The evolution of streaming music platforms has been a curiosity of mine for the past several months. As a user of both Spotify and SoundCloud, I find myself not only attracted to their service, streaming audio content, but also the dynamic communities formed by their active users. The prevalence of the social web, combined with the music’s unique ability to bring people together, creates a compelling niche—one where like-minded individuals can share, relate and discuss the content consumed. In this blog I’d like to investigate two of today’s most popular music platforms and how they could be used as an advantageous tool for supporting an online community.
SoundCloud is social media platform built around the consumption of user-generated audio. Initially, it was the go-to platform for underground producers and musicians to share their work. Today, major studios and recording artist (like Zedd and Damian Marley), popular brands (such as Red Bull) and well known news authorities (like NPR) are all using SoundCloud as a publishing platform to share exclusive audio content. Upon registering, all users have the ability to record and publish up to 120 minutes of audio content. Those who decide to pay for a SoundCloud “Pro” or “Premier” account gain access to extra features, such as more hosting space and deeper engagement analytics. Just last week, SoundCloud announced it would be introducing ads to its U.S. users for Premier users who publish frequently to large audiences. According to The Guardian, SoundCloud is the second biggest streaming music service in the world behind YouTube.
- Launched: 2008
- Active Users: Well over 250 million (October 2013)
- 175 million monthly listeners
- 12 hours of audio uploaded every minute
- Immensely popular with music discovery, outreach
- “Timed Comments” allow any user to comment on a specific timestamp within the audio content, inviting discussion and advocacy
- Soundcloud’s API makes it easy to share and consume audio through its mobile app and embedded widgets
Spotify is not a publishing platform; but rather a streaming music service heavily integrated with social sharing. Spotify is the most successful music service for paying subscribers (all 10 million of them) thanks to royalty agreements with the music industries top record labels. Spotify relies on the “freemium” model: Non-paying users are denied access to mobile downloads and must suffer advertisments. Paying subscribers get an ad-free listening experience with offline mobile access. Users can follow popular artist, subscribe to public playlists, and tune into a real-time feed of what their followers are listening to.
- Launched: 2008
- 40 millionactive users, 10 million paying subscribers
- Over 20,000 songs added per day
- Over 1.5 billion playlists
- Strong social integration, promoting user transparency
- Spotify App Finder includes apps intended to further personalize and content and experience (Billboard Top Charts, TuneWiki, Reddit Tunes)
What Platform Is Right for Me?
Use Soundcloud to record and publish audio content on your own, but be wary of your content’s quality. Start a podcast channel or custom track list and share it on your other social channels to develop a listenership. All publishing channels require a strategy.
Use Spotify to leverage the abundance of music in its library. By creating and sharing personalized playlists, you can attract a niche following that can be considered fans (i.e supports, followers) of the playlist publisher.
Recommendation: Record Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud for Listening Offline
- Record streaming audio from any web site, including Spotify, SoundCloud and Pandora
- Record audio from your computer’s sound card/microphone
- Schedule to record even while you’re not at your PC
- Audio converter to convert recordings between supported audio formats
- Automatically identify ID3 tags, such as title, artist, and album
- Rip CD with full CDBD information preserved