SoundCloud vs Spotify – What’s the Difference? (2022)

Spotify shines with its large database, handy features, and user-friendly interface. It mainly focuses on mainstream and popular music with superb sound quality. On the other hand, Soundcloud focuses more on independent music and offers a platform where everyone can upload and share their music.

Soundcloud and Spotify are two of the most popular music streaming services today. As both services have their unique approaches to different needs, they have their advantages and disadvantages, making the comparison harder. 

Let’s compare both services’ features to find which one is better for you!

Price

Starting with the price, Spotify costs $9.99/month for a single membership, and a family of six plans for $14.99/month. There is a family plan available for $15.99/month and an individual studio plan for $4.99/month. On the other hand, Soundcloud’s premium services , Soundcloud GO and GO+, are $4.99/month and $9.99/month respectively, but they also offer a free plan to listen to the content and upload records for a given duration.

Spotify also has a free plan, but it limits most of the features that make the platform enjoyable and versatile. As they profit from subscriptions and pay artists their share according to the copyrights regulations and stream counts, they rely more on income than Soundcloud.

Soundcloud is more focused on building a free platform and following than on revenue. So, Soundcloud is a great platform even without a paid subscription. They allow you to listen to music and even upload some of yours for a limited duration without any payment.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is a crucial aspect for most music listeners, especially if you have high-quality monitors or headphones. Spotify offers up to 320 kbps streaming quality for premium users, while Soundcloud offers 128 kbps, and Soundcloud GO+ (high-quality streaming) offers 320 kbps.

For normal Spotify users, the streaming quality is pretty good, with 160 kilobits per second. Premium users can go to settings and turn on the high-quality streaming to have 320 kbps high-quality sound. So you will stream more data each second, giving you a richer and more detailed sound.

Soundcloud offers 256 Kbps AAC (320 kbps MP3) for Premium users and 128 kbps format for free users.

Popularity

Spotify is the biggest music streaming service today, with over 400 million monthly active users, including 180 million premium subscribers. Soundcloud is also pretty popular, with 76 million registered users and 175 million monthly listeners.

Spotify is more popular among casual music listeners who are after mainstream and popular artists and tracks. At the same time, Soundcloud offers a better platform for beginner musicians who want to share their work and listeners who are seeking independent hidden gems in the music world.

Spotify offers more handy tools, such as the option to browse lists of music from different record labels and share the playlists with other listeners, like friends, family, etc., as well as being able to see what friends on your account are listening to. These features put Spotify in a more social media realm, which is a big reason behind the popularity of the platform.

Music Catalog Size

As of 2022, Spotify has over 80 million songs in its music catalog. These songs are mainly from the mainstream music scenes, which are highly popular globally. On the other hand, Soundcloud has a more comprehensive catalog with over 200 million songs, but the songs are mainly from independent musicians.

So, if you want to listen to some popular music or labeled music, Spotify is the platform for you. But, if you are an explorer who wants to dive deep into the realm of new and independent musicians, Soundcloud has a lot more to offer than Spotify.

When it comes to podcasts and audiobooks, Spotify is the richest platform today. You won’t be able to find any podcasts or audiobooks on Soundcloud.

Artists Perspective

From the artists’ perspective, Soundcloud is a great platform to reach some listeners, create a fan base, and use the analytics data and comments sections as feedback. Spotify is better for making money with streaming counts, Merchbar, and Songkick integrations for selling merchandise and tickets.

Soundcloud is heaven for new musicians as you can upload your tracks to the platform, introduce your music to listeners, create a fan base and interact with them. Plus, Soundcloud offers great analytics data for making your marketing strategy, and there is a comment section where you can see the feedback of the audience on your tracks. These are all great tools for new musicians to grow and progress with their careers.

Spotify is not as friendly as Soundcloud to new musicians. Spotify is more suited for professional musicians as it allows you to make money with streaming counts of your songs and integrate Songkick and Merchbar to your artist profile for selling merchandise and concert tickets.

Song Discovery

When it comes to song discovery, Spotify offers excellent features such as creating radios based on an artist, album, or song, offering you new discoveries every week depending on what you listen to, and allowing you to choose any playlist created by different users.

Spotify provides a 30-track “Discover Weekly” playlist, depending on the music you listen to. Subscribers get 6 daily personalized playlists. You can also create radios to find similar songs to an album, artist, or song. You can see what friends are listening to.

Soundcloud also offers some nice touches for exploring music, like the explore tab that shows the trending music, which you can filter with genres and tags. You can also follow other users to see what they like and get notified when they add a song to their favorites list. You can also check the sidebar, where related music to what you are listening to is apparent.

Offline Listening

Both Spotify and Soundcloud allow the users to listen to the songs they downloaded offline without an internet connection. However, with Spotify, only premium members can use the offline mode, while with Soundcloud, free members can also download the songs and use them offline.

Lyrics

While Spotify has a great lyrics section that automatically scrolls the lyrics like a karaoke screen, Soundcloud does not offer any service for song lyrics. In addition to the lyrics, Spotify also has a Story section where you can see additional info about the particular songs.

Apps and User Experience

Overall, Spotify has a better app and user experience compared to Soundcloud. Spotify features an effective, user-friendly design, making the app easy to navigate through. You can easily get used to the interface, find and add friends and artists, easily create playlists with a button and discover new music.

The mobile app of Spotify is also pretty similar to the desktop app and offers great ease of use. Almost all features on the desktop app are available in the mobile app. Soundcloud also has a great mobile app, but you can also use it through the browser of your mobile device. For computers, there is no app, so you have to go to the website via the browser.

While Spotify is better for listeners, Soundcloud offers good features, such as the stream button, which gets you all the uploaded tracks of any artist. You can create a cover of all your favorite tracks, classify the songs with genres, and share cover songs. You can also discover music with the explore tab or listen to the songs offline.

Conclusion

In short, both music platforms, Spotify and Soundcloud, are fantastic services for music lovers. Spotify is better for music enthusiasts who are into the mainstream, popular, and labeled music pieces and who want a reliable and high-quality service to listen to and explore new songs, artists, and playlists.

On the other hand, Soundcloud is better for beginner musicians who want to share their works with millions of listeners and use some great features to reach new listeners, get feedback to make their music better, and listen to some other independent artists. Soundcloud is also an excellent platform for exploring new musicians and listening to independent music, sitting away from mainstream land.

Berk Öztuna is a handpan player, percussionist, and guitarist. He has been playing multiple instruments over the last 10 years. He started his music career as a guitarist, playing with several bands before putting his main focus into playing the handpan.

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