They say patience is a virtue. That platitude has definitely applied to all of those who’ve been waiting for SoundCloud to finally end its years-long beta program for podcasters. Well, the wait is over. As of this week, SoundCloud has opened its podcasting platform to anyone who’d like to use it.
At its core, the services provided by SoundCloud are the same as they’ve ever been. But it’s no longer required for podcasters to request an invite to the podcasting platform. Instead, anyone can sign up and begin using SoundCloud’s podcasting features right away. Users can begin with a free account that supplies three hours of audio playback time per month and limited SoundCloud stats and control options. Users can also buy into one of two SoundCloud Pro offerings. The first tier costs $6/month (or $55/year) for six hours of monthly upload time with access to some of SoundCloud’s extended stats and control tools. The second tier costs $15/month (or $135/year) and comes with the full complement of SoundCloud stats and control tools.
Based strictly on pricing, SoundCloud is definitely a solid competitor to most of the established companies in the podcast hosting space. SoundCloud even offers integration with third-party stat services like Podtrac and Blubrry so users can use those services to track most of their episode downloads and plays (due to limitations in the SoundCloud system, plays initiated on the SoundCloud website or SoundCloud’s embeddable player won’t be tracked by third-party stats systems).
With SoundCloud finally taking its podcasting service out of beta, I’m a little less skeptical about it than I used to be. And while I’m sure many podcasters will flock to the service, I still think it’s wise to approach SoundCloud with a little bit of caution. Remember that SoundCloud began as a service devoted to music and musicians, and SoundCloud is still facing challenges in terms of keeping the major record labels happy. The company is also operating on a late round of venture capital funding. Potentially increasing revenues from the podcasting platform could help SoundCloud gain some real financial stability. But the typical exit strategy for these types of companies is to get bought out by a bigger entity. Until SoundCloud truly becomes a profitable, self-sustaining enterprise, its future is still very much up in the air.