SoundCloud

By mic on 9/6/2014

I am a bit behind the times. Until yesterday, I didn't even know SoundCloud.com existed. I do now, but only because I landed on a random tweet about it (thanks to Scottkerrmusic). I should have expected it. It was just a matter of time, before a site like SoundCloud pops up. This one has apparently been running for 6 years and already has over 10 million registered users, including some popular names in music.

At first, I didn't get it. I thought that SoundCloud would be a site for two things: 1) post tracks, allow others to criticize and rate them, and gauge how others perceive them; and 2) post tracks and potentially sell them. It looks like SoundCloud does (1), but not (2). Regarding selling, you can upload your music and provide a link to where it can be bought, but that is all I know. The company generates money not by getting involved in your sales, but by selling its Pro Plan and Unlimited Plan. These plans give you better statistics on how your tracks are played and rated as well as the space to upload more music. The free plan counts likes, plays, comments, and downloads and is limited to 180 mins of sound. The unlimited plan (for $135 a year) also allows you to see who is playing your tracks and where you are most popular and which apps and social networks are playing your music, for an unlimited amount of music.

SoundClound is a good idea. I enjoyed exploring and listened to a bunch of tracks. Much like in YouTube, I was going through a track after a track – some good, some not so good, some made for fun and some that sounded almost professional. I spent a lot of time in the Rock and Metal categories. A lot of the metal was thin, over reverberated, and with drums that were way too pronounced and busy, but those were not the site's problems. I checked the site sound formats. Music is stored as 128 kbps mp3, which produces good sound. So, it was the fault of the metal musicians / engineers. A lot of the rock frankly just sounded pop-ish. I am not actually sure how songs end up in a category. When I tried to upload, I could not find options to classify my upload as one genre or another.

A couple of interesting notes: You can make criticism private (visible to you only, as I understand it). You can make playlists. You can upload more than just songs. Some put audiobooks and speeches. What is most interesting is that you can record directly to SoundCloud, with the caveat that, if something goes wrong with processing the recording, you've lost the recording. I tried it. It seems to allow a single track only, but I did not play much. (Also, the company staff prides itself on being hackers. I guess they work hard and play hard.)

I am not sure how much I would actually upload. I am used to completing songs, mixing and mastering until I think they are as final as they will ever be, compiling them into an album, and then trying to sell them somehow. As a guitar player, I think that half of my guitar tracks still need work, but I often give up after a while and call them done. As a vocalist, I don't like most of my vocal tracks, but that is a common problem with vocalist. As an engineer, I want to experiment and experiment. I try everything. The one thing I have never tried though, is letting people I do not know criticize my songs before I try to sell them. I saw that SoundCloud had some interesting policies – there was even a note to promote constructive criticism. As I wrote this, our DSP book was criticized for too much calculus and not enough code. The book was not meant to be a coding book and had little calculus. Anyways, I think I can use this criticism, but I can imagine that the criticism of others is often not constructive. 10 years ago, I thought of sending a few songs to Recording magazine. I think that one that had the column where you could get your demos reviewed by a recording engineer (for the quality of recording, of course, not the lyrics or music). Now, you can do that for free with SoundCloud, even if some of the comments you get are not the comments of a professional.

authors: mic

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