After years skirting the line on massive copyright infringement, the music streaming site SoundCloud is going legit. Instead of fighting content owners, SoundCloud is trying to sign up all the labels to licensing deals and start charging listeners. It's the end of an era for streaming music. Once the overlooked stepchild of file-sharing, SoundCloud allowed users to upload songs whether or not they owned the rights; now, an automated system protects the license-holders and takes down offending remixes.
If SoundCloud can make the jump to legitimacy, it will be by the skin of their teeth. There are reports that Universal and Sony aren't happy with SoundCloud's negotiating and are preparing to file a huge infringement suit. It's a harsh reminder that even an established streaming site that's valued near a billion dollars is still one lawsuit away from total oblivion. But even if it's a precarious spot, there's a market position opening with SoundCloud's move. Electronic DJs and up-and-coming rappers still need a place to post their music, and their fans need a place to listen.