SoundCloud is unique in the social media and music streaming worlds. You can follow bands and musicians like a social network, bust the basis of the platform is uploading music. This duality has lead to it becoming quite popular, especially when you add on the free to join angle.
Artists wanting to make money directly off SoundCloud, however, have had few options. It had been working great as a way to gain exposure, but it wasn’t until they added the On SoundCloud monetization option that artists could make money off their creations. I’m going to help you understand how you can make money on SoundCloud, and show you a few promotion ideas to get you going.
Making money on SoundCloud: The On SoundCloud program
The On SoundCloud partner program is quite similar to YouTube’s Partner Program. Artists are paid when users view or listen to ads while enjoying the music the artists upload. The general idea is that artists are paid for each ad that plays during one of their tracks in the same manner as YouTube’s Partner Program shares revenue.
The great thing about the On SoundCloud program is that it goes directly to the artists. There’s no middle company, record company, or brand getting in the way. Artists have a direct connection to their music making money.
The tiers of the On SoundCloud program
As with everything online, a few tiers of service have been created. Each one offers bands different services, has different costs associated with it, but only one will get you paid for your music:
Partner: This free account is for beginners. There is no monetization option. What you get is:
- 3 hours of free uploads of your tracks
- Basic stats to start growing your following
- The ability to join their Insider group for free tips
There’s no money to be made here directly, but you can work on getting your tracks heard and your name out there.
Pro/Pro Unlimited: There is only one difference between Pro, and Pro Unlimited. The Pro Unlimited offers you an unlimited amount of uploads, while Pro offers 6 hours. The similarities are:
- The ability to showcase your 5 best tracks by pinning them to the top of your listing
- Geo-based statistics to see where your fans are
- Social statistics to see which platforms are being used to embed your tracks
The other difference is, you guessed it, the cost. Pro costs £3.99/month or £35/year. Pro Unlimited, with unlimited track upload space, costs £8/month or £75/year.
Premier: This has all of the features of Pro Unlimited, plus a little more:
- An account manager who will help you make your account even better
- Exclusive music promotion opportunities for your music and profile
- The ability to make money on your SoundCloud music
Yes, the Premier option is the only way you can currently make money on SoundCloud. How do you get it? It is invite only at the moment, but they will be expanding it to everyone soon. If you weren’t invited already, SoundCloud has told artists what they can do right now to be ready when it opens up:
- Be on good standing within the SoundCloud community
- Have proven their ability to build an engaged audience
- Be able to show their growth over time
In short, you need to get to work on the tips for getting more SoundCloud plays and followers below!
How to get more SoundCloud followers and be invited to On SoundCloud Premier
The first step you will have to take to get SoundCloud followers is to get one of their paid accounts. Yes, you’re paying money to make money…isn’t that always the way?
The difference here is that the Pro accounts will not only make money when you’re invited to Premier, but they’ll make you money as you find out where you fans are and go there to play concerts, send people to your merchandise stores, and maybe even get them to buy your music!
Here are the social and technical things you’ll need to do to start building that engaged audience up to the point where you’re invited to the On SoundCloud Premier program:
- Creating favorites lists: This is your opportunity to connect with your fans and show them the music you enjoy. To really make it work, contact the bands you add and let them know. They just may check you out and add you to their own list. Think of it as being their supporting act as you build an audience.
- Get social and engage on tracks: You already listen to music. Listening to it on SoundCloud, and giving real feedback that’s constructive, can help you get noticed. Fans listening to the track can see that you’re knowledgable about music and become interested in you. The bands themselves can again become interested in you and return the favor.
- Work on your images: Having a profile and header image that works is essential. You need to have your band name and logo large enough in your profile image so that people can make it out in the thumbnail image on the homepage, and in search results. The header image should include some piece of relevant information. “Follow us for exclusive tracks,” or even “Our new album comes out August 6, 2015!” Always work on conveying as much information as you can, as simply as you can.
- Join relevant groups: SoundCloud is one big social community. Being a part of groups that are relevant to your band can help you find fans in a number of ways. First, joining genre specific boards helps you find people who like your specific music. Joining location specific boards helps you find fans in your hometown, or in the next stop of your tour.
- Tag, tag, tag: When you upload tracks you have a chance to add tags to your music. They work like hashtags on Twitter. Feel free to tag other bands that sound like you, musicians who did guest appearances on the track, radio stations that play you, and producers you worked with.
Did you read all that and think “Aw, man. You mean I have to work?” Yep, you gotta hustle, young playa! The benefit, in the end, is multiple revenue streams opening up – including a way to make money on SoundCloud directly with On SoundCloud Premier.
Matthew is the social media analyst on the Devumi Social Media blog. You can find out more about getting SoundCloud followers with Devumi here, stop by Blog.Devumi.com, or go to the jungle with the @Devumi Gorilla on Twitter.