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The death of SoundCloud could end the podcast bubble

The rise of Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube has caused to the slow but enviable death of SoundCloud. If you haven’t heard, SoundCloud laid off 40 percent of its staff. The move is seen as a way for the company to look more appealing to potential buyers but also buy the company more time. According to Techcrunch, the layoffs haven’t done much to save the company. SoundCloud only has enough money to operate until Q4 which is less than 80 days away! At the same time as SoundCloud’s struggles, Pandora is taking on water. They haven’t turned a profit in 17 years, and it’s struggling to find a way to turn a profit in the margin thin music industry. The only bright side is both SoundCloud and Pandora have strong brands. SoundCloud is known for emerging artist and podcasting, and Pandora has been around for almost two decades.

If SoundCloud does implode, which is possible, Rdio, Grooveshark, Rhapsody have all collapsed. Rdio went bankrupt, and Pandora bought the remain assets. Grooveshark was sued and seized by the music labels, and Rhapsody was rebranded as Napster. SoundCloud is different from the other services. The company focuses on letting anyone upload their music. Chance the Rapper is an unsigned rap artist who recently won an Emmy, something that never happens. He leveraged SoundCloud to build a community, release free music on there, and in turn, help spread the word about the site. But arguably the biggest part of SoundCloud is podcasting. Every podcast from ReCode Decode to our podcast uses SoundCloud to disrupt each episode. Every podcaster has turned to the site because it’s the cheapest and easiest way to host a podcast. Without the site, everyone would need to host episodes on their servers or use some old school podcast hosting service.

SoundCloud is an essential part of the podcasting community

SoundCloud has embraced podcasting over the years. They’ve added categories for podcasts, and they’ve setup how-to pages on using the site for podcasting. While there are other places to host a podcast, they’re second fiddle to uploading on SoundCloud. Owen Williams, who runs the Charged Tech podcast, switched to the service over another dedicated podcast host because of their ease of use and great embeds. Other podcasters have made similar decisions, which could become a big problem in the next year.

Hundreds of podcasts will need to switch services if SoudCloud does die. Some will decide it’s not worth it and close up shop, while others will make the jump to Blubrry. The problem with Blubrry is how confusing the site and setup can be for an amateur podcaster. SoundCloud lets you podcast in a few easy steps, while Blubrry uses WordPress and other complicated pieces to set up a working podcast and site. I know podcasts who only used SoundCloud to host their episodes and then added socials and a website as their podcast grew. Most podcasting hosts want you to set up a site and do other advanced steps before you fully understand what you’re getting into. Those advance steps are what kept so many people from podcast years ago when they first took off.

SoundCloud’s death will mean less technical podcasters will be out in the cold looking for an easy to use service. Which will lead to fewer people podcasting, which will then affect the number of people listening, which will also affect anyone currently podcasting. Then we’ll see bigger sites close up shop and move back to video or other forms of audio. The other problem that is posed is how will podcast embed their sounds on websites? SoundCloud has the best embeds for podcasting and virutally no one offers embeds, yet.

There is a bright outlook for podcasting even as SoundCloud dies. Anchor added the ability to podcast from within the app, no technical knowledge needed. If Anchor opens up to longer podcasts, I’d be able to host the Digital Bounds Podcast through Anchor.

Let me know what you think! Do you think SoundCloud will cause a problem for podcasting if they end up closing?