After laying off 40% of its staff and securing $169 million in emergency funding, SoundCloud’s first product push is a much needed step in the right direction. It’s filling its home page with personalized playlists and best of collections from top genres rather than other content like it’s feed. The hope is to make SoundCloud instantly accessible to new users and a more reliable place to discover fresh songs for long-time loyalists.
In my recent deep-dive into SoundCloud’s strategy, I outlined its need to differentiate itself from Spotify by focusing on its $5 tier of ad-free access to independent music, legally grey remixes and DJ sets you can’t find elsewhere, and helping artists earn money beyond royalties through commerce. In line with that strategy, today’s redesign lets SoundCloud highlight the best of its unique archive of user uploaded songs.
SoundCloud’s new CEO Kerry Trainor tells me “The new SoundCloud home is a more curated, personalized way to discover amazing creators first—years ahead of the mainstream charts”.
Read TechCrunch’s feature piece “To fix SoundCloud, it must become the anti-Spotify“
Listeners will now be greeted by featured playlists including Hip Hop Supreme and DJ mixset-focused In The Mix, the Spotify Discover Weekly-esque personalized tracklist The Upload, and algorithmically generated More Of What You Like and Artists You Should Know. There’s also New & Hot charts and Top 50 charts playlists, Fresh Pressed for new album releases, and editorially selected collections like SoundCloud Next Wave and Playback.
The home screen refresh is a direly needed change. Yesterday I opened SoundCloud to see two big ads filling my screen.
With funding and a leaner operation giving SoundCloud some runway after years of sluggish performance, it’s up to Trainor to give SoundCloud some momentum. Interface changes are an easy way to start, though a deeper repositioning of SoundCloud around indie creators that its competitors lack will be important.
“What differentiates SoundCloud is our catalog of over 170 million tracks, and new home lets us elevate and celebrate the incredible talent that drives the SoundCloud experience” says Trainor. With Spotify, Apple, Google’s YouTube, Amazon, and Pandora duking it out, the music space is crowded. SoundCloud’s success lies in being what others aren’t.