SoundCloud is a website that lets artists upload and share their music with others. Like most services of its kind, it also has an accompanying app.
The SoundCloud app is, in some ways, quite similar to Spotify. You can follow artists, or add songs you like to playlists.
It doesn’t, however, have the range of Spotify – artists aren’t using SoundCloud to release albums, they’re putting just one or two songs up to promote an upcoming album, or share some unreleased demos, or occasionally stream a full album before making it available from other sources.
If you want this to be your online music source you’ll be disappointed, because that’s not what SoundCloud is trying to be.
The thing about SoundCloud is that while you won’t find things you recognise from the radio, you will find things that you simply wouldn’t have found anywhere else. Bands that have yet to hit it big enough for Spotify or iTunes to take notice, or have chosen to make challenging (and therefore unmarketable) artistic choices can still find a home, and an audience here.
SoundCloud heavily pushes that community aspect, letting you not just follow artists and users, but share what you’re listening to on other social media (you can sign in via your Facebook account if you want, and it makes sharing via Twitter or Tumblr very quick and easy).
The SoundCloud app is pretty similar to the browser version, but there are a couple of differences. Firstly, the app runs much faster, with hardly any load time between songs or pages (this does, of course, depend on the quality of your connection).
The second difference is less favourable towards the app: SoundCloud’s website gives you the option to search music by tags which is lacking from the mobile version. This is not a deal-breaking oversight, but it makes searching for what you want that much harder.
Searching in general isn’t as developed as it could be, and you can’t search by genre except in the most basic of senses – type in ‘surf rock’ and you get playlists other people have made, or artists with the words ‘surf rock’ in their name. But you can’t just search for a genre more specific than, say, ‘alternative rock’ (which we all know is a pretty meaningless phrase.
A pretty neat function of the app is that you can record tracks straight to SoundCloud from your device. If you’re a band that wants to put up a quick demo of a new song or something this is a handy way to do it, although for anything more complicated than spoken word you might want to use a program with some more editing functions before putting stuff straight up online. Still, nice that the option’s there.
If you want to listen to a specific album or artist, you’ll probably have better results with Spotify or something. But if you want to see what else is out there, if you want to explore and maybe find some unreleased gems, then SoundCloud can be worth putting in the time.