The Man Behind Soundcloud Has a Powerful Vision for How Music Can Bring People Together
While studying engineering at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Soundcloud founder and CEO Alexander Ljung met his future business partner, Eric Wahlforss. At the time, they were both making and producing music, but they didn't have a way to easily share it with one another. In the absence of such a technology, they decided to create it.
Seven years and thousands of audio tracks later, Soundcloud is one of the world's leading audio platforms. According to the company, the platform now has 175 million unique listeners and about 12 hours of audio are uploaded to the site every minute.
"I want to connect every human online through the power of music and audio," Ljung told Mic.
Unlike straight music streaming sites like Spotify or Pandora, Soundcloud offers musicians a place to collaborate and share work with one another. As it's grown in popularity, it's become a place to listen to mainstream artists and to discover untapped talent, allowing any musician to publish music to a wide audience. Lorde has come a long way from the first EP she uploaded to Soundcloud back in 2012 — just take a look at her now.
"We have people who could be anywhere in the world at the moment, creating a completely new genre that hasn't been known before, and within a very short amount of time, that may be the biggest thing in the world," Ljung told MIT Technology Review in 2014.
Listeners can use the platform to hear the latest tracks from their favorite artists, DJs and music producers can share mixes, beats and tracks easily between one another, and young aspiring musicians can share their talents freely — all from the same website.
Ljung, originally from Sweden, operates Soundcloud from its headquarters in Berlin. Before founding the company, Ljung and Wahlforss handed out free accounts to DJs and producers in hopes they would upload tracks to the platform. Now, there are more than 100 million tracks on Soundcloud. As the CEO, Ljung focuses on the platform's business development and overall vision.
"The job of a CEO is to try to build an organization where you yourself are no longer needed. You'll probably never get there, but you should keep trying every day," he said.
Ljung and Wahlforss believe in Soundcloud's founding mission as one of the driving forces behind the organization. While the platform continues to search for a successful revenue model, the site's mission remains in tact.
"My general principle is, how many people we are impacting and how deeply we are impacting them," Ljung told EgonZehnder. "I fundamentally believe that Soundcloud has very unique properties in evoking emotions with people. It creates unity and connections between people."