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Can SoundCloud Be the Facebook of Music?

“In ripped white jeans and a midriff-baring SoundCloud T-shirt, 20-year-old Toni Romitibelts one of her modern R&B-flavored songs to a roomful of strangers. She hits the notes, bobs to the beat, flips her long, magenta-streaked hair. Still, as she finishes her opening number, there’s a hint that she’s not yet a polished live performer: “That was the first one,” she says abruptly.

Her audience is all enthusiasm. Romiti is singing to the New York office of SoundCloud, the fast-growing Internet audio service that’s attempting to turn the corner from popular app to viable business. SoundClouders, as the company refers to grass-roots music makers such as Romiti, are the soul of the enterprise. If her career takes off, she’ll owe much to SoundCloud. She made her first recording on its app and has since attracted 70,000 followers and scored a handful of gigs she hopes will lead to a tour. When her first successful song took off, she recalls, she was getting 1,000 plays an hour. “I just sat at my computer and cried all day,” she says. “SoundCloud changed my life.”

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