The slow death of free? SoundCloud imposes 24-hour limits on apps

It’s getting harder and harder to run a completely free music service these days.

SoundCloud is taking steps to legitimise its platforms in the eyes of the music industry.

The Berlin-born player says it’s on course to launch a subscription tier later this year, while it’s also been licensed by Warner Music Group and independent label rep Merlin – both of whom are understood to have taken equity in the platform.

Meanwhile, it’s also been licensed by an influential group of publishers, as its ad-funded service, OnSoundCloud, starts contributing cash back to the industry.

Now SoundCloud’s taken another move that will please rights-holders: from July 1, it will limit the number of tracks that third-party apps can play from the SoundCloud API to 15,000 spins every 24 hours.

If 15,000 plays sounds like a lot, remember that these apps will prospectively be used by hordes of consumers.

Indeed, apps which ‘rip’ music from SoundCloud and convert them into MP3 files can process tens or hundreds of thousands of tracks a day.

In a note to developer partners, Dean Hudson, senior manager, API at SoundCloud, said that the company made the move because it was “dealing with an increasing number of applications that abuse creator content”.

AKA: fast-growing apps that play free music all day without anyone getting paid a result.

“In the coming months we’ll be introducing an application process for developers who’d like additional access [to music].”

Dean Hudson, Soundcloud

SoundCloud recommends that its devs ‘monitor you play requests’ in future to deal with the change.

But perhaps this line in Hudson’s message will bring labels the most hope:

“In the coming months we’ll be introducing an application process for developers who’d like additional access.”

Does that sound like SoundCloud is going to start charging third-party companies who want unlimited plays?

SoundCloud spins it this way:

“This change is an opportunity for us to refocus our efforts and renew our commitment to developers. You’re an integral part of the SoundCloud community, and we look forward to seeing what you build next.”

Watch this space.Music Business Worldwide

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