clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

SoundCloud needs more money, or it may sell at a fire-sale price

In 2014, the streaming music service thought it was worth $700 million. It could sell for much less.

DLD Conference 2012 - Day 2
SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung
Nadine Rupp / Getty Images
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 needs more money, or it needs a buyer.

Sources say the streaming music service has been trying to raise more than $100 million since last summer, without success. It has also talked to potential acquirers, including Spotify, without closing a deal.

The upshot, according to people familiar with the company: SoundCloud is now at a point where it may sell for less than the $700 million investors thought it was worth a few years ago. One source thinks it will consider bids, as long as they’re above the total investment it has raised to date — about $250 million.

SoundCloud’s struggle is taking place while there’s renewed investor interest in streaming music. Even though the industry’s economics are challenging, users have embraced streaming and are even willing to pay for it: Spotify, which would like to go public next year, says it has more than 50 million paid subscribers worldwide. Apple Music says it has more than 20 million paid subs.

SoundCloud’s stall has been out in the open for some time. Investors pegged its value at $700 million in 2014, and since then it has raised money twice — including last year’s $70 million Twitter investment — at the same valuation.

The service says it has 175 million monthly unique users, but it hasn’t updated that number since 2014, either.

A SoundCloud spokesperson would only say the company is talking to potential investors and strategic partners. The spokesperson added that the conversations, led by new CFO Holly Lim, “reflect the market interest in our differentiated platform, unmatched user reach and strong outlook for 2017 and beyond.”

Meanwhile, efforts to boost revenue by adding a paid subscription model to its free core service, don’t seem to have generated much traction. SoundCloud launched a $10-a-month service a year ago, after long negotiations with the big music labels and publishers; it just recently introduced a $5 tier. The company said it expects sales to grow by two-and-a-half times this year thanks to its new subscription service.

Last fall, SoundCloud had talks with Spotify about a sale, though it’s unclear how far those went. It has also talked to Google in the past, people familiar with the company say.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.