“What if” SoundCloud were acquired by Spotify or YouTube?

Here are some of the hard numbers behind their battle for the privilege to “beat” on our eardrums..

Do you wish there was at least one “perfect” music service with:

  • Free / affordable streaming AND downloads?
  • All the released tracks AND user uploaded official / unofficial previews, promotions, videos etc.?

It could be a little bit like a “mix” of Spotify AND SoundCloud?

In September 2016, Financial Times reported that Spotify was in advanced talks to buy SoundCloud. Then we learned that there was a change in their tune because Spotify decided to focus on their IPO scheduled for 2017.

A few weeks later, we found out that the “love triangle” is complete with Google’s interest in SoundCloud in addition to their existing free (music) streaming service, YouTube.

I use SoundCloud, YouTube and Spotify

to hear full length versions of tracks that I want to buy and download to my computer for my DJing. Beatport, JunoDownload and Traxsource offer just 2min long previews, and I hate risking my money until I am able to hear complete tracks.

Luckily, many labels and producers upload full length promotional copies to YouTube or SoundCloud and make their tracks available for streaming on Spotify at the time of their original release.

Recently, I compared Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud catalogs for 10,956 most popular electronic music downloads, charted during February 2017. Using Java, I ran ~46,000 searches and processed ~430,000 results to determine that Spotify was the overall best streaming source of electronic music (that DJs pay to download):

“What-if” Spotify acquired SoundCloud?

Would we see an increase in the number of unique tracks available to Spotify’s listeners, or did Spotify abandon the acquisition because they realized that such a “merger” would only add duplicates to their catalog?

Let’s say there were only 5 music tracks: A, B, C, D & E.

  • On Spotify: A, B, C, _, _
  • SoundCloud: _, _, C, D, _
  • On YouTube: A, B, _, _, E

In such a case, it would make some sense for Spotify to buy SoundCloud and add that one new track “D”. However, it would make even more sense for Google/YouTube to acquire SoundCloud since they would get more new music (assuming similar acquisition terms).

I “pretended” to expand Spotify’s catalog with tracks in SoundCloud’s dataset. Of the 6,736 tracks, roughly 15.3% would be valuable to Spotify and it would increase their catalog by ~10.8%:

Or, if YouTube acquired SoundCloud:

  • They could use ~16.5% of SoundCloud’s tracks (vs. 15.3% for Spotify)
  • YouTube would grow its catalog by 12.6% (vs. 10.8% for Spotify)
  • And YouTube would become #1 streaming source with most tracks that DJs are downloading right now
Based on this limited dataset, and assuming the same acquisition price for Spotify and Google/YouTube, my conclusion is that YouTube would get a better “deal” and have more to gain.

Unfortunately, until and unless SoundCloud is acquired by Spotify or Google, streaming fans will have to “chase” tracks around these services — of the 10,956 top tracks that DJs were paying to download during February:

  • 963 were NOT available for streaming at all (on these 3 services)
  • 1,147 were available on Spotify only
  • 448 were available on YouTube only
  • 272 were available on SoundCloud only

Btw, 756 were available on YouTube AND SoundCloud, but not on Spotify while 4,867 were available “everywhere”.

Fortunately, I built RemixRotation.com

as simple-to-use music player combining media from YouTube and SoundCloud for just the ~11,000 top tracks that DJs are downloading during the past 32 days:

RemixRotation.com playlists are organized into 24 genres such as Techno, Deep House, Drum & Bass and updated every day.

If you are curious which of these 4 services is best for each of the 24 main electronic genres, I recommend my analysis based on this same dataset.

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