Dark times indeed for SoundCloud. It seems to have a lot of negativity surrounding it, apparently pandering to the “big labels”, “destroying the smaller artists”, having a “business plan that is doomed to fail” (as a result of the new Subscription Service which is only currently available in USA at the time of writing the article). But are all of these negative comments (from my observations on Facebook forums and online articles) about SoundCloud warranted? I’ll give you my thoughts and experience about it here and why I don’t think some people should be so hostile.
Back in 2011 when I first joined SoundCloud, I didn’t really know what to expect from it. As far as I was concerned, it was a website where you could have a free profile and share your creations, which was ideal at the time. The limit of 2 hours upload time didn’t really bother me initially as I didn’t have that much content to share. I just thought it was really cool to be able to have that ability and get some sort of feedback from anyone who was interested in listening to my songs, leaving comments etc.
As it turned out, a record label based in California (run by a top notch lad called TigerPaw) started commenting on my tracks and got in touch, all through SoundCloud! In fact, I wouldn’t have been signed to Allowance Records if it wasn’t for the connection through SoundCloud! Anyway, within the first 6-12 months of being on this platform, my first impressions were VERY positive! I developed friendships which have lasted to the present day and I’ve had the chance to see some artists really go places on the music scene. Hugh Hardie for example, who is now a part of Hospital Records, was an artist I followed from the early days and I wouldn’t have found him if it wasn’t for SoundCloud.
When I was developing more content, I soon realised I would need to pay for the unlimited upload time which was a bit of a bummer but when it’s around £5 a month, it’s not exactly a lot! An area to develop a fan base, contact other artists, develop friendships, get feedback on your songs… come on, it’s a no brainer if you want to invest in your musical development!
The changes from Old SoundCloud to New
Ah yes… the change that started to annoy a lot of people (including me) happened around 2013 and then they removed the Old SoundCloud completely in May 2014. What I enjoyed about the Old SoundCloud was the ability to see a conversation thread on a song and actually read all of the comments (not just half a sentence and some dots). Also, being able to remove a song from your stream was a useful tool if you weren’t so keen on it. Having said that, with one click, you can just open the song up in a new window and read the comments if you want to nowadays (on the website viewed from the PC) and you can just move to the next song anyway.
However, now we have this re-post feature, which, although it’s great when someone loves your music so much that they re-post it to their page (you guys and girls are awesome if you do that), the flip side of it is that the Stream becomes swamped under with songs from people who you don’t follow. For artists like me, you know what I’m talking about as you can’t see your friends tracks any more and if you’re wondering why I don’t re-post, that’s not because I don’t like your music. I will leave a comment and a heart. If I REALLY like it, I will put it in my own version of re-posting, which is my podcast series (once a month). There is a way around it, where you can just keep scrolling down (if you listen to the music through the PC, not on mobile device) until you see a song from someone you follow.
For me though, those were the main bug-bears I had with this “new look” and I forgot about the issues pretty quickly as everything else was very much the same. Every time I posted something, I’d do the usual “write about the song, put the tags in and link to Facebook”. It was still, fundamentally, a great place to share your creations and get feedback and keep in contact with your SoundCloud buddies.
Subscription Service, the death of SoundCloud… really?
With the launch of SoundCloud Go (only around in the USA currently) announced recently, people/artists are announcing that it’s the final nail in the coffin of SoundCloud. Really? It still has 250 million active/regular users (from a quick search in here), the free version of SoundCloud is still readily accessible (they state that on the website) for you to post your tracks, have a place to store your songs (3 hours for the free account) and you can still engage with your listeners. You get something for nothing but that isn’t enough for some people.
I’m not a big artist by ANY stretch of the imagination so I know that I will not get anything from this “Streaming” service. However, it doesn’t bother me because I STILL (for now) have a place to share my music with the fan base I’ve built up over the last 5 years from NOTHING when I started on the FREE account. I would not have been able to do that without SoundCloud so I hope it does stay and I get to meet many more talented artists along the way.
Hearthis as an alternative?
Another music sharing platform for artists that seems to be getting a bit more “popular” is the Hearthis platform. I use the phrase “popular” loosely as those artists who are bemoaning SoundCloud so much seem to be main people that are currently using it. I did look into myself, set up a profile and there are a few perks it has to be said. Possibly the biggest one going for it now is the groups feature, which SoundCloud decided to get rid of recently after analysis from their data. Some listeners and DJ’s like groups to discover new artists but obviously they weren’t being used enough by the general population on SoundCloud.
Is Hearthis an alternative for artists? I wouldn’t recommend switching EVERYTHING over and using it as your sole platform due to the difference in number of users compared to SoundCloud but I will say that it won’t do any harm in setting up a profile.
If you are still moaning about getting something for nothing (on both Hearthis and SoundCloud) then consider getting your own website and investing time and effort in that, you can customise it to however you want it to look like then without interference from the “sellout SoundCloud” 🙂
My music producer friends, non-producer friends and fans, what do you think about this? Does it even bother you about SoundCloud Go? Have you tried Hearthis? What are your stories?
Let me know down in the comments below!
Take it easy now