With opportune timing, given Apple’s decision to put its curated iTunes Radio stations behind a paywall, music streaming service SoundCloud today launched its own take on continuous, lean-back listening with the debut of “Stations.” Similar to other radio services, like Pandora, Stations allow users to listen to an endless stream of music based on a track, search terms, or other content stream.
The idea, the company explains in its announcement, is to offer a “new way to discover the tracks you’ve never heard anywhere else” by making it easier to find other music that’s related to your Likes on its service.
SoundCloud already understood the relationships and similarities between songs, which it highlighted through its “Related Tracks” feature, but it had yet to take advantage of that data to offer a more simplified listening experience. That made using SoundCloud to find new music that fit your interests more difficult – and that’s a problem for a service that’s known to be a place to discover emerging or under-the-radar talent.
The feature has long been one of users’ biggest requests. Before today, discovering new songs actually involved a fair amount of work.
To create your first SoundCloud station, users will pull up a menu after searching for a term, track, content stream, or your Collection, and then tap the “Start Station” option. Afterwards, that Station will remain a part of your Collection, along with your Likes and Playlists. The company also notes that there are today over 100 million tracks on its service to choose from.
The launch of Stations comes at a time when SoundCloud is trying to figure out ways to monetize its business. The company raised some €32 million in debt financing dating back to early 2015, and confirmed more recently that it plans to roll out paid subscriptions and advertising across its global markets later this year.
Of course, before SoundCloud can charge for a premium tier, it needs to establish a baseline service where it’s at least on par with the rest of the streaming music market. That could certainly include a radio feature like Stations – something that Pandora, Apple Music, Spotify, Play Music, and others, offer.