It's happened. After all the chatter about what SoundCloud's business plans may be, today we felt the first drops of the oncoming deluge. From what we can telll, Giraffage's "Tell Me" was patient zero in Operation Monetization for SoundCloud. When we clicked on the producer's new track we were alarmed: A pop-up audio ad for Jaguar Motors interrupted our listening, requiring us to be sold-to before the actual track could begin.
It felt a little like a violation. All we wanted to do was check out some chilled-out vibes from the Fool's Gold artist (and Porter Robinson tour-opener), but instead we were forced to endure a smarmy British man extoll the virtues of the sound-system in a car we can't afford.
When held in contrast to competing music streaming outlets, Pandora or Spotify, maybe this isn't such a big deal. Spotify makes free users sit through entire commercial breaks, as does Pandora for its non-paying subscribers. An occasional audio pop-up on the otherwise free SoundCloud might not be the end of the world. Even further, these ads don't seem to be appearing on all SoundCloud posts, just certain tracks from labels that we presume have agreed to the arrangement.
This is what popped up when we clicked the 'Why Ads?' link:
This is likely just step one of SoundCloud's monetization plan. Despite massive traffic and plays, the enterprise still isn't profitable. This week's shift to pre-listening ad-serving indicate some big changes coming fast around the corner.