Midem paid for part of Chris O’Brien’s travel to Cannes for the Midem Music Industry Festival, where he is participating as a startup competition judge. Our coverage remains objective.
For the past eight years, Alexander Ljung has been trying to build SoundCloud into a music streaming juggernaut. Now, like a lot of services that pioneered music streaming, he’s waiting to hear the details of what tech goliath Apple is going to announce today at its Worldwide Developers Conference.
And like many music streaming entrepreneurs anticipating the arrival of this massive new competitor, Ljung is choosing to take the optimistic view that has been expressed throughout the weekend at the Midem conference in Cannes.
During an interview on stage today, Ljung said he believes Apple’s entrance into music streaming will drive awareness and adoption around the world, a shift that he argues will help all competitors attract consumers and increase revenues being funneled back to artists.
“They’re very large and they have a lot of cash and they’re very good at marketing and they’ve very good at building hardware,” Ljung said. “They’re going to put a lot of marketing behind this. I’m all for it.”
Though not quite a startup anymore, Berlin-based SoundCloud is also not quite a dominant force yet. But Ljung did trot out some impressive numbers for SoundCloud.
The company now has 175 million unique listeners on its platforms. And 12 hours of audio are now being uploaded every minute to SoundCloud, which now has more than 100 million tracks.
“As far as we know, that’s the largest collection of tracks out there,” he said.
At the same time, Ljung said it’s important to remember that despite the growth of services like his own and Spotify and Deezer, the amount of overall listening happening on streaming is still quite small compared to more traditional methods such as downloads, CDs, and the radio.
“I still feel like it’s early days,” he said. “The amount of listening happening on streaming is still very small. Apple is going to rapidly increase the market for all of us.”
The arrival of Apple’s music service comes as SoundCloud has been ramping up its programs to help artists monetize the massive amount of content on its platform. The company last year introduced On SoundCloud, a monetization program that lets artists opt into the company’s advertising network.
The company has 100 partners now, including Universal Music, and just last week announced that it signed a deal with Merlin, a music company that represents more than 20,000 indie artists who can now use SoundCloud’s monetization services.
And later this year, Ljung said, SoundCloud still plans to move ahead with its own premium subscription service.