SoundCloud Deal with Sony Clears Path to Paid Service (Report)

A deal with the last of the Big Three record labels means “YouTube for audio” can move forward on planned subscription launch this year

SoundCloud has finally made nice with all the big record labels it irked.

The online streaming-audio service has reached a deal to license music from Sony, according to a report by the Verge.

SoundCloud said it doesn’t discuss rumors when sought for comment by TheWrap.

After sealing a similar pact with No. 1 recording company Universal in January on top of its 2015 deal with Warner, the Sony agreement was a the final hurdle standing between SoundCloud and its goal of launching a subscription tier.

SoundCloud, known as the YouTube for audio, attracts some of the greatest numbers of music listeners online, but it has rankled the music industry in the past because of its early reputation for being cavalier about royalties. A site where users can upload their own sound files, SoundCloud experienced much of the same industry tension that YouTube faced as it grappled to manage unauthorized uploads of copyrighted material.

That made it thorny for SoundCloud to cobble together deals with the likes of Sony and Universal. But the service’s exploding popularity made it hard for the music industry to tune out: It has 175 million monthly listeners, compared with the 78 million active listeners who tune in to online radio provider Pandora and 75 million active users of streaming-music service Spotify.

SoundCloud currently has a limited advertising business and has planned to introduce subscription services in the U.S. and other markets later this year.