There’s been some confusion from our readers and existing beta testers of SoundCloud (see their forums / login required) about what you can get with a free account on the service.

Co-founder Eric Wahlforss answers some of these concerns in comments. With a free account, you will be able to:

  • Send/upload up to five tracks a month, of any length/size
  • You can upload as many tracks as you like, but only your ten most recent tracks will be visible to others (unless you delete tracks). No tracks are deleted – you can upgrade/downgrade at will.
  • You get a DropBox, and the most recent five tracks dropped will appear (again, if you delete tracks as you listen to them, you’ll see more)
  • Make contact lists with up to 20 contacts
  • See basic stats

So, the free account does look reasonably usable for light use. That said, they are clearly trying to push people to pro accounts, which start at EUR9 / mo. (Even separate USD pricing would help, I think … even though the dollar has recovered a bit in recent weeks, unlike our – ahem – stock exchange.) Eric does promise more is coming in those pro accounts to entice you, if you feel the value proposition isn’t there yet.

Full details:

From comments:

Peter, this is Eric, one of the founders of SoundCloud. Thanks for a great post.

It’s been our vision from the very beginning to make SoundCloud more or less ad-free and totally streamlined for the needs of musicians and labels. Like other websites that provide real value to people/companies and unlike slow/bloated/ad-ridden/"free"-but-oh-we’ll-waste-your-time-instead sites, we do charge for our services.

Again to clarify, there will *of course* exist a free account. Sorry about the vague communication on this so far. It will hopefully be clear tomorrow. The free account will have certain limitations that I will list here (you’re really among the first ones to know).

You can:

  • Send 5 tracks/month
  • See the 10 latest sent tracks (they will also show on your profile)
  • Get a DropBox, but you’ll only see the last 5 tracks dropped (you can always remove tracks to see more)
  • Make contact lists with up to 20 people in them

The free account will work fine for quite a lot of use-cases. And you will always be able to go back to it, should you realize you don’t need a PRO accounts. Easy. We won’t delete any of your stored tracks, or anything else for that matter.

I should also mention that we’re working on a few *very* cool things that will land in the PRO accounts later this fall, like sets uploading/sharing, versioning of tracks, and more…

cheers // eric [currently working the nightshift on perfecting the site before the release…]

Dropboxes from SoundCloud can be added to your site.

I was confused on the stats portion and track limitations, so I asked Eric to clarify for us.

Do you get the same view of stats in the free account as you do in the light pro account?

yes, the basic stats graphs as in the PRO light account, but not info on exactly who listened and who downloaded.

What are the limitations on how many tracks you can upload?

you can upload as many tracks as you want over time, but only 5 tracks per month. only the last 10 will actually be shown on your profile, but you can always "unlock" your account to show them all by upgrading to any PRO account. if you downgrade back to free then they will again be hidden so that only the last 10 are shown (just like on flickr).

So, what do you get if you upgrade to the pro accounts? You lose the track limitations, for one, with 15 tracks per month (EUR9/mo) to unlimited tracks (EUR59/mo). With the EUR29+ accounts, you get enhanced support, more stats, and a branded dropbox, so it’s clear those are aimed at labels, venues, and the like.

I expect there will still be some pricing skepticism, though. I’m curious to hear – will the free account be enough for you? Any of you thinking you might pony up for one of the pro accounts? Or are you looking elsewhere?

We expect more changes to hit SoundCloud over the coming weeks, so we’ll be watching. I think this is a really important development, and one worth researching. I’m sure it’ll have some competition, and we’ll cover that, as well.