Let’s say you’re an up-and-coming independent artist looking to get your music in front of as many ears as possible. In today’s streaming world, that means getting your songs on major platforms like SoundCloud and Spotify. But between their different models, audiences, and payout structures, you may be wondering which is better for independent artists.

As an indie musician myself, I’ve spent years navigating the pros and cons of these platforms. SoundCloud allows you to upload unlimited tracks for free and connect directly with your fans. But Spotify has a much larger reach, a more robust payout system, and stronger playlisting opportunities. The truth is, as an independent artist today, you need to leverage both platforms to maximize your exposure and earning potential.

The choice between SoundCloud vs Spotify isn’t an either/or. It’s about understanding how each works and developing a smart distribution strategy to grow your fanbase and make money from your music. In this article, I’ll break down how SoundCloud and Spotify differ, how to release on both, and share some tips to optimize each platform based on my own experiences as an independent artist. The streaming world may seem big and confusing, but with the right strategy, you can find your place in it.

Why SoundCloud Is Great for Independent Musicians

If you’re an up-and-coming musician, SoundCloud should be at the top of your list. Here are a few reasons why SoundCloud reigns supreme for independent artists:

SoundCloud makes it easy to upload your music. You can quickly create an account and start uploading your tracks right away. Within minutes, your music will be live and ready to share with the world.

SoundCloud has a huge audience of dedicated music fans. Over 175 million music and audio lovers use SoundCloud each month to discover new songs, podcasts, and more. Getting your music in front of this many potential new listeners is invaluable exposure for any musician.

SoundCloud lets you connect directly with your fans. You can see who’s listening to your music, follow your top fans, and send them messages to build real connections. Engaging with your fans in this personal way helps to build a loyal following.

SoundCloud’s free account option allows you to upload up to 3 hours of content. For most independent artists, this provides plenty of space to share your music. If you need more upload time, SoundCloud’s paid plans are very affordable.

While Spotify also has a huge listener base, their platform is more geared toward major label artists. SoundCloud champions independent musicians by giving you full control over your creative work. On SoundCloud, you can share works-in-progress, collaborate with other artists, get direct feedback from fans, and more.

How Spotify Benefits Independent Artists

Spotify is hands down the best streaming platform for independent artists looking to get their music in front of new listeners. Here are a few reasons why:

Spotify has the largest music catalog of any streaming service, with over 70 million songs and 2.6 million podcasts. This huge catalog means more opportunities for your music to be discovered. Spotify also has the largest number of monthly active users, with over 365 million. More listeners mean more potential fans for your music.

Their algorithms are getting smarter at recommending music similar to what listeners already enjoy. If Spotify identifies your music as a good match for certain genres or moods, they’ll start recommending your songs to listeners who like that type of music. This can expose you to new audiences.

Spotify for Artists provides you with lots of data and insights to help promote your music. You’ll see stats on listeners, streams, playlists, and more. You can see where your fans are located, what times of day they listen, and their age ranges. Use this info to better target your marketing and touring.

Spotify makes it easy for you to submit your music for editorial consideration. If your songs are selected for official Spotify playlists like New Music Friday, Discover Weekly, or a genre playlist, it results in tons of new streams and followers. Getting on these playlists is one of the best ways for indie artists to gain exposure.

Comparing SoundCloud and Spotify Features

When it comes to platforms for independent music artists, SoundCloud and Spotify are two of the biggest players. Both offer ways to upload and share your music, build an audience, and even make money from your songs. But which is better for indie artists? Here are some of the main features to compare.

Upload Options

On SoundCloud, you can upload up to 3 hours of audio for free. Spotify allows you to upload your music through music distributors like CD Baby, TuneCore or DistroKid. While Spotify itself doesn’t charge for uploads, the distributors typically charge a small annual fee. SoundCloud is more geared for uploading demos, remixes, podcasts or other audio. Spotify is focused on distributing full songs and albums.

Playlists and Stations

Spotify offers both programmed playlists and algorithmic radio stations based on your listening activity and tastes. Getting your music on Spotify’s popular playlists like “Mint”, “Chill Hits” or “Fresh Finds” can lead to major exposure. SoundCloud also has genre stations and the ability for listeners to like and repost your tracks. However, SoundCloud’s stations have a smaller reach.


On Spotify, you can make money from your music through stream revenue and licensing for playlists. As of 2020, Spotify pays about $0.004 per stream. While the exact amount varies, a few hundred thousand streams can generate a decent check. If you’re really interested in making more money on Spotify, then you need more streams! The best way to get more stream is to buy from a reliable store like Subscriberz

The good thing about this store is that it doesn’t only sell Spotify streams/plays, it also sells SoundCloud followers and plays at good prices. SoundCloud’s monetization options are more limited. You can make money through the SoundCloud Premier program which allows ads to be placed on your profile and tracks. However, the payouts are typically much smaller than Spotify. 


So there you have it, independent artists. Both SoundCloud and Spotify have a lot to offer in terms of getting your music out there and building an audience. At the end of the day, you need to determine what’s most important to you. If full creative control and connecting directly with your fans are top priorities, SoundCloud may be the way to go. If reach, discovery, and making a living from your music are higher on the list, Spotify is probably your best bet. The good news is you don’t necessarily have to choose one over the other. Many independent artists find success using both platforms to promote their music. The more places people can find your songs, the better. Now get out there, spread your music far and wide, and keep hustling! With hard work and persistence, either SoundCloud or Spotify can be a great tool to help turn your passion into your profession.

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