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  • Column: Put the stats aside: How to get the most out of SoundCloud

    What is SoundCloud, and why do I like it?
    SoundCloud has become one of the leading websites for hobby musicians in the last couple of years, as well as a platform for world famous names for sharing their music. In the author's opinion, it's like MySpace, except that it's better in every single way.


    My two favourite things about SoundCloud are:
    1. Comments along the songs' timeline. Adds a wonderful sense of interactivity and community being able to visually comment on specific parts is really nice. MySpace was about plays SoundCloud is about interaction.
    2. Discovering fantastic music. Let's say I'm following Owsey. In my dashboard, I see that he has commented very enthusiastically on a tune by Sorrow. I then see Sorrow favoriting tracks by Stumbleine. And so on.
    Plays, downloads, followers, comments

    One thing about SoundCloud, and most such sites, is that the statistics are quite prominent. Everyone's number of plays, downloads, comments and followers is publicly visible.

    These numbers and their ratios normally indicate popularity and/or quality. A favourable amount of favourites and downloads in relation to the amount of plays usually makes me listen, and does indeed often mean that the music is quite enjoyable. If someone has thousands of followers, it should mean something. More is better, right?

    How many followers do you really have?


    Unfortunately, there are always people who get caught up with numbers, or take advantage of the system. I've seen services which allow you to buy listeners, plays, followers and such. It might sound tempting to "level up" for a few quid, but I don't think it's the best idea.

    I've been doing some thinking about the meaning of the various SoundCloud stats, and concluded that the best value by far comes from genuine and helpful interaction with other community members.

    Plays

    So, your track has received 1000 plays! Congrats! Imagine playing that song for 1000 actual people it's kind of cool to think about it like that. However, do you have any info on the experience associated with those plays? Your track will receive a +1 playcount, regardless of the listener's reaction.

    Elevator music receives lots of plays. Stupidity-ridden radio commercials receive lots of plays. "Justin Bieber Baby" has the most plays on all of YouTube.

    Favourites

    I won't lie, it feels really nice when you log in, and see that someone has added one of your tracks to his favourites! It's quite the compliment. For me however, the excitement has gotten progressively lower recently favouriting is some times just annoying spammers at work.

    However, when it's from someone you're having genuine interactions with, or if it's from someone you respect, you're allowed to celebrate herbal tea, whatup! These favouritings can't be bought.

    People following you

    This was perhaps the statistic I got tired of first. "DJ XxX $up@b01 is now following you" yeah, along with 1999 others (SoundCloud's maximum limit, funnily enough) and many of them are indeed following him back. This is the guy who ventures beyond time and space, and manages to comment on 20 songs in 5 minutes.

    When his profile shows up in a sidebar, he will probably have a nice little number of 2000+ followers next to his name. Clicking his profile (fictional for the purposes of this article), one will quickly see that he's just popular because he followed 2000 people, not because his music is good.

    There's not much to do about all those followers. I stopped paying attention to them long ago. I know for sure that I don't have an fanbase of 300+ guys actively following my music and interacting with me. I'd guess around 20 of them are genuinely interested in my music, and that's okay. These few guys and girls provide me with wonderful feedback and interaction, and that's worth more than a thousand followers.

    Comments

    This is my favourite statistic. Someone taking his time to share his thoughts with me now that's meaningful interaction! A compliment can brighten the day, constructive critisism can help the advancement of my music, a new point of view can deepen understanding, a joke can make me laugh, etc.

    But then of course, nothing is sacred for the spammers. Some of them stick to their one-syllable vocabulary: "nice", "cool", etc. Others make the incredibly rude mistake of considering someone else's track as an acceptable place to promote their own music!
    For example, "Cool track bro! Please check out my new Gotye moombahcore remix and my Flo Rida+Nicki Minaj mashup and don't forget to like my Facebook page thx!" is the SoundCloud equivalent of going up to random people in the street and belching ferociously in their face.

    I'd rather have 10 genuine comments than 10 000 plays and spammy comments.

    How to get the most out of SoundCloud


    So, by going through some common violations of SoundCloud etiquette, you hopefully have a good idea on how to be a well-respected community member, and having a more enjoyable and meaningful SoundCloud experience.

