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Is SoundCloud a Business or a Community?


Smokepurpp, a rapper who is part of the scene known as SoundCloud rap, meeting his fans in Portland, Oregon.

Kyle Johnson for The New York Times

The Popcast is hosted by Jon Caramanica, a pop music critic for The New York Times. It covers the latest in pop music criticism, trends and news.

Earlier this year, the streaming service SoundCloud was in dire financial straits, so much so that reports of its imminent demise began to circulate throughout the media, and Chance the Rapper, a fan of the service, announced that he was at work on a way to save the struggling company.

But SoundCloud isn’t just a music delivery service; it’s also a place where musical communities congregate and, in the case of what’s come to be known as SoundCloud rap, can grow into a global force. That opens up the question of what is lost when the work of an individual creator is placed in the clutches of a corporation, and what happens when the corporation doesn’t have the capacity, or the inclination, to continue to archive and promote that work. And that situation is amplified when the creators come from vulnerable communities.

To discuss the tension between the world of tech and the world of culture, and also what responsibilities tech companies might have toward its creator communities, Mr. Caramanica is joined on this week’s Popcast by Jenna Wortham, a staff writer at The New York Times magazine and co-host of the Still Processing podcast, who recently wrote about the hole that might be left behind were SoundCloud to disappear.

Email your questions, thoughts and ideas about what’s happening in pop music to popcast@nytimes.com.

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