"And yo, musicians definitely need knees."
With one simple statement released yesterday evening as part of a post on his Tumblr, Kaskade succinctly stated everything that likely needs to be said about the current relationship between SoundCloud, corporate interest and the EDM community. Following in the footsteps of early SoundCloud abandoning DJ/production don deadmau5, Kaskade is now in the midst of leaving Soundcloud for good.
On June 4, we reported about how the DJ/producer found 70% of his uploads to SoundCloud removed by the service after being flagged on numerous occasions. While yes, it is Kaskade, and yes, in many cases he certainly had the rights to the remixes, in some cases he had uploaded special edits that he had made–without prior consent–that were played in his own live sets. As he says in his own statement, "I post mash ups mainly because I don’t need to keep these things tucked under my pillow, pulling out my little Precious only to be played at gigs. You want to hear it? Grab it. Like it? Great. The end." Continuing, he said, labels "aren’t feeling this approach so much."
As much as Kaskade lost the independent control he had of his music on a platform like SoundCloud when he signed to Sony-owned Ultra Records, SoundCloud itself lost all of its "wild west" mentality when it came to posting music when it was announced that Twitter backed off its interest in purchasing SoundCloud. One of Twitter's main reasons for cooling on the purchase–concerns with copyright obligations–ultimately sealed the fate for artists wanting to post unauthorized bootlegs, edits and remixes on the site. With Financial Times stating that SoundCloud's worth was listed at $700 million in a recent round of funding, it's entirely plausible that given how rampant and difficult-to-navigate these copyright issues are becoming, SoundCloud's ownership would want to cash out while they're theoretically on top.
Thus, for as much as Kaskade is correct in being wholly apologetic about the issue, presents a very balanced picture of the modern environment, and moreover is right to want to start his own platform for sharing his own music, in blaming the labels, he may only be half correct. The labels certainly have an issue here. Label executives see dwindling profits for the music they release, and big-name DJs making unauthorized remixes hurts the potential return of investment value of a top song (although producers should NOT be having their own productions removed from their SoundCloud pages due to any kind of copyright issues). However, couple that with SoundCloud's owners potentially ready to sell, and ultimately, it's the musicians (and their ability to display their handiwork) that get cut off "at the knees."