October 10th, 2008 – In a few hours, SoundCloud will officially launch. There are lots of sites that allow you to post your music (MySpace and IndabaMusic come to mind), but SoundCloud is a different animal. What really makes them unique is their distribution system.
From what I gather from the intro video and walkthrough, you can interact with people inside the SoundCloud community, and out. It’s the interaction within the community that caught my attention though. This is the first music site of this kind I’ve seen that has gotten the interaction between its members right. Like Facebook, when you have new material, your contacts will be notified, and also like Facebook, you’re able to control what people are exposed to of your material.
Sites like Indaba Music and SoundCloud are notable because they provide a place for content providers to interact with each other. This is unlike YouTube where everyone can upload any content whether they created it or not. One particular feature I saw in SoundCloud that was unique was the ability to comment on specific times in a song. You could, for example, give a critique on a certain chord that is used once in the verse and suggest some alternatives. The songwriter would know exactly what part of the song you were referring to.
When I joined Facebook, I bemoaned being goaded into joining yet another social media site. The “news” feature was a major surprise for me though, and I now use the website several times a day. It is this feature in SoundCloud that interests me the most. When I create something new, my contacts are alerted to it and can listen if they want, and vice versa.
The free account allows you to upload 5 new songs per month. If you want to upload more than that (being the prolific songwriter you are), or want more than 20 SoundCloud contacts, you will need to upgrade your account. Right now, the first upgraded level is about 9 UK pounds which is pretty pricey. In my opinion, the way that a site like SoundCloud will succeed is if it has the ability to ramp up users at an explosive rate; there’s no success in social media unless everyone is using your site. Unfortunately, many amateurs (the demographic that should be relied on for maximum growth) don’t have a lot of money to spend on a hobby.
The vast majority of people are going to sign up for SoundCloud because they want to share music with their friends and make new friends. They probably won’t upload more than 5 new songs a month (after the first month anyway), but they will want more than 20 contacts. I believe it will be a tough sell to charge the equivalent of 18 dollars per month just to have a well-rounded contact list. I figure the value is there if management and record companies will use the site to scout talent, but sites like SonicBids and even MySpace are on the decline for such use. The new hot place to get signed is YouTube, because videos show how you play live, or at least perform. SoundCloud will need to find a way to compete in this new arena if it is to justify its cost.
When it launches, I’ll sign up for an account and post up my experiences.