Why SoundCloud beats Spotify for discovering underground music

Key Takeaways

  • SoundCloud is an online streaming platform for music and podcasts, allowing artists to easily upload their content and gain exposure.
  • The platform offers a user-friendly app for iOS and Android users to enhance the listening experience.
  • SoundCloud is free to use with some limitations, but offers paid subscriptions for ad-free listening and additional features for both listeners and artists.

SoundCloud has been around for musicians trying to make a name for themselves since 2007. Although the platform is most well associated with independent, underground music, many now well-known artists like Post Malone, Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Ice Spice, and Lil Nas X found their start on SoundCloud.

From podcasts to music, via free and paid-for plans, we’ve got all the key details you need to know about what SoundCloud is, how it works, and why you should give it a chance.

What is SoundCloud?

Although music streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music have become more recognizable names, at its base, SoundCloud is an online streaming platform for music and podcasts, just like those services.

One characteristic that makes SoundCloud unique is how easy the platform has made it for artists to upload their songs, tracks, podcasts, or other audio. Setting up a profile to share music through is easy and can be free, allowing amateur and budget artists to get their names out there.

This quality has made SoundCloud a great platform for up-and-coming artists to break out, since SoundCloud’s users are typically pretty interested in discovering new music and artists.

How to download SoundCloud

SoundCloud originated as a website that you could only access on an internet browser. Although the website is still up and running, SoundCloud has since developed a user-friendly app for iOS and Android users.

I made a SoundCloud account. What now?

At the top of SoundCloud’s home page, both online and in the app, you’ll be prompted to explore some of the platform’s trending genres. Immediately below these, SoundCloud offers an array of music that their algorithm has deemed as tracks you may enjoy based on what else you listen to. If you want to listen to what’s popular in the US right now, you can scroll down to the section that offers Music Charts with Top 50 playlists for various genres.

You’re also able to search with filters to find any tracks, artists, albums, or playlists you’re looking for. Another interesting feature on SoundCloud are the “Scenes: Corners of SoundCloud” playlists and “FOSC: First on SoundCloud 2023” artists found a little further down on the platform’s home page. Scenes highlights some niche genres that have found a community of listeners on SoundCloud, and FOSC puts an annual spotlight on five of its rising artists with the goal of helping these artists gain listeners and reach new audiences.

SoundCloud Scenes


Is SoundCloud free?

SoundCloud’s origins are rooted in independent music and user-driven uploads, so it’s still available to use for free, although there are some drawbacks.

Free listening has advertising in it, and non-paid users aren’t able to download any tracks for offline listening. However, revenue that SoundCloud makes from advertisements helps them to pay the artists whose music you’re listening to.

There are multiple tiers of paid memberships for SoundCloud, which each bring extra features.

SoundCloud Subscriptions

SoundCloud pricing: Listeners

SoundCloud offers multiple paid options for those looking to listen ad-free and with some other perks. Here are their subscription options:

The more basic paid subscription is SoundCloud Go, which costs $4.99 monthly and gets rid of all the ads while also letting you download as many tracks as you’d like for offline listening.

SoundCloud Go+ is priced at $9.99 which offers the benefits of SoundCloud Go as well as lets you listen with higher-quality audio, gets you access to a wider library, and even allows you to mix available tracks in certain DJing apps. For students, SoundCloud Go+ is offered at a 50% discount.

SoundCloud pricing: Artists

If you’re looking to upload music, SoundCloud offers a free subscription called SoundCloud Next. This option allows artists to upload up to three hours of audio either privately or publicly and have access to basic analytics reports of listeners.


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SoundCloud Next Pro is the platform’s paid artist plan, which costs $8.25 a month. It removes the limit on how much music you can upload and opens the door to a whole heap of stats to help you understand who’s listening to your music and how. This plan helps artists to extend their tracks’ reach, have wider distribution, monetize their tracks, have limited access to track mastering, and more.

Who uses SoundCloud?

While SoundCloud is used by a wide array of artists and listeners from around the world, certain genres have definitely found their niche audience on the platform.

Listeners often turn to SoundCloud to listen to new and unique sounds and artists rather than the current Billboard Top 50.

Some current trending genres on SoundCloud include electronic, house, reggae, pop, and hip hop & rap. Looking at the songs found on SoundCloud’s trending playlists reveals that while some big names are included, like Megan Thee Stallion, Jhené Aiko, and Zeds Dead, many of the trending artists are far from household names. There are also playlists available that offer new tracks exclusively found on SoundCloud or each week’s fresh sounds on the platform.

SoundCloud can also be used to listen to more niche music genres that many people may never have heard of. Although stats aren’t yet available for 2023, the 2022 fastest growing genres included plugg, an Atlanta-based hip-hop scene, drill, a trap subgenre in which Ice Spice had a top SoundCloud track of 2022, phonk, UK dance, and digicore, a hyperpop microgenre.

SoundCloud Genres


Should I use SoundCloud?

If you like to discover new artists, niche genres, and unique tracks, you should be using SoundCloud. SoundCloud offers a world away from trending music that’s being overplayed on the radio. A lot of underground talent that deserves to be heard is available to listen to exclusively on SoundCloud. If you give SoundCloud artists a chance, you could find passion for genres you didn’t know existed or discover the next big name in music.


Disclaimer : The content in this article is for educational and informational purposes only.