SoundCloud has hosted numerous popular artists over the past decade. But how did the platform define an era of music? Ava Bubbosh explains it all below.
(Photo Courtesy of SoundCloud)
The rise of SoundCloud was steeped in explosive hits and artists’ larger-than-life personalities. The relatively new platform has recently become a haven for new music, with a growth in popularity and users. SoundCloud is similar to Spotify or Apple Music, streaming services that have free and premium options, curated playlists tailored to a specific genre and artists profiles. But what separates SoundCloud from its competitors is its ability to take previously unknown artists and propel them into media stardom with a single song. The website itself uses a bright orange color to highlight the level of sounds in the specific track depicted graphically as a waveform. The app allows users to post "timed comments" on specific parts of any track. Other features include the ability to access uploaded files via unique URLs and allow sound files to be embedded in Twitter and Facebook. Due to these attractive features, the website has increased its number of users. Users and artists are placed into the platform together to create a community-focused space.
SoundCloud encompasses artists on world tours, artists about to break into stardom and artists hoping for one of their uploads to go viral. The platform has continued expanding with artists ranging from superstars such as Post Malone and Future who regularly have new music coming out, drawing in new followers with their frequent remixes. Other famous artists like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift only post songs off their albums on SoundCloud, and lack the personal connection. Since you can do that on any other streaming service, their followers and streams pale in comparison to Post and Future.
SoundCloud works with users who like to dabble in different genres. The ability to like and organize songs in playlists under your own page makes it easy to expand your music pallette. An especially popular playlist Soundcloud regulates is the charts playlist, where SoundCloud tracks weekly streams around the globe for different genres so that users can see what the most popular songs are in different categories. This also helps users explore new genres and lets them browse songs like they would social media. The interface causes users to stay on the platform and become engrossed in the 12 hours of new music uploaded to the site every minute. Remixes are popular; DJ’s will spin a song a different way or add their own touches or bars. Remixes, covers and collaborations will take a familiar song and add a different layer to it, spinning the way people listen to it and sometimes changing the mood of the song. This broadens users’ musical horizons as they can listen to their artists in a more raw and untouched light, like with The Weeknd covering Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love” or Nicki Minja’s “Pinkprint Freestyle.” It is easy to find artists’ unreleased songs or songs that might not be available to stream on other platforms, accessibilities that further the user experience.
SoundCloud is at the center of a viral and disruptive new age in rap music. To those who grew up with the likes of Tupac, Jay-Z, and Eminem, this does not feel like hip hop. A new crop of rappers has appeared, dubbed “SoundCloud rappers” due to their shared origins on the platform. SoundCloud allows its users to easily upload their own sounds and allows space for a creative niche of artists who feel freer to upload whatever they want because of the informal uploading procedure. The screaming voice of now incarcerated 6ix9ine or the Lil’ Pump and Kanye West’s “I Love It” does not feel like a familiar hip hop song.
But the vulgarity and difference of the artists contribute to why SoundCloud gets attention, and all publicity is good publicity. SoundCloud is known for taking artists like Lil’ Pump and Lil’ Xan and launching them into stardom. Rappers XXXTentacion and JuiceWRLD have owned the platform with their breakout hits of “Look at Me!” and the album “Goodbye and Good Riddance,” respectively. Mumble rap got these artists on the Billboard charts, and that is the reason for their success, so they continue being loyal to the site. Other grassroots SoundCloud artists like Chance the Rapper managed to jumpstart their mainstream music career without the help of a record label, and akin to the previous artists mentioned, are now wanted by consumers and labels alike.
Young musicians like Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes Alessia Cara and Five Seconds of Summer all started off on social media by recording on websites like Youtube in hopes to gain attention. Like Youtube, SoundCloud attracts a lot of budding musicians because of the simple upload button located at the top of the screen where people can easily publish their work. Additionally, by using the repost feature, users can put other’s music directly on their page for others to see what they listen to. On SoundCloud, users can easily share their music taste with their followers, and musicians do not have to worry about an expensive record deal or distribution plan. The people who love SoundCloud love discovering new music, finding less popular tracks and listening through an artist’s entire catalog. Soundcloud connects the user to the artist, a feature that makes it the perfect platform for music lover creator in you.