In a twist on the traditional streaming-service payment model, Portishead have released their 2015 cover of ABBA’s “SOS” exclusively on SoundCloud — which not only brings the song to a major streaming platform for the first time, it utilizes SoundCloud’s “fan-powered royalty” system, whereby revenue from its streams are driven directly by the artist’s fan base. The system was introduced in March.
Most streaming services use a pool model — whereby all streaming and advertising revenue is put into one large pool that is then divided up and paid out based on which artists accrued the most total streams, which is why superstar artists like Taylor Swift and Drake are regularly the top-grossing streaming artists. Some have argued that a more equitable system would see the royalties from each listener’s subscription or advertising revenue distributed to the artists they actually listened to — for example, if a one listener played nothing but Portishead, the group would receive all of that listener’s royalties — rather than the pool system, and that is how SoundCloud’s fan-powered model works. Learn more here and at fanpoweredroyalties.com.
More from Variety
Listen to the group’s cover of “SOS,” which was originally recorded for the 2015 film “High-Rise,” starring Tom Hiddleston and Sienna Miller, here.
“When we heard that SoundCloud switched to a fairer user-centric payment system of streaming music, we were happy to make it the only place to stream our unreleased version of ABBA’s ‘SOS’,” said Geoff Barrow of Portishead. “After recording it years ago for Ben Wheatley’s film ‘High-Rise,’ we are excited to finally share it with the world, and we are even more excited that all streaming profits are going to a great cause.”
“Portishead’s timeless sound has inspired countless artists and given rise to many emerging genres on SoundCloud,” says Michael Pelczynski, Head of Content & Rightsholder Strategy at SoundCloud. “We are honored Portishead chose SoundCloud, the only platform where the artist to fan connection is directly rewarded, as the first place to exclusively release their cover of this iconic song.”
As part of the release of ‘SOS’, SoundCloud and Portishead will make a contribution to Mind, a U.K. charity focused on mental health.
Best of Variety