Mixcloud, the U.K.-based music streaming platform that’s long been touted as a rival to SoundCloud, has launched its new bespoke subscription offering, significantly undercutting its rivals in the process.
Entitled Mixcloud Select, subscriptions start at $2.99 a month and provide users with enhanced ad-free access, offline listening and the ability to view full track listing upfront.
Unlike Spotify, Amazon Prime and Apple, however, listeners don’t subscribe to Mixcloud’s full music offering, but direct to individual curators and DJs, who are free to set their own price in local currencies (beginning at $2.99) and earn a cut of the net revenue generated, after royalties are paid to labels and publishers.
At launch, 47 curator channels are available for subscription, including ones by dance DJs Afrojack, Nicole Moudaber, Lefto and John Digweed, as well as record labels Defected Records and Axtone Records. Also on board are independent radio stations Brooklyn Radio, Soho Radio and Red Light Radio, alongside homegrown Mixcloud stars like DJ Blighty and Low Light Mixes.
“We wanted to make sure that we launched something that had our creators at the very core of it, but also was different to what else is in the market,” Mixcloud co-founder Nikhil Shah tells Billboard. He says Mixcloud Select is targeted specifically towards listeners “that really care about the creators they love and really want to support and get closer to them” and that the service opens up new ancillary revenue streams to DJs, podcasters and radio presenters who don’t necessarily create their own music.
“A lot of those guys were previously left out of the revenue mix, even though they were making very meaningful and very valuable content,” explains Shah. Meanwhile, curators who also make music, such as Afrojack and Nicole Moudaber, can theoretically get paid twice: first from streaming royalty payments and secondly from their split of the subscription revenue.
Mixcloud — which uses its own proprietary Content ID system to identify individual songs within mixes and track and monetize usage — won’t discuss subscription revenue splits, but says the majority of net revenue (after royalty payments) goes to the curator.
“Right now, our focus is to get a few case studies out there working and showing that we can make a meaningful difference to creators’ lives and incomes. Once this is working for the few, then it’s much easier to scale that up to the many,” says Shah, confident Mixcloud has hit upon a winning model that will appeal to a sizeable chunk of its 17 million monthly listeners.
“Like any good subscription model, this is about having the right level of conversion from the free tier,” he states citing exclusive content and the ability for curators and artists to direct message fans among the incentives to grow its subscriber base.
Since its launch in 2009, over 1.3 million curators have uploaded over 15 million on-demand radio shows, DJ sets and podcasts to Mixcloud, each typically lasting around 45 minutes. Until recently, the platform operated under non-interactive blanket licenses, although it now has signed licence deals with all three majors, Merlin, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing and multi-territory online music rights licensing and processing hub ICE. Agreements are also in place with a number of international collecting societies and PROs, including SoundExchange, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SACEM and U.K.-based PRS for Music.
Although the Select subscription tier is initially limited to just 47 curators, Mixcloud is asking its contributors to register their interest in signing up to the offer as its looks to develop the service over the coming months. “Building a subscription model on top of the currently free service is not going to be easy,” concedes Shah envisaging a long journey ahead. “We need to stay really close to our community and test and learn a lot,” he says, “but we think there is a really exciting opportunity here for us and the industry.”