Jeff Toig, the Cricket Wireless senior vice president behind the creation of subscription service Muve Music, is moving to SoundCloud, the Berlin-based company that offers a popular audio hosting and streaming platform. Toig's team will oversee partnerships with content creators and technology platform partners as well as develop new revenue streams. He will start Sept. 30.
Scale is one reason Toig was attracted to the Berlin-based company. He acknowledges that many digital media companies have struggled to build a highly scalable service. But he feels SoundCloud's 200 million monthly users give it an opportunity to innovate and excel. "This is a business that has already achieved a pretty extraordinary level of scale and continues to grow."
The search for scale became a lot more intense in September. Just as Toig announced his move to SoundCloud, Rdio announced a partnership with broadcast radio giant Cumulus Media and Rhapsody announced a restructuring and investment aimed at fueling growth. In the competitive, financially challenging market of digital music, companies that aren't growing might as well be dying.
Established in 2007, SoundCloud now has over 200 full-time employees and still growing. Other than its Berlin headquarters, the company has offices in London, San Francisco, New York and Sofia, Bulgaria. The platform reaches 200 million people a month -- including both listeners and creators -- and ingests over 12 hours of music and audio every minute.
Unlike Muve Music and other subscription services, SoundCloud doesn't license its content from rights owners. Instead, creators pay for hosting and additional features not available to free users. Because rights owners are clients, they do not dictate terms on pricing and product features that help shape many other streaming services and impact consumer adoption.
Toig calls SoundCloud's business model "pretty compelling and intriguing" because it offers a "really solid foundation and creates a set of really exciting opportunities." He believes Muve Music has a "compelling" business model but acknowledges its has inherent difficulties. "Muve sits within a carrier, and that's tough."
Ultimately, Toig's departure from Cricket says more about SoundCloud's potential than Muve's challenges. Toig points to the SoundCloud's investors -- among them are Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Index Ventures and Union Square Ventures -- and the SoundCloud team as one things that attracted him to the company. "It's [like] a Silicon Valley tech company and has very high-caliber people top to bottom."