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SoundCloud – Audio Online, Your Way.

October 13th, 2009 | 6 Comments | Categories: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians |

So, Part II is about Soundcloud:

Soundcloud is SUCH a great compliment to BandCamp. While BandCamp is all about the curated artifact of music, Soundcloud is all about malleable audio – there’s no restriction on file-size, or resolution, so you can put MP3s up, podcasts, entire gigs as a single embeddable file…

It works great as a sketchbook, and again, you can control whether the stuff is streamable, downloadable or whatever else… There’s also a nice social side to SoundCloud, with the usual 2.0 follower/followee relationship, as well as the option to have ‘private’ files, for sharing music amongst collaborators before making it public. Very useful. It’s got a host of other fantastic features, which you can check out here, and to see it in action, here’s the EP that Michael Manring and I made available a few weeks ago, exclusively via SoundCloud:

Steve Lawson and Michael Manring live at Don Quixotes by solobasssteve

The pairing of Bandcamp and Soundcloud is a pretty much unbeatable combo for distributing audio files online. And Bandcamp gives you to option to charge for them as well.

What is as yet un-mapped is the actual relationship between how we value music, and how artists can price their work relating to that value. Donations, like the pay what you want option in Bandcamp, work really well – we the audience get the chance to be generous if we want, and people with no money can still get the music (and if they want to ‘pay’ something, can just share it around – after all, that’s ultimately what it’s all about!) but it still the case that you either pay before you listen (in which case the donation is a guess) OR the listener has to come back and make a donation after (which requires a level of commitment to the ideal that few of us are capable of…)

One of the projects I’m working on is a platform that seeks to work out that value and allow listeners to pay based on it, and I’ll write more about that very soon…

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Chris West

    I’ve just started using SoundCloud and I love it already. It’s got such a polished feel too it, it’s very slick. I’ll be using it as the main method of streaming my album when it’s out.

    I’ve seen some really creative sites embedding the SoundCloud player as well.

  • Steve Clark

    I used SoundCloud to share a few tracks that my band recorded. The free account is really a trial as you are very limited in what you can do. Only 5 uploads per month and only the 10 most recent visible to others. For now I don’t need it enough to even pay for their ‘Light’ account.

    So it good value for money for others? Other sites that host files for free seem to be limited in various ways. I like some of the SoundCloud features such as comments and being able to follow people. The waveform display is neat too. I did have issues with uploading multiple files.

    Any suggestions for other sites that would let me post things like rehearsal recordings to share with a few friends, preferably without them having to register.

  • David

    Steve-

    thanks so much for this great post and your comments. Happy to see SoundCloud has been of value to you.

    We’re releasing new exciting stuff in a couple weeks so make sure to keep an eye out on the newsletter/blog.
    @SteveClark: can’t tell more now but there might be some news interesting for your kind of usage.

    Thanks again!

  • Jennifer

    OR the listener has to come back and make a donation after (which requires a level of commitment to the ideal that few of us are capable of…)

    That was interesting to read, because that is exactly the model I’ve been planning for a while I’m going to use. I know it may well lead to a bit less money, but I really like the idea of people paying only when they’ve had a chance to get their own intuitive sense of what each song was worth, and then paying per song rather than just donating via a donate button. It makes the money into a kind of communication to me about “these are the songs I appreciate most”. And I don’t think it does really require loads of commitment; I think if you like one song, you’ll be back in a while to see what else is there, and while you’re getting the next lot you can pay for the last lot.

    well, that is the way I’m thinking at the moment, anyway.

  • steve

    Steve, I kinda like the fact that Soundcloud don’t have an all-singing all-dancing free version. There is a lot you can do with the free version, by moving files around, and using it to host the ones that matter. I like that cos it means you don’t end up with so many widowed files lying around that no-one’s listening to. Keeps things tidy. And if you have got loads, then you can pay for it, and not have to worry about your files being littered with advertising etc.

    The lack of a file size limit is such a useful tool. Embedding entire gigs as ‘a gig’ rather than a collection of tracks is a nice way to get people thinking about it as an integrated event. I’m glad they went with limiting the number of files as their free option rather than limiting the size of more files…

    So, given that you could have up to 10 entire concerts embedded for the listening pleasure of your audience. Or 5 concerts and 5 podcasts, or whatever, I think there’s enough there for anyone to get stuck into and get a lot of value from before they decide if the light account is worth having. (I do think the light account should be slightly cheaper, just from a ‘how the market seems to work online’ point of view, but they aren’t asking me 😉 )

    As for other sites – not sure. Your best bet might actually be a Dreamhost web-hosting account, then you could embed them in a blog, and even have password only access to them, and manage it all via wordpress…

  • steve

    Jennifer,

    I think it does work, it just requires a fairly high level of engagement from your audience. I’d guess that your audience would be the kind that would do that. And it also acknowledges that it’s better to have someone listening than not listening, especially when it’s not costing you anything for them to have it.

    Both Soundcloud and Bandcamp will work for that :)