I agree with you, I think SoundCloud is trying to be too many things to too many different users. What I like about your action plan is how you’re telling them to trim the fat and focus on the muscle. Indie artist and podcast are definitely SoundCloud’s strength (Especially through discovery). I’m not 100% sold on DJ’s, I know they get millions of listens but as long as the music belongs to the big 3 record labels they’ll have to pay them for the rights to stream it.
User will pay for a subscription service if the value was truly there so I like your idea of “free to a point” that allows a max limit on the amount of times a song can be played.
SoundCloud needs to look at Live Nation’s deal with artist and see what creative things they can come up with. I think a partnership with an independent artist like Chance the Rapper could of work out very well if it was structured to be mutually benefiting. I also think SoundCloud should look into sponsored tours and festivals that feature up and coming artist. If they could consistently breaking the next big artist it adds so much creditability to their brand.
SoundCloud can’t just think like a streaming service, they need to try to think more like a distribution channel.