A co-worker introduced me to SoundCloud five years ago because it smoothly played audio despite buggy Internet, and it was easier to enjoy music while working without risking letting the boss see blown up images of an album cover or music video playing on YouTube on my screen. Soundcloud was open, democratic and a hundred percent cool then, and still is. Anybody can upload any audio track or music for free, and global audiences can enjoy it, add it to their playlist, or download it onto their computers easily.
SoundCloud does not use fancy bells and whistles to attract users, it believes that the discerning ear will invariably log on to discover audio worth appreciating. The user interface and design is lean, with a small cover image leading to audio-wave like horizontal tracks laid out in a creative, complicated-looking but actually very simple way. Every orange play button leads to a different track, and every track has a timeline where you can highlight a particular point and insert a comment at, to correspond to the exact second that you find particularly satisfying or pleasing to listen to. As a user, you can point your cursor at other users’ thumbnail images and read their comments chronologically, as the track progresses, as if you are all experiencing every musical or intellectual moment of the track together.
Unlike sales-focused big-ticket music release channelssuch as VEVO, SoundCloud makes it super easy for bands and independent artists to drop studio experiments, demo tracksand mixtapes for their followers to enjoy and give feedback. The casual vibe that the platform emits really contributes to a liberating and stress-free creative environment for musicians of all kinds to share their work. No matter where they are in terms of their career, find an audience they will – and that is a solid motivation for artists who struggle to justify why they’re keeping at it.
Downloading tracks or creating personal playlists makes collecting music instant and fun for passionate curators using SoundCloud to put together a party mix or, on a deeper level, expand their horizons. Audio geeks and bloggers will thank their stars when they come across the unfussy and user-friendly way that SoundCloud tracks can be embedded into external websites.
Even when it comes to automatic curation, it looks like minimalism runs deep in SoundCloud’s system. Tracks are indiscriminately placed under the sections ‘Chill’, ‘Party’, ‘Relax’, ‘Study’, ‘Workout’ and ‘Sleep on the app feed. Once you start actively using the app, real-time personalisation and recommendations get integrated into your feed, with sections like ‘More of what you like’ and ‘Artists you should follow’ to help you discover more, new musicwithout wasting time on other music-related sites.
Indie Nepali artists Jerusha Rai, Bartika Eam Rai and Diwas Gurung have been naturally gathering followers on Soundcloud. Meanwhile, the funny, feminist podcast BojuBajai is probably the only Nepali podcast that has found a decent audience on the app, and for good reason. SoundCloud, truly a platform of creative opportunities, proves to be the music streaming app for the artist and the audience, both treated as one and the same.
Download SoundCloud for Apple here
Download SoundCloud for Android here
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