2016: SoundCloud Startups

2016: SoundCloud Startups

Kass Jones



Since the mid-2010s, streaming music has become immensely popular with the accessibility of the internet also becoming much larger. Laptops and smartphones making it all the more simple to play your favorite songs any time you please. However, Spotify has been around for 9 years now and SoundCloud for 13, the popularity did not arise until Apple launched their very own streaming service in 2015, Apple Music. This brought streaming to the mainstream and began the decline of record sales in stores and online. 

Streaming is paying a  monthly subscription to gain access to hundreds of thousands of songs. With the use of Apple Music in 2015-16, Spotify was given a makeover and an updated catalog of music around this time to compete with Apple Music. Today, both hold very similar subscription fees, but Spotify also offers a free option where the listener has a limited amount of ‘skips’ as well as ads every couple songs. SoundCloud in 2015-16 was right in the middle of these two big name programs. Offering free music to stream with the occasional ad (without the premium option) the only catch was anyone could (and still can) post their music to SoundCloud for free.

Both Spotify and Apple Music have processes which inevitably require the artist to pay a fee to launch their music to the app. SoundCloud was not the first platform to do this; Youtube and Bandcamp allow anyone to upload their music for consumption. However, neither Youtube nor Bandcamp was in nearly as high a competition as SounCloud was with Spotify and Apple Music in 2015-16. Many artists in the Hip Hop and Rap scene who got discovered on SoundCloud are not only relevant but some of the biggest artists of the mid to late 2010s. Most notably: Lil Yachty, Playboi Carti, and Lil Uzi Vert, all platinum-selling rappers whose music has all affected the trap/rap music industry.


Playboi Carti

In 2016, a string of singles on Playboi Carti’s SoundCloud surfaced. Fetti, Talk, and The Omen hit strong in the community. Instrumentals reminiscent of early Chief Keef while pioneering the new Atlanta trap sound. Lyrically, not very complex, often about the rockstar lifestyle, drugs, women, and expensive clothing and fashion, Carti was a fresh appearance in the rap game. In his early work, he carries himself confident but laid back which is a common recurrence in the rap industry. Young Cash Carti solidified his place in the trap world with his 2017 XXL Freshmen spot as well as his deal with A$AP Mob’s Label AWGE and Interscope Records. 


Lil Yachty

Fellow Georgia native, Miles McCollum, more famously known as Lil Yachty was much more than a rapper he was a personality for the rap game. His unforgettable bright red braids, over the top jewelry, and fire sneakers really set him aside visually which helped boost his career early on. Tracks like Minnesota, One Night, and Broccoli brought Boat to the mainstream bringing SoundCloud with him. His infectious autotuned melodies, cocky attitude, and funny bars made his music catchy and very entertaining to listen to, Yachty would be in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 unveiling, have a Sprite commercial with Lebron James, and go platinum on his first single all in the span of a year.

Lil Uzi Vert

Lastly, Lil Uzi Vert, reinvents the rap scene in his earliest years. Releasing two full length projects in 2015-16 that are praised for creativity and originality. Uzi takes his confidence to a different level in the most entertaining way, stating in many songs that he does this for him. His weird personality, eccentric out of the box outfits, and ridiculous bars, Uzi has not slowed down since the day he started. Taking inspiration from the likes of Young Thug and Future’s music as well as their personas. He is easily the most technical and lyrical out of the three artists mentioned, usually rapping at fast pace and changing his flows periodically. Much like Carti, Uzi’s music focuses on the rockstar life as well as designer clothes and women, unlike Carti, Uzi uses lots of elements from electronic music, alternative rock, and even emo rock. With lyrics often about being alone and feeling like an outsider, Uzi is not only one of the first artists to bring Emo Rap to the radio, he’s one of the first rappers from SoundCloud to make it to the radio.