As part of its ongoing battle to become something more than the place where that guy you were roommates with back in college posts his weird DJ mixes (while also hopefully not abandoning that super-hip, Millennial-positive identity), SoundCloud announced this week that it’s signed a licensing deal with more than 20,000 small-scale record labels. The deal, brokered by non-profit indie rights agency Merlin, will provide the labels with royalties, derived from the company’s recent switch to an ad-supported model, when their artists’ songs are played on the site.
Participants in the new arrangement include Beggars Group, whose members include Vampire Weekend and FKA Twigs, as well as the Bon Iver-signed Secretly Group. From now on, if music by bands from the represented labels is posted on the site, either in its original form or in the various remixes and mash-ups that have served as SoundCloud’s reputation-enhancing bread and butter, the new partners will get a cut.
Long a haven for artists wanting to distribute both their original songs, as well as samples, mash-ups, and covers without worrying about copyright or financial concerns, SoundCloud has struggled lately to gain legitimacy (and legal cover from potential takedown orders or lawsuits) within the music industry. Last year, the company made forward strides when it signed Warner Music, one of the three biggest music labels in the world, to a similar licensing deal. But negotiations with fellow music megaliths Sony and Universal have apparently been slow-going, with the former pulling some of its artists from the site earlier this year. Meanwhile, we just hope nobody tells Universal Media Group that content from its sister-company, Universal Pictures, was used in the single greatest track currently residing on the service, that song someone made out of Jeff Goldblum’s laugh from Jurassic Park.