making the case for soundcloud – no judgement please

  I know Soundcloud has a bit of a reputation as a site for edgy hipsters…but I actually am here to defend Soundcloud – I love this platform and it’s a great way to explore and experiment with music, in my opinion.

Soundcloud is important to young musicians – anyone can make it big, as long as you have talent. “Its stars are internet celebrities, fashioning themselves into outlandish characters in the anime that is modern hip-hop: the theatrical Florida tag team Smokepurpp and Lil Pump (who perform solo, and also together as Gucci Gang); the anguished heartthrob Lil Peep; the problematic outlaw XXXTentacion. The aesthetic is high-end streetwear meets high fashion, with face tattoos, hair dyed in wild colors and a prescription-drug ooze. The music is low-fidelity and insistent, throbbing with distorted bass, like trap music reduced over a hot fire to its rawest component parts.” (Chad Batka, The New York Times)

And it’s not just rap that’s become worth a listen on Soundcloud – I myself am a big fan of house music, lofi hip-hop (which is great background music for studying btw) and chillout, of which there’s an endless supply. Soundcloud is the place I go when I feel stuck and fed up of my current music collection – the feeling of finding a couple of great songs you haven’t heard before is the best thing in the world for me, and I love nothing more than sitting on a Sunday afternoon and perusing my homepage for new content.

As much as I love this platform, I feel like I have to talk about the downsides. The majority of music on Soundcloud is free – artists don’t get paid for their content, even if they have millions of listeners. The company has experimented was various ways of making money, with little success. Issues with the ‘repost’ feature meant Soundcloud has been filled with spam, “with reposts, it was now trivially easy for artists and promoters to artificially boost the number of streams a song had received.” (Dani Deahl & Casey Newton, The Verge)

Competition from Spotify, Apple music and Deezer isn’t particularly helping either. So okay, Soundcloud isn’t a perfect service. I agree that Soundcloud is kind of a mess business wise, and perhaps not the best deal for artists (although I’d view it as a means to an end, a place to get noticed rather than get paid). And Soundcloud trying to include a paid music library is just laughable because that’s not what they’re about…but I still think that the platform is gold for discovering non-label and non-mainstream tracks, and I really hope Soundcloud is here to stay.

If you feel like it you can check out my account where I repost tracks I love on a semi-regular basis.

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Written by Emily Stokes

Featured image courtesy of Trex Magazine

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