For the past year or so, discussion of online music has been dominated by the streaming sites Spotify and We7. In recent weeks, there’s been much chatter about Ping – Apple’s social addition to iTunes – and speculation about the supposed ‘game changer’ that is Google’s forthcoming music store.
But there’s another service that’s had a significant effect on the way we consume music, and now has well over a million subscribers. You’ll have noticed it, spreading across the web, its trademark ‘soundwave’ widget colonizing music blogs such as our own Daily Download.
It’s called SoundCloud and quietly, without hype, it has become the web’s favourite way of sharing music.
Why has Soundcloud been so successful when so may other embeddable music players, such as Imeem and Lala, have withered away (though we may not have seen the end of Lala, as this piece points out)?
Part of the reason is that it’s so eminently tearable. Myspace’s critical failure is that its music player is static. There’s no widget: you can’t take it with you elsewhere on the web.
SoundCloud, by contrast, just cries out to be embedded on your blog. It looks cool, and the sound quality is sharp. For that reason, it’s increasingly taking over from Myspace as the way for bands to publish their music.
It’s not a store like iTunes (though they did recently unveil a download/purchase function), more or a tool for sharing tracks. Their slogan is “we move music”.
And certainly, for music journos, setting up a SoundCloud dropbox is a far better way of receiving tracks from PRs than clumsy file transfers, or the dreaded PlayMPE.
There’s a social element too, since you can follow friends and see what they’ve been listening to. Check out our profile at Soundcloud.com/nmemagazine.
This has come off sounding a little like a press release. It’s not meant to. They’re not paying me or anything. I just thought it was time to shine some light on a music service that has picked up an enormous number of users, without attracting much – yet – in the way of media hype.