SoundCloud says it will start paying artists and record firms whose music is played on the popular streaming site.

Berlin-based SoundCloud boasts some 175 million unique listeners a month, but so far those who upload tracks to the site haven't received money.

The move coincides with the introduction of ads, the revenue from which will be shared with musicians and rights holders.

SoundCloud founder Alexander Ljung said Thursday that artists will be able to decide which tracks the audio and display ads can appear on, and initially only content played in the United States will be counted.

Ljung says the program will start with 20 partners ranging from major record companies to independent artists, but eventually everyone will be able to join.