SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung gave a rare interview to Music Business Worldwide, and answered some questions about the company’s plans to launch a subscription service. But what was interesting about the interview isn’t Ljung’s answers, rather, it’s the questions that he refused to answer.
Music Business Worldwide asked Ljung how much he cares about bringing record labels on board. SoundCloud is negotiating with labels to convince them to bring music to the site. Ljung explains that the company wants “to be in every territory; a universal programme that eventually every creator is in.”
There’s one key different between SoundCloud and other streaming service: It’s free, and open to anyone to upload music. Keeping that spirit of creativity and openness alive as it introduces a premium tier is going to be a struggle for the platform.
Music Business Worldwide asked Ljung what difference it would make if, in a year, the company hadn’t signed a crucial deal with Sony Music. Ljung was evasive, replying with “Ask me in a year. I don’t have any comments on potential partners or their potential future in a potential case.”
The non-answers kept coming. When asked about reports of SoundCloud giving equity to music labels, Ljung responded with “We have no comments on any potential deal structures. All of that is between the partners and ourselves.” And Ljung’s response to a question about Sony pulling music from the platform? “No comment.”
Things got really awkward when Music Business Worldwide asked Ljung about the number of people who could be willing to pay for a SoundCloud subscription. “I’m not going to go on the record on that one! Ask Ralph Simon or a futurist,” he said. He was pressed further and asked if he has a dream number that he would like to see. “Nope,” Ljung said.
Music Business Worldwide also asked Ljung a key question: Will SoundCloud ever be profitable? Ljung actually answered that, replying “Yes.” But when press further and asked when that might happen, he responded with “No comment.”
Ljung’s cofounder, SoundCloud CTO Eric Wahlforss, often serves as the public face of the company. He told Business Insider earlier this month that the company is going to be more vocal about its achievements, especially as the world of music streaming gets more competitive with the launch of Apple Music:
I think we should make more noise about it, I think we will make more noise about it, because there are a lot of things to make noise about. It’s much easier for us than for some other companies to actually talk about what we do because it is quite clear that we have a unique story to tell. That’s something we should be doing more of, I think.