SoundCloud Updates Stat Tracking for Podcasters

SoundCloud LogoI’m somewhat less skeptical than I used to be about SoundCloud as a reliable platform for podcasting. Now that the company’s years-long beta program for podcasting has finally matured into a real product, it looked like SoundCloud was headed in the right direction. Of course, maturation never comes without some growing pains. And it turns out some SoundCloud users may be affected by a recent change to the company’s stats system.

Yesterday, Michael Wolf, host of the NextMarket podcast and curator of the podcast directory, posted this tweet about an e-mail exchange he’d had with SoundCloud support:

Wolf sent the e-mail to SoundCloud asking why he was seeing a noticeable change in his stats. SoundCloud’s response states that the company had recently reconfigured its metrics because their system had been tracking downloads made thru RSS feeds in the same manner as plays thru embedded SoundCloud web players:

As part of our podcasting service coming out of beta, there have been some changes in how data will appear.

We’ve started tracking RSS downloads as their own unique, private metric to help you more clearly understand how your audience is engaging with your content.

Previously, RSS downloads and SoundCloud plays were tracked together under the same ‘plays’ metric. Now, podcasters can clearly see RSS download activity and the country, city and top app data associated with those downloads.

Since you were using SoundCloud to distribute your sounds via RSS before April 28th 2015, play counts may appear higher on older episodes and lower on newer episodes, but the difference in displayed play count is not due to any loss of listenership. Rather, the play count displayed publicly on newer tracks may appear lower because the public play count now only reflects SoundCloud plays and excludes RSS activity.

Before the change, SoundCloud players that displayed the total number of plays for a podcast episode were showing play counts based on web listens and RSS feed downloads together. Now, those players will only display numbers based on listens made thru SoundCloud players. Downloads that happen thru RSS feeds will be tracked separately and those numbers will be available only thru the SoundCloud dashboard.

It’s unclear as to why SoundCloud made this change. Overall, it seems like a smart move, as it’ll allow podcasters to have a better understanding of how listeners are engaging with their episodes. Still, this move could make some producers unhappy as those numbers publicly displayed on SoundCloud players will probably go down. The only solution SoundCloud offers is to simply turn off the public play count that’s shown on embedded media players.

Probably not the favored option for podcasters who felt a sense of pride over big numbers being shown on their public players. But in podcasting, as in life, change is inevitable. Over time, I think most producers will appreciate having these two types of separate statistics.

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