    Below is a suggestion for 5 simple SoundCloud rules:
    1. Be active in the community! Leave honest, helpful and imaginative comments when you find something you like. Discover fantastic music and connect with like-minded people!
    2. Focus on meaningful interaction and good music. Ignore the numbers.
    3. If someone is asking for critisism, do it constructively. Make sure that what you -do- like comes through, as well as your thoughts on which changes might work. Inaiya and autumna are shining examples of how commenting should be done.
    4. Respond to people's comments on your tracks. They took their time to write to you, so showing some gratitude is in its place. It's like saying "thank you" when someone says something nice in real life.
    5. When confronted with spammers or assholes, respond politely, or delete the comment. Their profiles have a "Mute x" option under their "follow" button use it and move on to people who are worth your time.
    What are you favourite SoundCloud moments? Which rules of etiquette would you add to the list?


    ______
    Kristian
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Alpha-Dog's Avatar
      Alpha-Dog -
      definitely answering back the people's comment on your tracks is of great importance! thanks for your articles dude, I really enjoy them!
    1. Kristian's Avatar
      Kristian -
      Thanks, Alpha-Dog!

      Yeah, it is indeed. I always get very happy when someone replies to a comment I've left on their track, so I do the same myself. Also, I think it's important to write full sentences and share my experience from listening to the track. Such comments are much more fun, both to give and receive.

      I'm very glad to hear that you're enjoying the articles! I really enjoy writing them, and I'm already excited about publishing the next one. So far, it seems that the 2nd each month has become the publishing date here on TF. On my website, I post new articles twice a week, for those who are interested.
    1. Voci's Avatar
      Voci -
      In my opinion it is time for Soundcloud to step up and remove unwanted behavior and users.

      The amount of "cool track" spam (you can see the history of comments of users) is reaching epic proportions. It's very demotivating to see the user that gave you a comment gave the exact same comment to 50 other tracks in the same minute.
      I've reported quite some spamming profiles and the Soundcloud staff said they would 'take action', but I doubt anything happens.

      As long as popularity is a 'key element' in deciding 'what music is good', this behavior will happen. Hopefully fellow musicians, as well as music labels and regular listeners, will realize that popularity, and thus the amount of 'clicks/plays' and followers, is NOT important at all. SPECIALLY now that we are in a time where those stats get manipulated (a lot).

      It's time to start focussing on music for the love of music, which is good for the music itself, but also good for websites like Soundcloud. Because the longer they do nothing, the more it is becoming a spam-platform, and not a "cool-platform-for-amateur-musicians" what it used to be.
    1. Alpha-Dog's Avatar
      Alpha-Dog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kristian View Post
      Thanks, Alpha-Dog!

      Yeah, it is indeed. I always get very happy when someone replies to a comment I've left on their track, so I do the same myself. Also, I think it's important to write full sentences and share my experience from listening to the track. Such comments are much more fun, both to give and receive.

      I'm very glad to hear that you're enjoying the articles! I really enjoy writing them, and I'm already excited about publishing the next one. So far, it seems that the 2nd each month has become the publishing date here on TF. On my website, I post new articles twice a week, for those who are interested.
      Indeed!

      cool what's your website?
    1. Kristian's Avatar
      Kristian -
      @Voci:

      Yeah, I've also missed a stricter user reporting feature. I've muted several users, but they're still up and running.

      Also, I just discovered that it's possible to mark comments as spam, but you have to enter the song's page to do it; you can't do it from the timeline: http://help.soundcloud.com/customer/...spam-behavior-

      I also just found these great tips from Oliver Sadie: http://soundcloud.com/101/community-building

      I've tried the SoundCloud beta, and some of their features like re-posting tracks and being able to create playlists from other people's track worry me a bit. I hope they seriously consider spam problems, and how to maintain the great community features.

      @Alpha-Dog:

      Ah, my signature isn't visible from main page comments, only in forums. It's http://kristiansmusicproductionblog.com/
    1. Academia's Avatar
      Academia -
      Hey to Kristian and everyone on the board,I am relatively new to SoundCloud having bought an account in late March and hosting a weekly, 2-hour trance show named Trance Odyssey. So far, I think it's great that I have chance to share my love for trance with other people and get feedback on what I can do to improve my show and myself as an aspiring trance DJ and producer. Seeing that I so new to the game, SoundCloud and musically, I like that it does give me an overview of listener statistics and so forth. I like the facts you can get about your uploads; what countries listen to your work, what Internet portals/sites get you the most listeners, and much more. Although, one thing though that does frustrate me just a bit, as this only really has occurred for my last two uploads (last two episodes) is that the transcoding process can take a while to initiate and sometimes just freeze, and I am left to upload the audio file once more and go through that entire process. But still, the way you can customize your track info, imagery, and availability options is nice and I only hope to get more listeners onto my trance show and help me advance into the world of trance. Academia
    1. Kristian's Avatar
      Kristian -
      This e-mail somehow bypassed my spam filter, and made me a sad panda: