The era of low-cost, DIY song recording and publishing has been boon to indie musicians who lack the funds to book professional studio time. It’s a trend that’s here to stay thanks to inexpensive, readily available sound recording equipment and versatile software. Once the tracks are cut, the real challenge is getting people to listen to your unique musical stylings. The hottest cloud-based music sharing application at the moment is SoundCloud, an innovative service on the rise with an ever-expanding base of loyal customers.
Long story short, SoundCloud is a music-sharing and creation service that allows solo artists and bands to upload songs, share them with others and receive feedback from peers. SoundCloud is far more than a MySpace ripoff, thanks to its advanced networking features and versatile Player engine. Another major selling point of the service is its full-featured UI, which organizes interaction with other users via a slick Dashboard for a robust social sharing experience. It also supports tons of mobile apps and integration with a slew of third-party programs. In other words, it’s one of the best music sharing services on the web.
SoundCloud allows users to upload tracks, spoken word clips or just sounds to their account and share them with others. The base plan is “free as in beer” and provides 120 minutes worth of upload time, sharable links to audio snippets and SoundCloud’s nifty waveform widget. It also features a Spotlight Tab for highlighting a user’s favorite uploads. Paid plans offer numerous levels of service, from the Lite plan to the Pro Plus package. Each of the paid versions increases upload minutes and tacks on features incrementally as you go up in price. SoundCloud offers the expected mobile apps for both Android and iOS, which makes mobile sharing convenient and stress-free.
While the distribution of tunes is certainly one goal of SoundCloud, it’s most promising use is as a tool for improving the skills of musicians and bands. Nothing beats unbiased, constructive criticism when it comes to fine-tuning your sound. SoundCloud excels at facilitating sharing via Twitter, Facebook and a handful of other platforms. As both a sounding board and viral marketing tool, SoundCloud has some serious potential to become the “next big thing” when it comes to music promotion. By design, SoundCloud is set up to make sharing as frictionless as possible. For instance, users can set up Groups and swap songs via DropBox.
Supporting Apps & Services
One of the coolest things about SoundCloud is their incredibly open approach to sharing. Their freely-available API allows developers to craft apps and extensions for all manner of purposes. Many other services integrate SoundCloud as an add-on to enhance the functionality of their own platforms. For instance, it’s included as a bonus feature of PreSonus Studio One DAW. In addition, SoundCloud works with over 100 apps available from iTunes. Some of the more popular third-party apps include FiRe, BandPage and KORG iMS-20.
Even when used as a free service, SoundCloud is easily one of the best music and social sharing platforms online. It boasts a wealth of extensibility options, amazing networking tools, plenty of upload space and even more impressive premium features. The paid versions up the ante and are actually some of the few “freemium” services worth upgrading to for average users and audiophiles. SoundCloud has been a steadily improving work in progress since its debut in October of 2008. In that time, they’ve managed to attract 10 million users and garner a good deal of positive buzz to boot. If music is your passion and you want a social network for sharing your work with the world, SoundCloud is the place to be.