Or hell, maybe you are just in it for the music. Regardless, I'm just doing a really crude analysis.

Disclaimer: I'm not a math wiz. By all means @ me if my numbers are off.

Earnings Rates From Top DSP's

DSP Rate $/1k
Napster .019 $19.0
Tidal .0125 $12.5
Apple .00735 $7.35
Google .00676 $6.76
Deezer .00640 $6.40
Spotify .00437 $4.37
Amazon .00402 $4.02
Pandora .00133 $1.33
Youtube .00069 $0.69

Rates taken from Digital Music News, in USD, current as of 2019.

Soundcloud Rates*

The sketchy part is that Soundcloud doesn't publicly list their rates. Maybe they're buried. Maybe they'll happily share if I email, I'm not sure. But it's very offputting that they want me to pony up $6-16 / month but won't tell me very clearly what the revenue share breakdown is.

In lieu of actual numbers, I'm going to take data from the above table and try to guess. We can estimate what the earnings would be for 1000 plays if Soundcloud's rates are the same as Napster, as low as Youtube or somewhere in the middle.

Soundcloud Rate $/1k
High .019 $19
Average .0069355 $6.94
Low .00069 $0.69

Ultimately, I'm left with more questions than answers. What is the rate? Do you earn more/less depending on which Pro plan you're on? What if you pay for monthly vs yearly?

It's easy to see that on average, if you only get 1000 plays in a month, it might not be worth it. As mentioned, partaking in Soundcloud's Pro offerings empowers you with more than just DSP earnings.

What do you think?