SoundCloud gets $170M Rescue Safety Net

The struggling digital music service secured a fresh round of funding that assures SoundCloud will remain independent.

The struggling digital music service today secured a fresh round of funding that assures SoundCloud will remain independent, even as a new executive team takes over to steer the service into the future.

The Raine Group, a boutique merchant bank, joined with the Singapore-based investment company Temasek, in leading a $169.5 million investment round that infuses SoundCloud with much-needed cash.

Former Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor succeeds founder Alex Ljung as chief executive, and Michael Weissman, another former executive at the video platform, was named SoundCloud’s chief operating officer.

Ljung and SoundCloud co-founder Eric Wahlforss will remain with the company they founded a decade ago. Ljung will serve as chairman of SoundCloud’s board, and Wahlforss as chief product officer.

Musicians already turn to SoundCloud to invite unusually public collaborations on unfinished works, promote new songs — or get private feedback before releasing a track to the world. Trainor said this open artistic experimentation gives the platform a unique identity in the digital music space.

SoundCloud’s Pro and Pro Unlimited subscription services provide insights into which tracks are most popular and where. The Pro service, which costs $7 a month, provides basic stats such as play counts and likes, see plays by country, turn on or off public comments and upload up to six hours of audio. The Unlimited offering, for a $15 monthly fee, lifts the cap on the amount of music that can be uploaded and provides more specific analytics.

Trainor hopes to increase the number of creators who pay to use SoundCloud Unlimited’s service by adding an even more robust creative toolkit.

Raine partner Fred Davis, a former music industry attorney who represented several top acts before entering investment banking, including Kanye West and the Black Eyed Peas, said artists feel a fierce loyalty to SoundCloud — and worry about its fate.

This tight connection with the artist community, together with SoundCloud’s collection of original recordings and evolving works, attracted Raine’s investment, despite the recent layoff of 40 percent of its workforce and speculation that it would run out of money by the end of the year.

SoundCloud last reported some 170 million users.

Over the past 12 months, SoundCloud said it has seen double-digit gains in creator subscriptions, uploads, listening time and listener subscriptions. Total revenue has more than doubled to more than a $100 million annual run-rate this year.