SoundCloud launches ‘fan-powered’ Buzzing Playlists to spotlight up-and-coming artists

SoundCloud is launching a new feature called Buzzing Playlists, a set of playlists curated based on fan engagement with music by Next Pro artists.

Buzzing Playlists are designed to address the Zero-Plays Problemfaced by many new artists. Through its First Fans program, SoundCloud’s recommendation algorithm analyzes music by Next Pro artists who opt in, the company said on Thursday (May 2).

Since the launch of First Fans, SoundCloud says over 3.5 million tracks have been analyzed and recommended to potential fans, with the average Next Pro artist seeing a 400% increase in listens.

Building on this, the First Fans algorithm has been updated to recommend top tracks to up to 1,000 listeners. Tracks with the highest engagement, based on metrics like plays, replays, and playlist adds, will then be featured on a Buzzing Playlist.

Updated weekly, Buzzing Playlists will showcase fresh music from rising Next Pro artists across pop, hip hop, R&B, and electronic genres. This provides a platform for these artists to gain exposure and find new fans, while listeners can discover new music based on what other fans are enjoying. Industry professionals can also use these playlists to identify promising new talent.

SoundCloud clarified that the tracks are recommended to actual listeners and not bots.

The launch of Buzzing Playlists comes amid a backdrop of moves by SoundCloud that encourage the creation of AI-generated music.

The “zero-plays problem” has intensified with the emergence of widely available AI music creation tools. Major streaming services are estimated to be inundated with 120,000 new tracks uploaded daily, making it increasingly challenging for new artists to gain traction. This prompted SoundCloud to start testing its First Fans algorithm nearly a year ago as a solution.

First Fans uses AI technology developed by Musiio, a tech company that it acquired in 2022. Musiio claims to have developed AI that can “listen” to music at scale.

“With 120,000 tracks being released across music platforms per day, it would take a curator 330 years to listen to just one day’s worth of music uploads. So many amazing songs never even stand a chance at being heard,” SoundCloud Chief Content Officer Tracy Chan wrote in a blog post last year.

Just a few months ago, SoundCloud partnered with Fadr, Soundful, and Voice-Swap – all companies offering AI music creation tools. These partnerships allowed artists to directly upload AI-generated songs onto the platform.

SoundCloud also announced “new methods to prevent AI abuse and protect its artists by blocking AI bots from crawling its site and training models on its catalog.”

SoundCloud expects to have recorded a positive EBITDA of EUR €2 million (USD $2.1 million) in 2023, a significant improvement from the €29 million negative EBITDA the company reported in 2022.

“Reaching profitability matters because it reinforces that we are pursuing the right strategy and have taken the necessary steps to turn around the business,” SoundCloud CEO Eliah Seton told MBW in December.

Music Business Worldwide

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