Apple Music is encroaching on SoundCloud's territory. This afternoon, the company announced a deal with Dubset, a service that legally distributes DJ sets, remixes, and mashups. Music like this, which often wades into legally complex waters, is the sort of thing that originally put SoundCloud on the map.
The move is a win for Apple insofar as it may attract fans of EDM and other forms of electronic music that lean heavily on music sampled from other sources. The licensing of such music, as Billboard explains in its exclusive report on the partnership, "is incredibly complex" with some tracks having hundreds of rights holders.
Historically, user-generated sites like SoundCloud have avoided lawsuits by initially pointing to the safe harbor clause of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In recent years, SoundCloud has begun to strike licensing deals that allow it to host such music without running afoul of copyright or irking remix artists by issuing more takedown notices. SoundCloud, a Berlin-based startup, has struggled in recent years to forge a proper business around its user-generated music and audio service, which remains wildly popular. The company is expected to announce some kind of paid subscription tier later this year.
While SoundCloud plots a course that may bring it into closer competition with Spotify and Apple Music, the latter isn't wasting any time trying to lure the electronic music and hip-hop fans that have traditionally flocked to SoundCloud in droves. Apple, the latest entrant in the increasingly crowded and competitive music subscription market, quickly amassed 10 million paying subscribers after launching last year, a number that was aided by a three-month free trial (and, quite probably, by its inclusion of multi-user family plans). Apple declined to update those numbers at today's iPad and iPhone launch event, although we'll likely be hearing more as Apple Music approaches its one-year anniversary this summer. For the time being, Spotify reigns supreme. The company now has over 30 million paying subscribers, CEO Daniel Ek tweeted today.
Apple is admittedly late to a crowded party. But in addition to the marketing might of one of the biggest companies in the world, Apple Music boasts some next-level music curation in the form of remarkably well-crafted playlists and the Beats One radio station, which continues to rack up high-profile hip hosts and content partnerships. And now, with today's news, they're aiming to lure more users with a type of content that is often hard for subscription services to secure. Will it work? We'll have to wait and see what—if any—numbers Apple touts on stage this summer.