David Adams at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, for the 2012 Olympic Games soccer tournament.
When SoundCloud was first founded in 2007, sound designer Alexander Ljung and musician Eric Wahlforss aimed to create a tool that key players in the music industry could use to share tracks. But within a few months, it was giving MySpace a run for its money as the premier online social audio platform.
Based in Berlin, London, and San Francisco, the company’s 100-plus employees uphold SoundCloud’s mission to “unmute the web.” By allowing its 15 million registered users to create, record, promote, and share their sounds easily, SoundCloud connects producers, artists, and fans in unprecedented ways.
London-based Music Relations Content Manager (and musician) David Adams knows the ins and outs of SoundCloud as a tool for producers and artists. Here, he relays some creative tips to unleash the potential of the platform.
How can SoundCloud help musicians and producers increase exposure and opportunities in ways that other sites can’t?
SoundCloud allows sound creators to instantly record or upload original audio content; embed sound across blogs and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest; share publicly and privately; receive detailed analytics; and get feedback from the community directly onto the waveform.
An artist’s voice is a powerful tool: Beyond the realm of beats and lyrics, musicians can interact with fans using audio announcements, tour diaries, or recorded messages. To discover other ways artists can use their voice, this SoundCloud 101 gives some great tips [soundcloud.com/101/artists-voice].
Another way musicians can increase engagement with fans is through timed comments. It’s not just a place for fans to leave comments but for artists to interact directly—they can reply to fans, leave in-depth commentary around their music, and share a link within the waveform for more context. Our community building 101 has some great tips on the subject [soundcloud.com/101/community-building].
Producers can create music on DAWs such as Pro Tools and then post straight to SoundCloud. What are some other partnerships musicians will find helpful?
SoundCloud has an open API that has allowed for numerous integrations to help artists throughout the lifetime of their music—from the first stage of exporting tracks directly to SoundCloud to other integrations that help with distribution, marketing, and analytics.
With SoundCloud baked into Pro Tools 10, audio producers from all fields can share their sounds privately with collaborators for feedback or share polished works with the world. Furthermore, once a musician has his music on the web, Flavors can help build out a website featuring their sounds at a low cost. Integrations with services such as TuneCore and CD Baby give access to distribution channels. And integrations with Webdoc and Thinglink allow musicians, and their fans, to share sounds in expressive ways.
There are more third-party tools appearing all the time, such as Email Unlock, which allows musicians a free service to collect emails with a shareable HTML5 widget in return for a download, using SoundCloud to connect their sound to the service.
Is it risky for artists to share raw, unfinished tracks with fans well before the songs are mixed, mastered, or even fully constructed and polished?
Sharing a regular stream of ideas shows another element of how artists can provide fans further access. For instance, Deadmau5’s f*ckmylife profile [soundcloud.com/fuckmylife] shows an artist giving fans further insight to his creation process. There are no limits to how an artist can interact and collaborate with a fan from here, such as Deadmau5 using a fan’s vocals as part of the track “The Veldt.”
Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent have also shared ideas and collaborated with fans. Case in point: 50 Cent tweeted out a link to a freestyle and then asked producers to finish the track. [soundcloud.com/50_cent/for-the-producers-ghetto].
Artists can also create simultaneously with fans. Madeon is a great example with his 24 Hour EP project. He asked other music creators to create a three-track EP in 24 hours, which he shared through SoundCloud.
Fans use SoundCloud to listen to music for free. Does the service help artists monetize their music?
In addition to partnerships with CDBaby and TuneCore, SoundCloud offers customizable “buy” links where an artist can add a call-toaction URL to activate fans. Options for this type of link include our integrations with:
Ganxy: soundcloud.com/apps/ganxy (Sell through iTunes, Amazon, and direct to fans with Ganxy, all from a single SoundCloud Player)
Vibedeck:soundcloud.com/apps/vibedeck (Sell or share your tunes direct to your fans quickly, easily, and professionally)
The SoundCloud platform also offers key stats to artists so they can know who, when, and where their fans are listening to their sounds. The metrics show where fans are listening via location to help artists with tour routing and marketing/release plans. The stats also show where artists’ sounds have been embedded by blogs, giving them opportunities to follow up for further editorial coverage. Find out more about stats on SoundCloud with this 101 .
What’s a common mistake bands are making these days that they could avoid?
I don’t believe there is one common mistake artists make, as it’s always about learning and understanding what works for them as a creator and what connections best suit their fans. My parting advice to a band is to always be ambitious and curious when it comes to how they use SoundCloud. A great place to learn more about ways of utilizing SoundCloud is the 101 section of our site [soundcloud.com/101] or to find out more about companies that are integrated with SoundCloud in our app gallery [soundcloud.com/apps].
Kylee Swenson Gordon is a writer, editor, and musician based in Oakland, CA. In addition to making music with her indie-pop band Loquat, she’s a frequent collaborator with EDM producers.