The following is written by Andy Othling and originally appeared on his own site on September 3, 2013.
For a long time I couldn’t really figure out what to do with SoundCloud. It seemed like a really cool service and I loved the way the interface looked. But it wasn’t a place that I wanted people downloading my music… I’d rather have them do that on my Bandcamp page. And actually, I’d rather them listen to my music on my Bandcamp page as well simply because it’s easier to download there (and I get their email address).
But I could tell that SoundCloud was increasing in popularity. It’s become fairly ubiquitous as a way to embed music on review sites and other pages, and it’s a great way to share music via social media. So I knew there had to be some way to include SoundCloud within my promotional “framework”. I also sensed that SoundCloud had a built-in and growing community of people who just really like discovering new music/content via the service.
Late last year SoundCloud added a repost functionality to their service. It functions basically the same way a retweet does on Twitter. An artist posts a song to their followers, and they in turn can repost it to the people who follow them. To me this was a huge addition that really changed the focus of the site in a really great way. Instead of it being mainly a place where artists can host and share their songs, it became a great place for listeners to gather, share with each other, and discover new music.
This addition got me really excited. Instead of being a redundant listening platform,SoundCloud became yet another place where I could potentially attract new listeners, similar to how I use YouTube.
At first, I tried a few simple experiments where I just uploaded the audio from different YouTube videos I made. It was no additional work, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Below is the SoundCloud audio from this YouTube video.
Obviously I have far fewer SoundCloud followers than YouTube subscribers, since I’m relatively new to this. But the interesting thing was that in the days following this video (I posted the video and audio at the same time), the SoundCloud upload was getting far more listens than the YouTube video was getting views. Why was this? Well, I think it was largely due to the repost feature that I was talking about above. Even though I had fewer “subscribers” to start with on SoundCloud, the ease of sharing made it spread much farther and faster than the YouTube video did.
Now, eventually the YouTube video caught up. Currently it has almost double the views of the SoundCloud upload. This is likely due to the fact that YouTube is far more searchable than SoundCloud, and people are discovering it that way. It could also be because I’m gathering YouTube subscribers far faster than I’m gathering SoundCloud followers, so new subscribers are still checking that video out.
But still, the way the SoundCloud upload spread really impressed me.
Just this past weekend I did another experiment. I spent about four hours on Saturday throwing together a song mostly as a way to test out some new gear I have. I also wanted to see what happened when I uploaded something that was “SoundCloud exclusive” and not just the audio from a YouTube video.
At the time of writing, this song has only been uploaded for a few days (and a weekend no less), but it’s already surpassed the statistics of my other experiment. More reposts, more comments, and on it’s way to more listens. But more importantly it’s given me the ability to see the more general effects of using SoundCloud. Each time I post new content I see a few things happen:
- I get more followers. This means more and more people will hear about new music I release in the future.
- I get more interaction with old content. When people check out these new tracks I upload, they also seem to be checking out what else I have to offer. This means increased sharing of old songs, as well as more sales/downloads of those songs.
I am very happy with any service that facilitates those two things, and SoundCloud seems to be serving that purpose very well.
Ok, so what exactly should you be doing with SoundCloud? Let’s break it down a little bit.
- You should have your discography uploaded to SoundCloud. There’s really no downside to doing this, especially since you can use these uploads to point listeners to whatever store/service you’d like to have them use to actually download the music.
- You should tag your uploads appropriately. Tagging your uploads gives you the opportunity to be heard by new people who are searching for a specific style of music.
- You should consider uploading more content more often. It’s not like we can release new albums/EPs every week, so think about other types of uploads you can share on SoundCloud. Are you already creating content on other places that you can share here (like I did with YouTube)? Maybe you can share experiments/demos/that type of thing? This is one of SoundCloud’s strengths – it allows you to upload and share more than just your official releases without cluttering up the places where you actually sell your music. These things will help attract more people to your music.
- You should point everything to your main service. In my opinion, SoundCloud is not a great place to offer downloads. So you should make it very clear where you want people to go in order to do that. Use the description, and fill out the “Buy” link that’s associated with each upload.
Doing all of these things have the potential to attract more attention to your music, especially if you can be consistent with providing regular uploads over a sustained period of time.
SoundCloud is already a very popular service, and I think it’s poised to become more and more popular in the future. That’s why it’s time to jump in if you haven’t already!
Do you have a SoundCloud account? Share it with us in the comments and let us know how you use it!