Ever since Youtube was launched in 2005, it has become increasingly popular to share any form of media via the web. The days of taking a tape or DVD over to your friend’s house are over; instead, we’ll email a link or post it on Facebook. While Youtube and Vimeo dominate the video sharing category, another site, SoundCloud, pioneered a unique niche: audio sharing.
Described as the “world’s leading social sound platform,” SoundCloud is an excellent example of a product built on the needs and preference of the consumer. Most of us are already sharing songs and audio online, but usually we’re awkwardly sharing it with YouTube videos. SoundCloud provides another option, letting you directly share audio with your social networks.
If you want to get the most out of SoundCloud, you’ll probably want to sign up for an account. Thankfully, this process is very fast and consists of nothing more than entering your email address and coming up with a password, or logging in with Facebook. You can decide whether you want to subscribe to their newsletter or not, and then you’re all set! After your account is created, there’s a optional second step to give some information which will fill out your profile. If you want to, go ahead. If not, click “skip this step,” and you can fill it out later if you change your mind.
The player is the center piece of SoundCloud. Just like any good sharing service, the focus of SoundCloud is on content: in this case, audio. It’s important to specify that while the majority of content on SoundCloud is music, no single kind of sound is prioritized above others – music, podcasts, recorded speeches, even sound effects; it’s all there for you to discover and listen to.
That being said, the SoundCloud player is remarkably suited to work with just about any kind of audio. When you upload something to SoundCloud or record it directly in the app, the system automatically creates a waveform based on the audio itself. The waveform allows you to visualize the audio – in the remix below, for example, you can actually see the parts of the song where the music quiets down, and where it builds up. If you happen to be sharing spoken audio instead of music, the waveform might make it much easier to jump to the part of the audio you want.
In addition to the fascinating waveform, the player page also includes a nice album artwork thumbnail (if the author included one), and several social media buttons so you can easily share the audio on services such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. On the far right is a sidebar that holds standard information such as the number of plays, favorites, and comments, and lets you discover more audio by the user who uploaded this track.
The Comment System
Speaking of comments, SoundCloud has a very unique comment system. Instead of comments being organized by when they were posted, they’re listed by where they were posted – you can post a comment that’ll be attached to a specific part of the audio track you’re listening to.
This is a brilliant idea that really shines because of how flexible and useful it is. Not only can you give feedback or discuss the entire audio track, you can point out a exact part in the track you enjoyed or had a question about.
The Profile Page
If you find an artist or composer whose work you enjoy, you can click on their username to go to their profile. SoundCloud’s profile pages aren’t anything unusual as far as layout, but they are very clean. You’ll see all the basics here: a short bio of the user, a list of all tracks and sets the user uploaded, and the ability to send a message or share a track with the user. But that’s it. There is no clutter and anything unnecessary is conveniently removed.
The App Gallery
The diversity of the apps in the gallery is astounding. The featured app in the screenshot allows you to select the waveform of any SoundCloud track, and get it sent to you as an iPhone case, which just might be the most unique app integration ever. There are DJ apps that allow you to take any tracks from SoundCloud and mix them as loops into your own song. There’s even an app that integrates SoundCloud into a merchandise store, so that an artist can sell their music alongside other band products.
SoundCloud is certainly the leader of the audio sharing sites, but it goes further than that. It is what other competitors will be compared to and judged against. If the developers of this site continue to improve it and come up with creative solutions as they have so far, I see SoundCloud remaining as the sound sharing site to go to for the years to come. Rather than making a video with your new song, why not try uploading it to SoundCloud and sharing your music the way it was mean to be shared the next time you record a new one?
A unique social audio sharing site10