SoundCloud has announced a new partnership with Zefr, a content tracking company that currently works with YouTube to help identify songs on the platform and better facilitate either takedowns or ads being run against it. This means Zefr is YouTube's copyright enforcement manager. The announcement is light on the hard details of what the two companies plan to do together, though Zefr states it will "better understand the sharing of content on the platform." Some users are worried it could mean a stricter copyright enforcement and more ads.
The motivation beyond copyright may be to advance SoundCloud's capabilities to serve ads as it looks to mature and grow as a business. It currently boasts 175 million users as of its last count in late 2014, and that number has surely grown. Twelve hours of music are uploaded every minute, and the company received a $1.2 billion valuation after a recent $123 million round of funding, according to Tech Crunch.
"SoundCloud is continuing its evolution as a mature platform for labels and advertisers," said Alexander Ljung, co-founder and CEO of SoundCloud, in a statement. "Working with Zefr, SoundCloud is taking another step to becoming the powerhouse player in the digital audio business."
Of the majors, SoundCloud has only signed a content licensing deal with Warner Music while it continues its tenuous negotiations with the other two. This new Zefr partnership could mean that the new video pre-roll ads might be rolled out soon, notably for Warner.
"Zefr has been a leader in rights management for half a decade. SoundCloud is a vibrant platform where the fans are sharing content, and Zefr can find the right ways to use that fan activity for the benefit of SoundCloud, its music label partners and publishers," said Zach James, co-founder of Zefr. "We are excited to use our technology and expertise to help make SoundCloud a go-to platform for content creators and advertisers."
The move is big for Zefr, which now boasts two of the biggest music discovery platforms on the Web as clients. SoundCloud has proven to be difficult to enforce and monetize, but this move may help in a big way.