It took a while to complete, but SoundCloud and Universal Music Group have a licensing agreement in place. Back in 2014, reports surfaced that the music hosting site was working on deals with both Universal and Warner Music, and the company inked an agreement with the latter in the months that followed. SoundCloud also reached a deal with Merlin last year, a company that represents 20,000 indie labels on matters of royalties and licensing. With its latest agreement, SoundCloud secures access to Universal Music's massive roster of artists which includes the Weeknd, Sam Smith and U2.
Yes, SoundCloud is still planning to announce a subscription model. While the company has been teasing the paid plan since around the time of Warner deal, details have been, and still are, scarce. The New York Times reports that the subscription model is slated to arrive this year, though, so perhaps we'll find out more soon enough. It was originally scheduled for 2015, but the pending Universal deal was likely one of the last pieces that needed to fall into place.
"We've got the majority of the music industry partnered with us now," said SoundCloud co-founder Alexander Ljung. The site and its mobile apps have become a popular spot for artists like Kanye West and many others to promote new work, mixtapes and more. It's also home to a number of podcasts, so it'll be interesting to see how a paid plan takes shape. SoundCloud drew the ire of labels for hosting music without licensing deals or paying royalties before working on agreements for proper use. Universal says the terms of the deal allow it to provide certain content only to subscribers, a policy the label reportedly wants Spotify to adopt as well.