The Influence of SoundCloud

Conor Borthwick, Staff Writer

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Little did the founders of SoundCloud know, back in 2007 in the city of Stockholm, Sweden, that in 10 years the entire music industry would’ve been completely revolutionized by this small music streaming service. Originally, they most likely had no idea what genres of music would utilize SoundCloud the most, but now, in 2017, it seems quite clear. As rappers like Lil Pump, XXXTentacion, and Smokepurpp are on their rapid rise to stardom, it is important to familiarize yourself with how they got where they are now. SoundCloud is the biggest reason why.Little did the founders of SoundCloud know, back in 2007 in the city of Stockholm, Sweden, that in 10 years the entire music industry would’ve been completely revolutionized by this small music streaming service. Originally, they most likely had no idea what genres of music would utilize SoundCloud the most, but now, in 2017, it seems quite clear. As rappers like Lil Pump, XXXTentacion, and Smokepurpp are on their rapid rise to stardom, it is important to familiarize yourself with how they got where they are now. SoundCloud is the biggest reason why. SoundCloud is a music streaming service where anyone anywhere can release their music 100% free of charge. The people releasing this music find it is so easy to do, that they drop it as soon as they have a new song, whether it is an original or a cover. As a result, SoundCloud is mostly full of free singles without albums to follow, or it is full of albums without any cost to pay to stream them. In 2016, an article written by Ed Christman of Billboard states that album sales fell back 16.9% in the first half of the year, and digital album sales specifically dropped by about 10 million.  Although this decline in album sales may make it seem like music is dying, it is quite the opposite. Ed Christman also explains that sales of Vinyl Records increased 11.4 percent in 2016 from 2015. Surprisingly, Billboard estimated an increase in total U.S. music revenue of about 8.9%, from $1.82 billion to $1.98 billion in 2016.  Senior Steven Mehling gave his take on the album sales, “I think there’s a lot of time and hard work that goes into making these albums. When these SoundCloud musicians release their music for free, I don’t understand it because they have the ability to make more money. The value of music is going down because the amount of effort and work being put in is decreasing.”  Some may think that this decline of album importance is killing music, but the numbers are showing that maybe albums aren’t as important as they were originally thought to be.  Before SoundCloud, it had never been so easy to spread your music out to the world. Now that anyone is able to do this without any hoops to jump through, people of all different social statuses are beginning to take advantage. Rappers, primarily, are the ones making the most of SoundCloud. Many of these rappers come from low income areas and rough neighborhoods without many opportunities, and SoundCloud provided these people with a better chance at “making it.” Daniel Sanchez, from Digital Music News, wrote that in the year 2017, the genre of Hip-Hop/Rap controlled 20.6% of all album listening and it was declared as the most listened to genre with a 48.6% increase over 2016. Not only is it incredible that hip-hop has come so far in one year, but it is also astonishing how these rappers make some of the most-listened-to music in the world without many recording resources and a subpar studio setup.  Freshman Andrew Aragones, said, “There’s something more special about SoundCloud rappers, and what’s special is that they started all the way on the bottom with close to nothing, and they grinded their way to the top.” Not all normal rappers struggled like this, but it is starting to become the norm. People seem to love the idea that SoundCloud rappers had little to love outside of their own community in their childhoods.  One of the most important things to have as a musician spreading music through SoundCloud, is a great community of friends and family behind you to help share the music. Once a musician has this, they are able to get the word out and eventually begin the long journey towards success. As music streaming became widely popular around the world because of the easy access to streaming services, music was released more rapidly and new ideas in music were adopted. The style of rap known as “Trap” is a style of music that has been greatly influenced by SoundCloud streaming. Despite its popularity among teens and young adults, many believe it’s either bad, or rappers such as Lil Pump and Smokepurpp are giving it a bad name. One example of someone who dislikes rappers like this is 16 year old junior, Nathan Felix. Nathan claimed, “Lil Pump is trash. No matter how popular he is, he still has no bars. I respect him for doing what he has to do to make money, but he just can’t rap, period.” While there are many students who feel the same as Nathan, there are also many students who feel like 15 year old sophomore, Sutton Sharkey. Sutton Sharkey felt very passionately about his views, as he stated, “I like Lil Pump because he has a great way of expressing himself in his music. He’s not afraid to cross lyrical boundaries that haven’t been crossed before.” Some would be angry by the fact that Lil Pump is disliked, and many would be just as mad that anybody genuinely believes Lil Pump is crossing “lyrical boundaries.” Clearly, there are a lot of mixed opinions, good and bad, about this particular subgenre of Hip-Hop, but there is no denying that it is the most rapidly growing style of music in the world. Trap has come such a long way, that perhaps it will reach its peak sooner, rather than later. Recently, TechCrunch reported that 40% of SoundCloud’s management and staff admitted to only having enough money for the company to last themselves 50 more days. Shortly after, Chance the Rapper tweeted that SoundCloud is “here to stay,” followed by a tweet by SoundCloud, confirming this.  This near downfall of SoundCloud came upon us quite suddenly, but it only made sense. It is hard for them to make money when the large majority of SoundCloud music was streamed for free, without many ads. There are only some promotions and ads visible occasionally, never in the way. There is still speculation as to whether or not Chance the Rapper actually “saved” SoundCloud, but with his tight connections, there’s almost no doubt that he did something to help. So, we should all thank Chance the Rapper for his contribution, allowing this revolutionary streaming service to live on, making music available to all and providing great opportunities to all musicians. May Hip-Hop live on.

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The Influence of SoundCloud