Create Digital Music
In addition to a cleaner browser layout, SoundCloud is bringing more functionality to mobile, starting Thursday. Images courtesy SoundCloud.
For some months, a lot of us have been using an overhauled SoundCloud interface. Playback works better, and everything is bigger, clearer, and more usable. A lot has changed, but I think the simplest endorsement is this: I haven’t wanted to go back to the old version, ever.
Today, SoundCloud is launching that new UI for everyone. They’re also taking the opportunity to tout just how much usage they’re getting. SoundCloud’s founders have routinely told people they believe sound and music will be essential media for the Internet, making comparisons to video. Now, they have some numbers. There are 10 hours of uploads to SoundCloud every minute. The new version is increasing “engagement measures” (no specifics on that at the moment) by 30%. Most tellingly, SoundCloud claims reach of 180 million people monthly, or “8% of the entire Internet population.”
Impressive, but since you probably care more about how this impacts you than the Earth, here’s a quick summary of what’s new, and pictured in official SoundCloud screenshots. (Uh, sorry, I’ll take my own soon … how about I use that time to upload some more music/sound to SoundCloud instead?)
The centerpiece of the upgrade is this overhauled stream – a much more pleasant place to spend your time listening to music and sounds.
What’s new in a nutshell:
- Easier signup and landing pages for new users (or “onboarding,” though that sounds to me like a waterskiing injury or something that happens if you upset the Pirate Captain)
- Facebook integration, with sign-up, friend finding, suggestions based on other likes
- Explore page
- Related sounds and suggestions
- Overhauled, improved search – this was a big complaint about the previous version. It’s still not perfect, but it’s actually worth using now.
- Continuous Play
- Highlighted creators
- Improved Sets, now in single waveforms (a la mixes)
- Real-time notifications for creators
- A more complete experience on mobile, rolling out on Thursday: reposts, updated mobile search, and improved usability are coming this week to iOS and Android apps.
“Related Sounds” helps you discover sounds from around SoundCloud. In my testing, its results were mixed, but it’s a nice “needle-drop” way of finding new work.
Improved search is key; having been a major complaint regarding previous versions.
SoundCloud also touts a lot of what they’re bringing to Creators. An improved interface, Facebook connectivity, and sharing features, say the company, are intended to bring wider exposure to your work. And that’s essential if SoundCloud is to flourish: you care when you upload about whether you benefit from those uploads.
That, in turn, brings us to Sets. As you may have discovered, you can take existing SoundCloud sounds and turn them into integrated Sets. One thing I’m certain readers will bring up: yes, SoundCloud will sometimes flag mixes if you use copyrighted material, based on an automated algorithm. That algorithm appears not to be perfect; that is, it flags some content, but not all. The issue is this: some sites allow you to upload sets of music either because they’re running afoul of the law, or they’re paying license fees that allow them to stream legally.
Creators are now featured both in the interface and in editorial. Nice to see our friends at Disquiet in the press photos!
What’s interesting about Sets in SoundCloud is that, with some artist participation, it could allow greater interaction between mix creators and original creators – artists and labels. By having you add this content from SoundCloud, those creators get notifications on their music being played. That’s not the same as revenue, but since for many artists exposure is the major currency rather than royalties, it could be even more important. We’ll have to explore how this feature works – and see if people making mixes for online distribution embrace the idea.
More images of what’s new:
Lots of SoundCloud sounds are hosted as embeds and the like. The ‘Explore’ page promises a SoundCloud that acts as a starting point for finding music.
Music discovery is featured even on the new, cleaner landing page for new users.
Try it yourself. As from today, when you login (apparently even if you were in the beta), you’ll see a banner at top that reads: “You’re using an old version of SoundCloud. | Get the new SoundCloud” – click, and you’re in.