It seems that both creators and consumers of urban music are always late adopters to the best that technology has to offer. If you visit majority of urban blogs, they’re probably still sharing links using the likes of hulkshare, sharebeast, zippyshare, or some other ad-ridden, pop-up infested, unreliable file sharing platform. I’m here to convince you all that it’s time to move to a platform that solves just about all the problems of song sharing and promotion and gives some added benefit “at the same damn time”. Introducing…. SoundCloud.
Below are my top 10 reasons for being an advocate of SoundCloud.
- It’s free – Both artists and their fans can create a free SoundCloud account. Though majority of SoundCloud links can be accessed without a user account, there are several benefits to being a registered user. I’ll outline some of them in successive points.
- It’s ad-free – There’s nothing more annoying than going to a site like sharebeast or limelinx and being bombarded with flash ads, some of which have annoying audio that is never trivial to turn off. SoundCloud does not need ads to generate revenue because they have paying customers; I actually pay for my SoundCloud account.
- Sharing music is easy – SoundCloud took the guesswork out of sharing music with fans irrespective of platform. With just a click, you can share a SoundCloud link on various social media platforms such as facebook, twitter, tumblr and foursquare. You can also customize a widget and share your SoundCloud link on your website or blog.
- SoundCloud is mobile-ready – It’s no secret that many users stream music from their mobile devices. Some of the more popular file sharing platforms don’t play nice with mobile users just yet and there’s no guarantee that they ever will. I’ll admit that they’re making strides in the ride direction, but none of them are as robust and user friendly. SoundCloud links are playable on just about any mobile device. SoundCloud also has native iPhone and Android apps that make it easy to listen to tracks and even favorite them for offline listening (essentially saving the files to your mobile device).
- It allows you to build a following/fanbase organically - While some folks may consider SoundCloud to be a social network because of some of the functions it has, I’d much rather call it a community of folks that enjoy sharing music among each other. Fans can “follow” artists and automatically be notified when new music is available. They can also send a message to the artist, leave a comment on a specific song or at a specific moment within a song. The level of interactivity – likes, comments, shares and downloads – is a good gauge of just how liked a song is. Fans can share songs with other fans within or outside of the SoundCloud community. This communal effort gives your music a better chance of thriving in today’s “noisy” music marketplace. From personal experience, I can attest to the fact that there’s a direct correlation between the level of engagement between fans and artists on SoundCloud and the rate at which your following on SoundCloud grows.
- Control, control, control – So you’ve used the likes of limelinx, hulkshare, etc to share your music. You amass thousands of downloads, but do you know who downloaded your song? Can you reach them? If your strategy is “share song link on twitter and hope that I get feedback from the people who click on the link”, consider that SoundCloud is the best way to cut out the middle man. If part of your strategy was attaching your song in an email and blasting it out to various blogs and hoping they’ll post it using whatever song-sharing medium they see fit, you can instead share the SoundCloud link, which allows you to better keep track of all the listens your song garners over time. Users can listen and provide feedback “at the same damn time” on “the same damn platform”. I’ll take it a step further and say that you have the ability to control what users can do. Is your song commercially available? No problem. Limit users to just streaming the song. You have the ability to allow or prevent a user from downloading your song. Of course, there are browser hacks out there that can bypass this and allow users to download the streamed version, but if u know anything about song bitrate, a 128k version of your song isn’t quality that you should be worried about a fan getting their hands on.
- Customizable Call to Action - On the topic of control, it’s important to note that you can customize what you want the download link to do. A “call to action” is simply what you want the user to do after listening to your song. Most will simply download your song, if they can, and add to their personal library. It’s important to recognize that you can customize this process to leverage other strategies that can contribute to growing your fanbase. Some artists have opted to funnel users to their facebook fan pages, offering the download link in exchange for a like. You may also choose to provide a link to a digital retail outlet so your fans can enjoy the streamed version of your song and buy it if they so desire. Additionally, if you have a music video for your song, you can embed the video with a song.
- Analytics – With the help of analytics, you can determine not just how many people are listening to your tracks over a particular timeframe, but you can also find out the geographical distribution of your fanbase. Analytical data is very important as it can help you refine your marketing and promotion strategy to target specific geographical territories. You may also determine from analytical data that you’re more popular than you think and you’re actually in a position that allows you to start booking shows in cities where you’ve made a measurable impact. Can limelinx confirm that you’re the “man in your city” as many often claim to be? I’m not so sure, but SoundCloud definitely can.
- Customizable Branding & Metadata - Got artwork for your single? No problem. Include that in your upload. Want folks to know who produced the track? No problem. You can do that too! Fact is, you can provide more information than just the uploaded file and the name you’ve given it.
- Restricted/Targeted sharing of tracks – Ever had that single that you wanted to test with a subset of your fanbase that you trust to provide a valid opinion? Forget about collecting their emails and hoping they get around to reading and responding. You can share a private track directly with fans that have a SoundCloud account.
Til next time, follow me on twitter: @djbrucki.