Reading Material: Is it Time to Ditch Soundcloud?

I stumbled upon this article over at DJWorx about the future direction of Soundcloud.  In addition to the actual article, I highly recommend that everybody read the comments (which are as informative as the article, if not more so).  The article can be read HERE.  My personal thoughts on the subject can be found after the jump.

- The article seems to suggest that soundcloud's proposed monetization idea will assure deejays that their mixes will not be taken down for copyright infringement in exchange for allowing ads to appear before their mixes play.  I'm perfectly fine with that trade-off IF that becomes the case.  In fact, I'm even okay with paying (unlike most of the commentators on the article) for the ability to have ads placed before my mixes in order to be assured my mixes don't get taken down.

- I understand and agree with everybody's general gripe about the situation, but the reality is that there are no equivalent options to Soundcloud at the moment.  Mixcrate and Mixcloud are not legit options because their networks aren't nearly as big as Soundcloud's.  Users don't pay Soundcloud for the ability to upload mixes/tracks (contrary to popular opinion), you pay for the ability to tap into the Soundcloud network of users and have your music heard.  That's the service that Soundcloud truly provides.  In the event that any of their competitors were to become as big as Soundcloud, they would likely face the same issues that Soundcloud is currently facing.

- Yes, this is another example of deejaying/sampling not being respected as a legitimate art form.  Yes, this is complete bullsh%t.  However, this is the reality of our world.  Whoever controls content is king.  Just look at the business section of the newspaper and see the potential media mergers on the horizon. Wallstreet clearly understands "Content is King."  Instead of complaining and protesting a reality that likely none of us can change, I find it more productive to participate in a "reasonable comprise."  The problem is that I'm still not 100% sure Soundcloud is proposing a reasonable compromise.  Ads in exchange for my mixes not being taken down = I'm good.  Ads + having to pay for Soundcloud + some b/s promise of revenue sharing + my mixes still get taken down = Back to square one.

- In the end, I'm not trying to change the world.  I just want my mixes to be heard.  So far, Soundcloud has been the most effective platform for me as I pursue that goal.  I hope it stays that way.

- In a related, unrelated note, the new Soundcloud app for iphones completely sucks!!


pipomixes said...

Thank you for the links and bringing this up.

I agree that inserting commercials before mixes is a great compromise. I don't see why it couldn't be made to work in a similar manner as YouTube.
The bottom line is that posting copyrighted music is illegal. And that won't change in the near future. Ultimately, mix DJs, bloggers, and collectors are playing by their rules. We must adapt to work with (or around) their rules.

With regard to DJ mixes, copyright holders now have the ability to find infringers if they want to commit the resources to it. But it's expensive, and even cease and desist lettering is expensive when you scale it. But when it comes to a large network like SoundCloud, enforcement is inevitable.

For the record, I am 100% against copyrights. But I want to point out the inherent tentativeness of posting mixes (aka copyrighted music) for unlimited download. If one's goal is to have a popular mix site... there's an inherent paradox: the bigger you get, the more likely you are to be noticed by enforcement.

If you play cat-and-mouse, the winning strategy is to be small and quick. That's why blogs, self-hosted sites, and anonymous file hosting will remain the most reliable option for downloadable mixes.

The file hosting tactics will probably continue to change until users demand a system that provides safe harbor from the corporations. For all the clamor about Net Neutrality, ISPs already have a huge amount of control.

I think it's also worth pointing out that downloading music implies that your audience is actively curating their own personal collection, rather than relying on the curation of others. In the future, I expect the vast majority of listening will be "smart radio" format, where it machine learns your personal algorithm, based on your interactions with the music and your network activity. In other words, we are shifting toward more curation, and away from collection.

In the future, most people will probably not "collect" as much music in the traditional sense of selecting and storing most of their music locally. Some people will, but most will probably rely on algorithms and the curation of others. Of course, people will have favorites and playlists (also forms of curation), but I think collecting will decline. And for that reason, the need to download is going to diminish. And for that reason, I think the demand for a "download" option will decline. If anything, it will be an "add to cloud" or something, which is sort of the same. But the key difference is that people should be able to "share" from cloud account to cloud account (a la Dropbox and Google Drive). This adds an interesting twist.

Hopefully, at some point, a "public" ISP (or a cooperative ISP) can emerge that will enable users to be able to exchange any type of information/data without fear of prosecution. Or maybe a protected cloud service can emerge as an alternative to companies like Google and Amazon who will surely help to enforce copyrights. But obviously people would need to be willing to fight for these services. And I don't see that happening for a long time. But I think eventually it will happen when the technology becomes more accessible and affordable. Eventually, it should be possible for people to set up large, private networks that are free to exchange any type of data or information.

pipomixes said...

Thanks for the thoughtful reply Eric. I really hope sc is striking a deal similar to YouTube. Fingers crossed.

In regards to the curate v collect idea: the one thing that running this blog has taught me is that people still crave a selector. I believe (perhaps better said hope) this is a niche the humans will always have the upper hand over the algorithms.

pipomixes said...

Mixcrate, Mixcloud and House-Mixes are more than enough for me. I never been a fan of Soundcloud's limitation (only 2 hours for free account). With so many cloud storages sites like google drive,dropbox, etc it' very easy to upload the file there and place a link on the mixsite to allow listeners to download (and bypass certain site's restrictions).

I perform most of my computing using a laptop or my desktop thus I am different than most listeners today. I agree with Eric's comment more and more listeners are curating then collecting especially those who use mobile devices primarily. I highly doubt Soundcloud will place ads before files, this does work, somewhat, for video but not for audio. Thank God for adBlock!!

