Who is the current leader in the streaming service war? Not Spotify. Not Rdio. Not Deezer. Not Beats Music (just launched) The answer: YouTube! Ok so YouTube is not technically a streaming service, however more music is streamed on YouTube than any of these other streaming services. Why is that? There are many reasons. The biggest being user generated content.
Users can upload music directly for free, music is available almost instantaneously, and anything can be uploaded (including copyrighted material). These streaming services mentioned do not have the same offering. However, there is a service designed specifically for music/sounds that has all three of these qualities...Soundcloud.
To get your music on most streaming services you must go through an artist aggregator. There are paid and (apparently) free options here are Spotify’s recommendations. You can upload up to 2 hours of audio for free directly to Soundcloud.
Direct & Instantaneous
According to TuneCore it takes 2-3 business days to get your music on Spotify. In a world of up to the second content, that doesn’t quite cut it. On Soundcloud your music is uploaded directly and is live almost instantaneously.
In order for your music to go live on most streaming services it must be cleared for copyrights. In other words my (unofficial) remix of Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” will not make it to Spotify. However, on Soundcloud it is totally acceptable. Well, for now. Regardless which side you are on in the copyright debate, there is no question that the ability to upload copyrighted material helps a platform grow. It has certainly helped YouTube. Uploading remixes of copyrighted material is also beneficial to artists both as the original artist and the producer remixing (IMHO).
Soundcloud has focused on making a platform creators want to use. They will continue to improve their consumer experience, as mainstream adoption continues. This will only entice more and more creators to join. I don’t believe streaming music is necessarily a zero sum game. However, I do believe that any platform that continues to offer unfiltered user generated content has a great chance of sticking around for a long time.