Space in the web is being filled by clouds.
In an age of tweeting and statuses, SoundCloud is looking more and more likely to win the online battle for your ears.
SoundCloud was created in 2007 after sound engineer Alex Ljung and artist Eric Wahlforss became frustrated by the lack of an adequate platform to share their music online.
It looked for a while that MySpace would be the answer to the question of sharing music online, and for a while it was – but over-cluttered profile pages, an inflexible music player and the arrival of Facebook saw MySpace’s numbers tumble dramatically, and with it, its influence in shaping online music sharing.
Unlike MySpace, SoundCloud allows music to be embedded anywhere, with no file-size limit, lets fans comment on specific parts of a recording, and allow bands to share songs publicly or only with certain contacts — the sort of flexibility we’ve become accustomed to on sharing and social network sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Co-founder Alex Ljung has commented in the past that, “We both came from backgrounds connected to music, and it was just really, really annoying for us to collaborate with people on music — I mean simple collaboration, just sending tracks to other people in a private setting, getting some feedback from them, and having a conversation about that piece of music. In the same way that we’d be using Flickr for our photos, and Vimeo for our videos, we didn’t have that kind of platform for our music.”
Artists and labels are finding SoundCloud attractive because it lets them upload music and share it in minutes with a distinct URL. This makes it a much better fit for the fast-paced world of Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms than an old-school MySpace page. The combination of SoundCloud and Twitter allows bands to form a more direct connection with fans than they can achieve by ‘friending’ them on MySpace. Not only is it good for uploading your own productions, but also for listening to your favourite artists and discovering up-and-coming bands and singers. As we move into a new digital age, it’s becoming more and more accessible for aspiring musicians to get their music out to larger audiences.
The SoundCloud site is clean and simplistic, with an orange and white layout which makes it visually appealing for first time users, allowing further emphasis on the high-quality sound content rather than content-heavy aesthetics. The SoundCloud player itself is unique and effective: it utilises something called a ‘waveform’, where users and bands can see the shape of the sounds as the track progresses through the player. Along with the timed comments, where friends and fans can leave valuable feedback and start conversations through pinpointing an exact moment in a recording, SoundCloud offers as much social interaction as any other networking site whilst predominantly being focused on the music.
If you are an artist using SoundCloud, you will soon discover how easy and efficient it is to use. Using the built in ‘dropbox’ saves you a lot of time when uploading files to emails and avoids clogging up inboxes. A really cool SoundCloud feature is the ‘mini update’ on your page that is only visible to you. It shows you at a glance how many profile views, plays, downloads and comments you’ve had over that week and in total. You also have ‘stats’ that enable you to keep track of who has played your sounds, how many times they have played it, and where they are located in the world. These features, however, are only available with premium accounts. There are five different accounts available on SoundCloud, starting with a free ‘basic’ account, stepping up to a ‘lite’ account costing £29 and ranging right up to a ‘pro plus’ which costs £59 a month.
As a SoundCloud user myself, I would recommend that you only upload a one minute preview clip of a track that you intend to sell after signing it to a label with the download tab hidden. SoundCloud is a great way to push your music to the public with its download feature located in the task bar of the waveform itself, enabling anyone that likes your music/sounds to download your free giveaway or demos with ease. You can add a ‘click to buy’ tab that will appear in the track taskbar, linking the track to a website hosting your track for sale; whether that be iTunes, Juno or your own webpage.
Speaking from experience, try to leave comments on the artists music, as the feedback received is invaluable, plus they would also be more inclined to take time out to listen to your music (if you’re a producer) and return the favour.
So it’s true, every cloud has a silver lining, eh?
Feel free to head over to my SoundCloud page if you get the chance, and have a listen to my productions. I make Future Garage.