SoundCloud Music Sharing Site Brings Music And Social Together
December 4, 2012

SoundCloud Music Sharing Site Brings Music And Social Together

Peter Suciu for — Your Universe Online

When MTV made its debut on August 1, 1981 the first music video played was quite fittingly The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Fast forward 31 years and sound could get the upper hand online as a musician-centric music sharing site looks to strike a chord.

SoundCloud, which has been in operation for nearly five years, launched a redesign on Tuesday that will allow users to discover new audio and moreover spotlight what is going on with an “activity” stream that links to social networks. The site, which has allowed users to share songs and audio clips online, has been in a closed beta until this week, when it opened its online doors to everyone.

Company founder and Chief Executive Alexander Ljung officially unveiled the new SoundCloud at the LeWeb conference, and unveiled new features including a discovery section that is aimed at helping people find new material — an idea that certainly might resonate to those who wanted their MTV back in its early days when it actually played music videos.

This paradigm shift in SoundCloud´s functionality has resulted in users of the new site being 30 percent more active than those who had used the older version, which has now been phased out. Additionally the audio social networking site has been better linked to the rest of the online world, Ljung noted. So when someone signs up on the site, their experience will include things they already liked on social platforms such as Facebook.

But while SoundCloud could sound a lot like an updated version of Napster or other file sharing sites that assumption would be wrong. This cloud-based service actually began as a site for music and sound professionals to exchange music, but as it evolved musicians began previewing tracks for listeners while podcasters used the site as a way to expand their audience.

Thus it isn´t so much about sharing copyrighted material as a way to share music or other audio to gain an audience. In other words, that garage band might not have to play every dive bar in driving distance when it could upload its tracks and find a following in the cloud.

“It´s about making it very easy to discover new and original sounds,” SoundCloud co-founder and CEO Alexander Ljung told USA Today. “If you are a new user and just want to find something to listen to, we make that really easy.”

The latest design will further enhance the ability for users to navigate the site´s vast — and reportedly growing — library of content. This includes a new Explore page that provides a way for users to get “suggestions” while listeners can also opt to hear a continuous stream of the sounds that have been selected as a way to explore more of what is available.

These changes could help make that aforementioned garage band the “next big thing,” but it could also put SoundCloud, which was launched back in 2008, in the spotlight. Venture Beat had once described the site as “the Biggest music startup you have never heard of,” and with $50 million funding the site is poised to reach 180 million users via the web, mobile and partner widgets, and that´s monthly!

The Berlin-based company could get some help from the White House — not with a Solyndra-sized investment — but as the White House has been releasing speeches and other content from the President available via SoundCloud. This includes the weekly radio addresses as well as other audio.

The majority of SoundCloud´s content is from far less known sources, but artists such as Taylor Swift, Radiohead and Drive-By Truckers have channels on the service, as do the BBC and CBS News. SoundCloud could be the audio that everyone wants — just like how people once demanded that cable channel that used to play music videos.