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SoundCloud's Troubles Are a Burden on Independent Video Game Musicians

Video Game musicians weigh in on the SoundCloud news.

This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.

SoundCloud, the online audio distribution platform and publishing tool, was barely holding it together. That's according to a report that said the company only has enough funds for the next 50 days. Soundcloud recently laid off 40 percent of its staff last week and closed offices in San Francisco and London. And while Chance the Rapper might save the fledgling music service, its disappearance would certainly hurt the video game music circles.

Now, SoundCloud isn't just for video games I know. As a relatively open platform SoundCloud hosted content for all different kinds of music and audio content (an important distinction). And while music fans from all over can get together and share the music most important to them, I've always run in gaming crowds and as such, my experience with SoundCloud is mostly with video game artists sharing tracks, or me embedding a SoundCloud player into news posts for stories.

I reached out to a couple musicians working in the video game space to ask them about the recent news regarding some of SoundCloud's recent troubles, troubles which the company has downplayed since the initial reports about its financial troubles. Would SoundCloud's potential closure, a service I've commonly associated with independent creators, actually hurt video game composers and podcasters?

Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace), told USgamer that one of SoundCloud's defining features is its social media aspects. "The social aspect has made it a go to platform for many content creators looking for an easy way to share content and promote discussion with their audience," said Vreeland. "Platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp who make content easy to share are a crucial part of the current landscape for musicians, especially those of us who are independent."

And while Vreeland suggests that if SoundCloud were to disappear, another service would eventually come out to take its place, SoundCloud already houses some of Vreeland's music library.

"For me personally, references to many pieces of content I've created and shared on my blog over the years would go dark and I'd have to figure out a way to re-share those. I would sincerely miss the ease with which Soundcloud allows for audience and artist to communicate directly and specifically about content, and even specific moments in content. I've met a lot of content creators over the years via SoundCloud and heard lots of great new music there, so it's always a shame when those avenues may no longer be open."

For composer Jake Kaufman, his thoughts on the SoundCloud news as a musician is similar to Vreeland's. "As an artist, regardless of where you upload it, the music you share is a major investment. I believe it's wise to spread the love and diversify, just like with stocks....My method isn't to mirror everything I've ever released across 8 different sites - that's too much work. But by having a few homes, each with its own unique vibe, you get a chance to build several micro-street-teams of followers and commenters"

And while, Kaufman has-using his own analogy- diversified his portfolio, that doesn't mean he won't be left unscathed if a popular platform like SoundCloud shuttered:

"I've been a happy SoundCloud pro subscriber forever, and plenty of cool people have found out about my music through it, so I wish them the best and hope they can stay afloat. If not, I'll thank them for their years of hard work and great tech, and then I'll find whatever is the new hotness, post some music, and meet some rad people."

There are video game music outfits who are more at risk if a potential SoundCloud shutter happened. Scarlet Moon Productions, who represent several musicians working in video games, explained that SoundCloud shutting down would hurt, at least in the immediate aftermath. "It's going to be a big problem if they shut down in the short term," wrote a Scarlet Moon representative. "All of our embedded demos across our label are SoundCloud. Our artists also use the service extensively. We'll all be scrambling to find a replacement until a better solution rises up, issue with YouTube is the horrendous sound quality."

While it's hard to guarantee the permanence of anything in this digital age, SoundCloud going down would take a lot of content down with it. And while the company says news of its imminent demise have been exaggerated, plenty of music professionals are worried about the consequences. Whether that happens in 50 days, or in a year.

If you're a musician or artist who's uploaded content to SoundClound, Vreeland and Kaufman recommend backing up your work on other platforms like BandCamp or Internet Archive (not the Wayback Machine). "It's got all kinds of nice features for uploading, categorizing, and streaming original tracks (and even images, videos and software), is extremely unlikely to vanish anytime soon," says Kaufman. "And" he adds "[it's] backed up six ways to Sunday. "

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