If recent reports are accurate, it seems that SoundCloud is on the way out, although many fans of the site that has been a platform for aspiring artists like Chance The Rapper are hopeful that this is not true. To save the millions of tracks that artists have uploaded throughout the 9-year life of the German song-sharing company, a group of volunteers known as Archive Team are working on preserving as much of the music as they can on their site Archive.org.
The Berlin based streaming service announced earlier this month that it was making redundancies of up to 40 percent of its staff, as well as shutting down two of its main offices in London and San Francisco. Wider media reports have hinted at major financial struggle due to a slump in subscribers, with TechCrunch reporting that the estimated number of listeners according to analysts is as low as 70 million per month, whereas the last published figure from the company 3 years ago claimed it to be around 175 million a month. After acquisition deals with Twitter and Spotify failed in the last 12 months, break up talks have intensified.
While the staff cuts might tide the company over until the end of the year, the Archive Team are already preparing for the inevitable closure of the site, with a group of 150 volunteers “dedicated to saving our digital heritage” embarking on a large scale copying of SoundCloud files, without the agreement of the company.
Archive Team coordinator Jason Scott has talked about the difficulty of such a huge task, considering that the entirety of the SoundCloud library probably amounts to around 1 million gigabytes in size. Talking to Motherboard on the challenge, he said, “If we’re only able to get a portion, we traditionally go for the earliest years (for historical reasons, less likely to exist elsewhere) and the most popular files (will break the most links if they disappear or can’t be found).”
As much as people would love for the archivists to back up the whole library, Scott predicted that it would cost somewhere in the region of $1.5 million and $2 million to buy the server space for 1 million gigabytes, hence his appeal for those backing the project to donate to Archive.org.
The news of the struggle at SoundCloud comes in a string of negative reports for streaming services, including Spotify, who have been called out for avoiding millions of royalties by commissioning fake artists to produce generic music for their playlists. Is this the end of the Internet streaming service? Not if the Archive Team have anything to do with it.