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SoundCloud, Which Wants Big Music Deals, Hires Big Music Executive

If you want to join them, hire them.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

SoundCloud, the music streaming service that’s trying to negotiate deals with the big music labels, may have made that task a bit easier: It has hired one of the label’s key executives.

The Berlin-based company has hired Stephen Bryan, who until yesterday was heading up digital business at Warner Music Group — and negotiating with SoundCloud.

Warner is one of the three big labels talking to SoundCloud about a deal that would give the service some rights to play its catalog, in exchange for revenue-sharing and an equity stake.

Bryan, who has worked at Warner for close to two decades, will head up biz dev and strategy for SoundCloud, which raised $60 million near the end of last year.

SoundCloud has been positioning itself as a sort of “YouTube for audio” and lets users post and share music files. In theory, it’s not supposed to be a platform for copyrighted music, though lots of music acts and their labels have already been using the company as a marketing platform.

My understanding is that the company isn’t trying to create another on-demand service like Spotify, Beats Music or Rhapsody, which let users listen to any song they want. Instead, SoundCloud appears to be haggling for deals that would give them the ability to stream some of the label’s catalog.

One big sticking point: How to deal with user-created mash-ups of multiple songs — one of SoundCloud’s most popular genres.

Earlier this year, SoundCloud was in sales talks with Twitter, but that deal fell apart.

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