SoundCloud has confirmed to MBW that it achieved its first ever profitable quarter on an EBITDA basis in Q3 this year.
The news comes as fresh company filings reveal that SoundCloud posted €147.6m ($165.7m) in revenues in calendar 2019, up 37% year-over-year.
That represented significantly faster growth than the prior year: in 2018, SoundCloud posted a YoY revenue increase of 19%.
SoundCloud’s 2019 revenue growth accelerated as the year went on: the firm says its quarterly revenues were up 17% YoY in Q1; in Q4, they were up by 43% YoY.
Meanwhile, SoundCloud’s annual operating losses in 2019 narrowed significantly, down 28% to €23.8m ($26.7m) from €32.9m in 2018.
Ready for a head-twisting stat?
While the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music currently have circa 70 million tracks on each of their platforms, SoundCloud tells MBW that it now plays host to over 250 million (!) tracks.
SoundCloud also says that, as of November 2020, 12 million creators (including musicians, DJs, podcasters etc.) are heard on its platform every month, and that over 80,000 artists are now monetizing their work directly via SoundCloud’s own distribution/services arm, Repost (and Repost Select).
SoundCloud’s latest fiscal filing states that, during 2019, its platform set all-time highs in metrics including Monthly Active Users (MAUs), Daily Active Users (DAUs), Listening Time (LT), Subscribers and Advertising.
Looking more deeply into SoundCloud’s 2019 numbers reveals that the company, led by CEO Kerry Trainor, divides its business model into two segments: (i) its ‘Listener Business’; and (ii) its ‘Creator Business’.
Its ‘Listener Business’ refers to the advertising and subscription revenues generated by consumers using SoundCloud’s platform.
Its ‘Creator Business’ refers to the money paid by creators for tools and services – such as those offered by a SoundCloud Pro Unlimited account, and those offered by Repost, which SoundCloud acquired last summer.
“With the end of 2020 now in view, we will have achieved our third consecutive year of accelerating revenue growth and our first profitable quarter, with substantial cash reserves to continue investing in SoundCloud.”
Kerry Trainor, SoundCloud
A basic standalone Repost plan today offers indie artists distribution to multiple platforms – including SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple Music – plus services like playlist pitching and promotional tools, for $30/year.
This is obviously interesting when you consider Spotify’s recent investor talk of building a “two-sided marketplace”; with Repost, to a certain scale, SoundCloud appears to have already established one.
The filing says: “The SoundCloud platform is more than a traditional one-way retail streaming service and more than a simple two-sided marketplace, it is an accelerator for global audio culture – we connect creators, fans and the industry to what’s next in music, in real-time.”
According to SoundCloud’s 2019 numbers, its global ‘Listener Business’ generated €99.5m ($111.7m) in 2019; its global ‘Creator Business’ generated €48.1m ($54.0m) in the same year.
This meant that SoundCloud’s ‘Listener Business’ was responsible for 67% of its revenues last year, with its ‘Creator Business’ pulling in 33% of revenues.
“The SoundCloud platform is more than a traditional one-way retail streaming service and more than a simple two-sided marketplace…”
SoundCloud 2019 annual filing
SoundCloud’s ‘Creator Business’ is, therefore, accelerating slightly faster than its ‘Listener Business’: in 2018, the firm’s figures show, its ‘Creator Business’ was responsible for 30% of revenues, with its ‘Listener Business’ on 70%.
SoundCloud’s latest filing further reveals that it acquired 100% of Repost Network last June for €9.36m ($10.5m). (Update: A SoundCloud spokesperson has clarified that when you combine what the firm paid in cash plus an additional equity giveaway, the total consideration of the Repost deal was slightly higher, at approximately $15m.)
Considering the impact Repost appears to have had on SoundCloud’s numbers since then, that deal is showing early signs of being a smart buy.
Kerry Trainor, CEO, SoundCloud, told MBW today: “With the end of 2020 now in view, we will have achieved our third consecutive year of accelerating revenue growth and our first profitable quarter, with substantial cash reserves to continue investing in SoundCloud.”
(According to SoundCloud’s filing, it had €39.9m – around $45m – in cash on its books at the close of 2019, and has since taken on a further $75m in investment as noted below.)
Another big question for SoundCloud: how has COVID-19 affected its business in 2020 so far?
Thankfully, the company suggests, not too dramatically.
Within its annual 2019 filing, SoundCloud writes: “While it is too early to predict the impacts on the financial year 2020, we have seen a true mix of tailwinds and headwinds – with strong growth in our creator products and our subscription business lines, along with weakness in our US advertising business which we expect to recover in step with the broader market.
“With multiple years of consistent growth, and the additional capital raised earlier this year, SoundCloud is well-positioned to weather the anticipated impact to the business and continue a sustainable growth path in 2020.”
For two years, SoundCloud has implemented a US ad sales relationship with Pandora, a subsidiary of SiriusXM.
In addition to the growth of its ‘Creator Business’ via Repost, SoundCloud says that other key drivers of its performance in 2019 included its integrations with DJ software partners including Serato, Virtual DJ, Dex 3, Native Instruments, Pioneer and more.
It says that these deals made SoundCloud “the most widely integrated streaming service in DJ performance software and hardware”.
The firm also expanded a series of international ad sales relationships in 2019, including new partners such as Targetspot (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Austria), Global Radio Services (United Kingdom), DAX (Canada) and Southern Cross Austereo (Australia).