At the AES convention this year, I ran into a gentleman named Henrik Lenberg, who as it turns out, is the director of international business development for SoundCloud.com, a platform that's rapidly becoming the "YouTube of audio." Like YouTube for video or Flickr for photos, it's designed not as a website with its own culture and user experience, but as a neutral tool you can integrate into whatever culture and user experience you wish to project to your audience.
There's a social media element in that you have a profile, you can follow others, and they can follow you. You can allow downloads (or not) on a track-by-track basis, and certain account levels have a Dropbox feature so that others can upload tracks to you, even if they don't have SoundCloud accounts themselves.You can also link SoundCloud to your social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, so that your news feeds there automatically get updated when you upload new tracks or sets.
Not surprisingly, bands and musicians are using it to share tracks, network, and get their music heard. But unlike, say, BandCamp, there's no e-commerce element, nor does SoundCloud present itself as an alternative model to record labels for selling music directly to your fans. It's a tool for storing and sharing audio files, plain and simple.
So, I got the obvious idea, "Hey, let's make SoundCloud the way we deliver audio examples for all the music lessons, gear reviews, and anything else in the magazine for which we promise audio content." It's no secret that I've shared the dissatisfaction many readers have had with our own website's native ability to host multimedia content and give the reader a smooth experience finding and playing it. The beauty of SoundCloud is, no matter what CMS (content management system--a fancy piece of software that lets you manage and update your website without having to program in code) we use, it's portable. Oh, and by the way, if you've found the experience of clicking on audio example links one by one on this site frustrating, you should try uploading them.
With SoundCloud, one can simply link to a player hosted on their site, like this:
Or, because traffic to one's own site is coin of the realm on the web, we can embed the player right here, like this:
We'll be doing the above for all articles that have audio content. Another exceedingly cool thing is that you can enter comments right on the audio clip, by clicking in that little strip just below the waveform. Try it!
I'm currently in the process of getting all content since January 2011 onto our SoundCloud account, which you can find at soundcloud.com/keyboardmag. As we can create any number of "sets" (playlists), we're taking the simple tack of one set per article, and using the following naming convention to make things easy to search for: MM-YYYY Article Title. I encourage you to register for at least the free account level there, if only to be able to follow us and let us follow you. Also, we'll surely be using the Dropbox feature for any contests or giveaways that involve you submitting your music to us.
We're very excited to add SoundCloud to our set of tools for bringing you the best gear reviews and music lessons in the business, and we'd like to extend huge thanks to Henrik Lenberg and CEO Alex Ljung for setting up Keyboard, Guitar Player, Bass Player, and Electronic Musician with top-level Pro Plus accounts. In the short time I've been using SoundCloud, it's made my life as editor so much easier. We hope it makes yours similarly more enjoyable.