Ever since the dawn of music streaming services on the internet, from YouTube to Spotify and Soundcloud, there has always been one issue which has plagued listeners over the years: copyright. The problem with these copyright laws has never really been with the artists, as now a days most artists main source of income isn’t from their music- but more so from touring, merchandise and practically anything else but the music. It’s always been the labels, really the four majors (EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group) which have caused the problems with copyright laws. It especially gets messy and complicated when the rights of the music aren’t with the artist in question, but are with the label who can control and distribute their music as they please.
Over the recent months there has been one streaming site at the heart of electronic music which has come under some heavy fire from many within the industry. That site is Soundcloud. What has always been a go-to source for the latest up and coming artists, as well as established artists, Soundcloud sadly isn’t the site it once was with their recent partnership with Zefr seemingly being the nail in the coffin. Zefr acts as a content takedown company either automatically removing or placing ads on tracks which are copyrighted-including remixes and mashups. Recently Hardwell, who has definitely not been the first and for sure won’t be the last in a series of artists slamming Soundcloud posted this tweet only adding to the flame which was lit several months ago:
@SoundCloud Please guys, get your shit together. I keep getting copyright problems while it's released on my own label.
— Hardwell (@HARDWELL) October 5, 2015
Back in May there was also a huge storm over the falling out between Sony and Soundcloud, as refusal to reach a deal over royalties left many artists without their own music on the platform, the biggest in the dance community being Madeon, who called Sony out on Twitter saying they were “disconnected-from-reality.” This is only one of a number of examples of Soundcloud’s woes, as it has been entangled in a breadth of lawsuits and claims from artists and labels that their copyright terms, especially when it comes to royalties, simply aren’t fair and it’s clear that many people are turning their back on a platform which once reigned king in the electronic music realm. PRS for Music for example began to sue SC last month claiming it was infringing on PRS’ members copyrights, with over 100,000 members, it meant even more negative press for the controversial company.
The repeated lack of respect to content creators and the long list of angry labels and companies has really not been good for Soundcloud, with so many turning their back and looking at alternative streaming sites, it’s boggles the mind how long SC will last. We can only hope that the issues get sorted out very soon as it would be sad to see a site which contributed so much to electronic music over the years would end in this manner. However it isn’t all bad for the website, with many fantastic tracks still being uploaded daily. At the end of the day it might be better to look on the bright side of life and recognize that things change, and while the changes may not well be the best, there’s still always time to turn in a positive direction. And we can only look to the future for Soundcloud, however bleak it may be at present, and just pray that it returns to the former glory days.