Best answer by djraveinpeace
Thanks for visiting the help forums :)
Concerning "if a listener listens and downloads my song, and another listener listens to the same song from the first listener's playlist"...this query does seem to confuse a few bits of soundcloud terminology...that's not a criticism by the way though, bear with me...if this first user listens to your song and downloads it, then that's as far as it would go, for another user to hear your track in a playlist created by the first user, that first user would need to have re-posted and/or added your song to a playlist on their profile...downloading your track does not re-post your song anywhere else. If they did re-post your song or add it to a playlist then any plays or downloads are still linked to your stats even though the play or download is actioned on someone else's profile, it still links back to you. The only way this wouldn't happen is if this first user did as you query, listen and download...then upload your tune directly to their own profile, it would then appear as their own track on their profile and any stats would be linked to them....this though would be frowned upon and, unless you gave permission for that to happen, you would be within your rights to report that user.
Regarding downloads without plays, well, this is something that does happen, Soundcloud has a massive user base and some people use it in a different ways to others, there are those that will press download just because the option is there to do so, odd certainly but, as you say, if they already know who it is they are downloading then maybe fair enough, without asking the non-playing downloading user its difficult to say exactly why.
I hope this clarifies things for you, if not please don't hesitate to get back in touch.