Soundcloud, We Need To Talk (Updated)
The updated piece appeared on Epic Productions page HERE
So today, after years of faithful uploading of my own tracks, remixes as well as a plethora of mixsets, mashups & bootlegs containing plenty of things that violated Soundcloud‘s terms, I got the “Three Strikes And You’re Out” E-mail, effectively terminating my original Soundcloud account. Now before you rally in defence, I wholeheartedly diserved this. I’ll explain in a bit.
It seems I am not alone in this recent storming of the copyright beach by the Soundcloud special forces. Chatter across social media is telling me that either a new algorithm or scanning practices have been recently implemented. Many DJ friends of mine have reported getting this very same letter, mostly about older uploads being deleted and an alarming number of these DJ’s also ended up having their accounts terminated or decided to voluntarily leave the platform altogether. Since tracks sometimes take years to reach a major label or gain certain distribution many older tracks, as well as newer tracks go unnoticed because they simply haven’t been added to a no fly zone yet. I have noticed more and more labels adding themselves to the Soundcloud matrix which results in more content being flagged for removal. Universal Music as well as other major labels have been given back door access to Soundcloud to scan, flag and remove any content it chooses without interference from Soundcloud itself, which leads to strikes against the user. This definitely explains the recent issues especially with older content as entire back catalogsd of music have now become part of their scanning arsenal.
Now, while this whole scenario is frustrating for producers and DJ’s at any level of their career, as well as any number of the 200 million users since it the most commonly used platform to showcase mixes and productions, since it’s inception in 2007 Soundcloud was never a platform for the proliferation of copyrighted material and thus brings us to the current situation. Their terms of service in a nutshell is “Uploading copyrighted material is not permitted”. Most of the people being subjected to Soundcloud woes are technically in violation so as frustrating as it is, it is not an unexpected scenario. Whether you are Tiesto or Fiesto, if you are posting content you do not own, you are at risk. Just ask Calvin Harris and Kaskade, who not so long ago had 70% of his Soundcloud content removed.
We as a community can no longer fool ourselves into thinking what happens in cyberspace stays in cyberspace. The Internet police are getting craftier by the day. I see more and more blogs and places where DJ’s frequently obtain music for free shutting down, either willingly or by judgement from the RIAA or Federal agencies. If you are a DJ, producer, or in any way involved in the music industry and are not following what the RIAA is hoping to do with the DMCA (Digital Melinnium Copyright Act) overhaul then please Google it. The world of copyright is still playing catch up with the Internet and as producer with 25+ years of back catalog, I have dozens of contracts that do not take digital content into consideration. Add to that the fact that a lof of the piracy exists overseas where it is harder to enforce takedowns as sites ruitinely ignore warnings or redirect the URL. The RIAA wants the kind of power they really aren’t entitled to, and are trying to make demands on entities like Google to change their policies to help fight their battle. While I agree that there needs to be some changes to the DMCA since the balance of content holders and content providers has proved to be a larger challenge in 2015 then it was in enacted in 1998.
I personally have a few decades of original productions and remixes that would fit neatly into Soundcloud’s TOS (even if you have to prove it sometimes) so I’m not left without a reason to use their services. Those that are the purveyors of mashups, bootlegs and mix sets containing other peoples tracks however may soon find themselves staring at the same message I received. There have been a few methods of fooling Soundcloud which work to varying degrees, but it seems that they have either wised up or have a newer algorithm and have been retroactively scanning everything for violations. It seems as though Soundcloud is becoming a place for people to listen, stream and discover new music, but less of a place for people to upload content.
The big question is, why now?
I have about 2 pages full of violations and claims against my content stemming from the past few years, and if it is true that they have been rescanning older uploads then it certainly explains the expedited numbers of these messages going out to their users, but even so, what is the magic number that you reach to get to this point? It is obviously not two violations as I’ve had dozens over the years, and I never received a “first strike” message to begin with. Is it a specific number of infractions within a certain period of time? Is it a “you’ve had 49 chances to be a complying user, don’t make it number 50″? So maybe 2 is actually 2, or 49 is 2? In several cases, in efforts to thwart huge lawsuits from the RIAA and other content holders, companies like YouTube and Soundcloud have adopted harsher controls and more intrusion in return for dismissals of million and even billion dollar lawsuits.
Soundcloud currently is trying to implement a new infrastructure where it will try and adopt a subscriptions service style platform with free and premium plans resulting in various degrees of adds along with potential collaborative efforts between major labels and the users without fear of retribution. How it works out in reality remains to be seen.
In light of the current landscape over at Soundcloud town, I have decided to move all my mix sets over to Mixcloud as djstrobe, and also on my long running iTunes Podcast. As for my mashups and bootlegs, those will be put on a promo page on this site very soon under MUSIC—>Bootlegs & Mashups. I am also starting a new Soundcloud page HERE. Until next time!…