What I think will happen is Soundcloud will use horrible,annoying, and intrusive popovers like Pinterest has done recently urging listeners to login to hear the file or annoying popover ads. Either way I don't think Soundcloud can last into the future. They are on the path of Myspace; destroying what made it popular and enforcing guidelines many of the users do not want nor will comply with.

On a side note have you notice you can't download mixes over year old in mp3 format on Mixcloud anymore? I have pretty much done checking mixcloud for mixes since the hassle isn't worth it anymore. As it is it takes me nearly an hour to download a mix using third party sites.

pipomixes said...

There is ownCloud for those who want a private protected cloud. I'm sure in the near future there will be a public protected cloud service using the same technology. Also have you heard of Popcorn Time or Tor? With all these technologies I could see public protected cloud coming sooner rather than later.

pipomixes said...

The challenge for the cloud operators is that they will still face some of the same "sharing" issues. Any for-profit company that facilitates copyright infringement on a large scale will be taken to court. If Pipo sets up a cloud account and thousands of people download mp3 files from it, it will get shut down. Thus, with cloud sharing, you can only grab stuff from friends, peer-style. And that doesn't scale without outside promotion/coordination. And we've seen how that works out with MegaUpload, zShare, etc. It's not reliable, although it is viable in the short term.

Again, it's a paradox between exposure and ease of sharing. That's the trade off. The only sure protection is legal immunity. And that kind of immunity, at the moment, can only be provided by government legislation or a rogue government like Russia. Eventually, I agree the technology will probably make digital file copyrights moot. But I think this is more of a network issue, than a website or software issue.

With regard to Deep Web stuff, I have been meaning to check out Tor. And I'll check out Popcorn Time too. My own site is in the Deep Web, but I'm really clueless about what others are doing on that level. I haven't even searched for myself on that level. I prefer to stay under the radar because I get to keep doing my thing without any hassles. And in a funny way I'm respecting the laws by keeping my infractions at a non-threatening level. I am gladly willing to trade popularity for the right to share in a small community and not be hassled.

pipomixes said...

Always is a long time ;-) I think software will get better at identifying and finding music based on human input and direction. And I think DJ software will also improve dramatically. But I do think that the actual mixing will continue to evolve where mixing becomes more artistic and less about simply crossfading songs. I think "live remixing" will become much bigger when file technology improves and DJs have access to separate instrument tracks for each song. Whether software can be written to successfully mimic this process is anyone's guess.

pipomixes said...

I agree with all your points except.......all the options you mention don't have a built-in network like soundcloud does (even the plays on Beat Junkies mixes on mixcrate is peanuts). So nobody is going to listen to your mixes unless you are a household name and already have a fan base. Ironically, people keeping saying that soundcloud is going to go the way of myspace. If you think about it, those are the only two platforms that launched the careers of previously unknown artists.

Sites that allow for music uploads existed before soundcloud and they will exist after soundcloud. However, soundcloud has so far been the best to integrate musical file sharing with social networking. As Eric said,anybody who does it better will almost certainly run the same course that soundcloud is currently on.

pipomixes said...

can you embed mixes using owncloud? I'm going to check it out.

pipomixes said...

Did you even watch Battle Star Gallactica (the version with Edward James Olmos)? Let's hope I'm right with the use of "always."

pipomixes said...

I meant "ever" not "even." Sorry about that. One letter completely changed the whole tone of my reply.

pipomixes said...

Haven't seen that Battle Star Gallactica. Worth a watch?

pipomixes said...

As far as I aware just as with google drive or dropbox, no, you can't.

pipomixes said...

1. Sopranos
2. The Wire
3. Breaking Bad
4. Battle Star Gallactica

*** all BSG episodes stream on Netflix

pipomixes said...

Allready tired from all this stuff, Pipo. Respect yo, but give us some old-school ass-kicking mixes, please.

pipomixes said...

you can never fully trust any terms of agreement because they will always reserve the right to change them at any time
soon as hollywood figure out their songs are in mixes the will pressure soundcloud to pay up
i suggest you place your mixes in a few other easily accessible locations like dropbox, google drive or somewhere similar

i also since you turned me on to 500mixes i like to say that my go to archive when i'm looking for mixes also.

i know you want it easily accessable and the above is not nor are social networks like soundcloud but we are diggers at heart we'll always find you pipo :p

if the iphone soundcloud app is similar to the android version it took me a few days but is is possible to scroll.

you have slide your finger/thumb over the wave file
it was a painful few days switching listening from mac to android when i had to start from the beginning each time

pipomixes said...

My gripe about the new app is that you can read the track descriptions. Without the descriptions you only have the title of the mix to go off of when deciding to listen. Is it that way in the droid version as well?

pipomixes said...

in the droid version when i'm on Soul Boulders 2, i have to press on the line of 3 dots bottom right corner (right beside add to favorites heart ) then a menu comes up with 4 choices and info being one of them.

once i pressed it it said no info available but it did still show DJBCAUSE info he posted with the track and the link to MatthewAfrica's website.

the new layout is taking some getting use to especailly if you moving between desktop to mobile

pipomixes said...

Soul boulders

pipomixes said...

3 dots and menu

pipomixes said...

Track info description if that's what u meant

pipomixes said...

Unfortunately, we only get "sharing" option with the three dots on the iphone version

pipomixes said...

damn so either apple or soundcloud left the option out (more than like soundcloud)
give them some feedback they might have simply forgot it on the iOS version