HEAD IN THE CLOUDS

A short list of musicians who should really take over as SoundCloud CEO

Music-streaming service SoundCloud, loath as it may be to admit it, is having a bit of trouble as of late. As bigger rivals like Spotify and Apple Music begin to rule the listening market, smaller services are struggling to turn a profit; and getting rid of a large chunk of one’s company hardly screams success—unless you’re Justin Timberlake going solo out of NYSNC, Beyoncé fleeing Destiny’s Child to become the world’s biggest pop star, et cetera.

While SoundCloud’s CEO and co-founder Alexander Ljung attempted to soothe fears last week—perhaps including his own—by promising that the company will not fold or be gobbled up by someone far mightier, he didn’t give specifics beyond insisting that the rumors of SoundCloud’s collapse are “just noise.”

If it doesn’t work out for Ljung, we’ve come up with some promising musician candidates who have demonstrated enough of a penchant for innovation, resilience, and adept financial management to take over.

Chance the Rapper

Chance’s ties to SoundCloud run deep. The young rapper got his start on the platform, and last week he made some intriguing declarations on Twitter:

Whether he tossed a financial lifeline to the company or simply pledged support, Chance certainly restored many fans’ faith in SoundCloud. And as a self-made millionaire who broke from record-industry norms and managed to achieve incredible success by releasing his music for free, he knows a thing or two about money. Chance’s concern for accessible music and artists’ rights also fit well with SoundCloud’s founding ambition—to be a place for musicians to freely share their music with those who love it the most.

Frank Ocean

Consider Ocean a bit of a hustler. The R&B star worked several jobs as a youngster to balance a fledgling music career with life’s less glamorous reality: paying rent. He went from background singer in an LA rap crew to ghostwriting Beyoncé tracks and collaborating with A-listers Kayne West and Jay-Z for their album Watch the Throne. He’s proven himself an excellent networker, a resilient musician, and a damn good businessman.

Stormzy

The grime artist already knows a thing or two about business management. He produces his own music, and that of many other artists, via his independent record label, #Merky. Despite the fame and fortune, he has stayed true to grime’s gritty roots. Perseverance to original values is key to SoundCloud’s long-term success; having a leader that understands the importance of brand identity would stand the platform in good stead.

KYGO

SoundCloud considers the Norwegian DJ as a bit of a prodigy of theirs. His extensive mixtapes mean he is possibly as close one can get to the roots of Soundcloud’s user base. And he’s not afraid to tackle challenge and reap the rewards thereafter; his mix of Ed Sheeran’s hit “I See Fire” helped him reach international acclaim. For those worried his creativity might hinder his ability to lead a business, worry not. He did start a degree in business and finance, so he’s got a pretty solid grip of the basics.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift doesn’t like free music, but she does champion artists’ rights—and she recently rescinded her feud with Spotify and put her catalog back on the service anyway. Swift was the highest-paid musician in 2015, and she’s known for being a complete master of persuasion and manipulation. Plus, Swift’s been out of the spotlight for more than a year—so surely she’s got enough time on her hands.

Ryan Leslie

An entrepreneur at heart, Leslie would find an easy time transitioning from musician to manager. The American record producer launched his own business, SuperPhone, back in 2013 and it operates under a fairly similar premise to SoundCloud: it’s all about creating connections and helping artists break out of niche circles to reach a much more massive audience.

Jay-Z

Jay’z already bought and turned around one music streaming service. What’s another? Sure, Tidal isn’t doing that well of late, compared to juggernauts like Spotify—but as long as the Jiggaman’s got the coin in the coffers to fund his darlings, that doesn’t really matter.


Read this next: The complete guide to getting your money’s worth out of streaming music

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