Soundcloud deleted Discover Dark Beauty along with several other music curation channels without notice. I’m wondering, if this means an attempt to take a bite off repost channels’ revenue. Looking at previous attempts to monetize, I’d say the guys in Berlin are starring into the barrel of a gun yet again (if true).
This is highly speculative and subjective content.
It seems to be a calm afternoon. I try to have a look on some cumulative stats of Dark Beauty while on the go, but it won’t load. I dismiss this as connection error. Two hours later, friends start messaging me they cannot find Discover Dark Beauty (I call it DBR internally, so I’m gonna stick to that as an acronym). Houston, we got a problem!
How DBR worked
I was launching DBR with one intention in mind: Instead of 4 niche-specific channels I’d need to follow personally, I wanted to group them into one feed, and filter it by quality. The backend consisted of simple APIs that periodically fetch newly posted tracks, and evaluate their popularity (comments, posts, reposts). The best tracks bubbled through the threshold. I logged into Soundcloud, opened today’s batch. After doing one more manual QA of each track, I have liked and reposted them on DBR (manually).
Surprise surprise: during testing, I found out that there is a wide overlap in people who like and repost almost every single track from that. The Dark Beauty niche is real! 🙂
Where I might have crossed the line was what happened afterwards. I started following people who were active on the tracks on DBR. As a result, I would get data, and get them to follow back. Soundcloud usually gives you a warning strike if you follow too many accounts at once, but I already know you’ll never get a warning if you reach out to 99 people per day. Noteworthy: you do not follow anyone twice – that raises flags. I was hoping to get an audience big enough to be able to pitch producers for eventual premieres on DBM. I won’t lie to you, if this would have worked and artists would later on start pitching their tracks to DBM, we could start charging them for the service – as some channels do.
Lesson learned: A music curation channel should serve the audience and help grow it, organically. I have crossed this off from the possible direct revenue streams, but am going to continue building one.
What this might mean and who’s going to suffer
I really do hope it’s me who broke the Terms of Service (I’ll look into that). It might become a disaster if repost channels start to get banned. It might be a disaster for SoundCloud. You could guess, that having a big audience usually means, that you also have a big mailing list. Instead of monetizing the audiences of Progressive Astronaut, Sweet Musique and similar, they could very easily lose them. The channel gets banned? E-mail newsletter out, and the community starts to move to a new place (Spotify? Website?). Money? Gone. Audience? Gone.
Since the upcoming one is yet another “music industry hacking weekend” for me, I’m including the topic of music curation to the itinerary. While the channel is gone for good, my API is not. I only need to craft some nice UI on top and voila.
Note: This is by no means an attempt to rant on any company or subject. I just analyzed a very unusual behavior, that’s all.