Today at Disrupt Europe, SoundCloud co-founder and CEO Alexander Ljung took the stage to share two new updates and share his thoughts on the music industry, music startups and more. Back in July, SoundCloud announced that it has reached 200 million active listeners (monthly active users). But since then, the startup has grown substantially as it now reports 250 million listeners.
In addition to that, SoundCloud now integrates with Instagram to allow you to your photos as album art. More on that here.
“We’ve had a really good year, we’ve been growing very fast — we are the audio platform of the web,” Ljung said. “In any given hour, we’ll reach nearly every country in the entire world,” he continued. Earlier this year, the company introduced a totally revamped premium subscription. It is certainly the key element that helped boost SoundCloud’s growth.
“The big thing when we made that change is that we went from four different account levels with a fairly wide range of pricing to two different levels with a smaller range,” Ljung said. “[Subscription numbers] are pretty much exactly on our forecast. When you have multiple options, you get more leverage and tiers to tweak with. But we wanted to simplify it because we are focused on growth and engagement, not so much on revenue.”
Then, the conversation shifted to other interesting topics, such as how easy it is to build a startup in Berlin. “what’s cool here is that you’re a little bit outside of the tech bubble. It’s very valuable to be close to this very creative and artistic location,” Ljung said. “On the Internet, it’s not about pure technology anymore but being able to put technology into a real cultural context,” he continued.
This artistic culture has been very important to Berlin-based startups. “Berlin has always been this place that wants to be doing things differently. It’s kind of edgy, decadent and punk,” Ljung said. “There is a huge amount of creativity in creating a great startup, brand and experience for people.”
Finally, one recurring concern is that the money is not there yet in Berlin. VCs are not investing in European startups the way they are in the Silicon Valley or in New York. Yet, this is changing too. “There is not as much VCs right next door if you’re here. But everybody is looking at Berlin,” Ljung said. “A couple of years ago, when I was talking to Valley funds, they were saying ‘we only invest in the Valley.’ You don’t hear this anymore.”
His final advice for Berlin startups was fairly easy to understand. If you have a good product, you’ll get a lot of success. Or, in Ljung’s own words, “build some cool shit and have a lot of impact.”