Back at the beginning of 2017, SoundCloud was rumored to be in talks of being bought out by Google for $500 million, a deal that almost defines the meaning of “hindsight” following a truly tumultuous year for the streaming platform. The company laid off 40% of its employees last July in order to “ensure” their “path to long-term, independent success,” and then were given a $170 million investment from Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor in order to stay afloat. Trainor was initially reported to replace original CEO Alex Ljung, but it became clear that while Trainor would be the new CEO, Ljung would still keep his position as Chairman of the company.
All of this however, was before recent reports suggesting that SoundCloud has “drastically reduced” the sound quality of songs posted to its platform from 128kbps (MP3) to 64kbps (Opus), which is half of the 128kbs MP3 standard. According to Far Out Magazine, when Pitchfork reached out for a comment a representative from SoundCloud responding simply: “SoundCloud has not altered its approach to audio quality.” The representative later added that they “have been using the Opus codec (among others)” since 2016, as well as stating that they “regularly test different combinations of encoding and streaming to offer listeners a quality experience on any device.” Denying that they’ve reduced the audio quality, the representative did admit to reducing the bitrate.