Many 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 snippets of songs. SoundCloud is the latest app to try out this feature.
The company is testing a vertical feed discovery feature in both its iOS and Android apps with a select few users. SoundCloud users participating in this test will see a new “Discover” page – along with a “Follow” page – under the Feed tab. Until now, the tab only showed new tracking from artists you followed and reposts from friends.
SoundCloud says the Discover page will show songs “based on your listening history and musical taste.” The app also displays a line explaining why a particular song appears 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 on both Discover and Follow pages. Artists can select their own clip to highlight or rely on AI technology from Musiio – a startup that acquired SoundCloud last year to improve discovery.
If you think the song suits your taste, you can “like” it to add it to your “Like tracked”. If you want to listen to the full version, you’ll need to tap 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. In any case, SoundCloud does not replace the like button with a plus button like Spotify.
Given how TikTok and short videos have played a role in discovering new artists, many platforms are now taking some inspiration from the vertical feed method. Spotify has been testing it for a few years, but hasn’t fully rolled it out yet. Owned by Resso, which operates in India, Brazil and Indonesia, ByteDance relies on a vertical feed, but it makes sure you listen to full songs rather than short clips. Other music discovery apps like Smores and HotDrop also relied on a mix of AI and short clips to help users find new songs.
SoundCloud aims to be the first major platform to bring all of these ingredients together to drive discovery. The company has not specified how many listeners visit the platform per month. In a recent blog post, SoundCloud said it has 130 million “engaged fans.” In addition, the company said it hosts more than 320 million songs from more than 40 million creators.
The streaming service cut 20% of its workforce last August due to “significant business transformation and the challenging economic and financial environment”. In recent years, the company has introduced fan-driven royalty programs, which allow smaller artists to monetize user subscriptions or ad revenue only based on artists they listen to. This eliminates the model where established artists would be paid more pro rata due to a higher number of total streams.