UPDATED: Twitter’s acquisition of SoundCloud could hit the right note

20 May 2014

In what could be one of its most astute acquisitions to date, social-messaging player Twitter is on the verge of acquiring music and audio sharing platform SoundCloud.

SoundCloud is a platform for musicians and podcasters who want to share audio across devices, websites and social media platforms, and achieve maximum impact.

Sound designer Alex Liung and artist Eric Wahlforss founded the Berlin-headquartered company in 2007 to enable musicians to share audio.

One of the key features of SoundCloud is it allows artists to upload their music or podcast, create a distinctive URL and embed their audio file anywhere they choose.

Combined with social media like Twitter or Facebook, this can have an explosive force in spreading audio and it was upon SoundCloud that controversial audio was recorded of Turkey’s prime minister that led to him attempting to ban Twitter in his country.

Songbird intent on striking the right chord

SoundCloud has morphed into a social network in its own right, with 40m registered users and more than 250m listeners. Media sites across the world are using its APIs to host and share podcasts.

According to Re/Code, citing sources close to both companies, this could be Twitter’s most expensive acquisition to date.

Earlier this year, SoundCloud announced US$60m in Series D funding that valued it at US$700m.

Last year, Twitter acquired mobile advertising player MoPub in a deal that valued it at more than US$300m.

The acquisition could reach the right high notes for Twitter, which has been trying and failing at getting a music platform up and running. According to music tech blogger Peter Watts, SoundCloud was the top music platform for generating the most tweets (42.6m) on Twitter last year.

Updated 21 May 2014 at 8.31am: According to a report from The Wall Street Journal citing a person familiar with the matter, Twitter has backed out of talks to buy SoundCloud, allowing the deadline for exclusivity on talks pass without reaching an agreement. It has also been noted by German magazine Der Spiegel that the talks are off, with speculation pointing at SoundCloud’s lack of licensing agreements to stream music.

SoundCloud image via Shutterstock

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years