A lot of music streaming services and discovery apps have followed a formula for introducing new artists and songs to their users: an AI-powered vertical feed that highlights clips of songs. SoundCloud is the latest app to try this feature out.
The company is testing a vertical feed discovery feature both on its iOS and Android apps with a select number of users. SoundCloud users included in this test will see a new “Discover” page — along with a “Following” page — under the Feed tab. Until now, the tab only showed new tracking from artists that you were following and reposts from friends.
SoundCloud says the Discover page will show songs “based on your listening history and musical taste.” The app will also show a line explaining the reason why a particular song is showing up in your recommendations. These captions will look like “Because you follow A” or “Because you liked B.”
Importantly, SoundCloud is rolling out 30-second previews across both Discover and Following pages. Artists can select their own clip to highlight or rely on Musiio’s AI tech — a startup SoundCloud acquired last year to improve discovery.
If you think the song matches your taste you can “like” it to add it to your “Liked tracked”. If you want to listen to the full version, you have to tap on the play button, which will also show you the information about the track on a new page. The revamped page design also makes it easier to comment on the track or add it to a playlist. At least, SoundCloud is not replacing the like button with a plus button like Spotify.
Given how TikTok and short videos have played a part in uncovering new artists, many platforms are now drawing some inspiration from the vertical feed method. Spotify has been testing it for a few years now, but it hasn’t fully rolled it out yet. ByteDance-owned Resso, which operates in India, Brazil and Indonesia, relies on a vertical feed — but it makes you listen to full songs rather than short clips. Other music discovery apps like Smores and HotDrop have also relied on a mixture of AI and short clips to help users find new tracks.
SoundCloud wants to be the first major platform to bring all these ingredients together to fuel discovery. The company didn’t specify how many listeners visit its platform per month. In a recent blog post, SoundCloud said it has 130 million “engaged fans.” Besides that, the company said that it hosts more than 320 million tracks from over 40 million creators.
The streaming service slashed 20% of its workforce last August due to “a significant company transformation and the challenging economic and financial environment.” In the last few years, the company has introduced programs for fan-powered royalties, which lets smaller artists earn money from user subscriptions or ad revenues only based on artists they listen to. This eliminates the model where established artists would get paid more on a pro-rata basis because of a higher number of total streams.