SoundCloud is a music and audio platform—initially launched in 2008—that is mostly used for music, but also features things like podcasts, demos, and any other audio that users and artists would like to upload and share. Audio can be streamed from their website and through an app that can be downloaded on phones, some smart TVs, and Xbox One, and anyone can make an account both for listening and uploading audio. To make an account, as a listener and creator, all you have to do is click on “Create Account” at the top of the home screen. You can enter any email you’d like to tie to the account, or sign in through a Facebook, Google, or Apple account.
While an account can be made and used for free, there are also several different paid plans available for the streaming side or for enhancing your ability to utilize the platform as a creator. The SoundCloud Go ($4.99/month) and SoundCloud Go+ ($9.99/month) plans are streaming-focused, and help contribute to their unique payment model for artists. There are three types of accounts for creators – Next (free), Next Plus ($2.50/month), and Next Pro ($8/month).
The paid plans allow for more track uploads, eligibility for payment, easier distribution with streaming platforms, opportunities for promotions, and advanced analytics, profile customization, and track management. The extent of these tools depends on what tier you decide to stick with.
When you create an account, it will automatically be on the free Next plan, so no need to worry about surprise charges or anything! Once you’re signed in to this free account, you can begin uploading by pressing the “upload” button towards the top right corner of the screen. From there, you can upload audio clips one at a time or at the same time to automatically turn them into a playlist.
There are a few things to note on this page. First, you can immediately choose to make a playlist of several clips as you upload them, and you can also easily select the privacy settings for the audio before you even upload them. Above the uploading window, it also notes how much of the 3 free upload hours you’ve already taken up, giving you the option to upgrade your plan or simply budget those three hours as you continue to make and upload clips. At the bottom of the window, it also notes the audio file types that are best for audio quality, which will help inform the recording and editing process in the first place.
You must add basic identifying info like a title when going through the uploading process, and afterwards you can head to the “Your tracks” tab to see everything you’ve uploaded and add more detailed descriptions and metadata, all depending on the level of detail you’d like to provide. Once the audio has been uploaded (if it’s been made public), it can be streamed directly through SoundCloud, but there are also many other sites that allow for adding specific SoundCloud uploads and playlists to be embedded onto their website, making SoundCloud a useful tool for not just posting audio on one sharing platform, but also for use on other platforms that aren’t themselves built for audio hosting and sharing.
For example, Word Press itself has a block type that is specifically for sharing SoundCloud clips, all you need to do is add the block and copy in the link for whatever specific clip you’d like to share. The clip to the right is one that I made for an oral history project I worked on in the fall, which I uploaded to SoundCloud after I finished editing it so it could be added to a StoryMap as the media tied to each pin. StoryMap is also an example of the benefit of using SoundCloud to upload your audio to, as StoryMap didn’t allow me to directly upload my audio clips or use links to them on OneDrive. They do, however, easily allow for copying in a link to a clip saved on SoundCloud.
While it also isn’t necessarily the most important thing for us to consider about the platform, SoundCloud’s unique compensation structure for artists who’ve monetized their work is much more fair to artists than other streaming platforms like Spotify. SoundCloud pays based on the streams of their own work rather than creating an all-artist pot that gets put together and redistributed based on streaming share, leading to more direct compensation from consumers to their favorite small artists. While this may not play a role in our work directly, this payment model also shows SoundCloud is at least a more ethical streaming platforms than others, which is always worth considering!
Ultimately, SoundCloud is a very helpful distribution tool that is quite easy to use, whether you’re only interested in basic uploading and sharing functions, or are a creator planning to monetize your work directly through the platform and do more in-depth audience engagement and distribution. The free account is useful and straightforward on its own, and the process of uploading and sharing links to clips and playlists is incredibly simple. If the free account is not enough support as a creator, the paid accounts are also incredibly affordable, with the highest level plan coming in less expensive than most streaming services and other similar storage and file sharing subscription services. For oral histories in particular, if uploading and using short clips, SoundCloud is a tool that can easily be used to use your audio in non-audio based platforms like Word Press and StoryMaps, or even just to send samples of your work to others over email or text.
2 Replies to “SoundCloud”
Hi, Corrine! For creating tours and blogs with oral histories and other audio clips, SoundCloud’s capabilities with other platforms, such as WordPress and StoryMaps, is highly important. Since my digital project will contain oral histories, your review of the software and the walkthrough of how to use it is extremely helpful since I am more familiar with Audacity than this software. Since you work at the Humanities Truck, I am curious which platform – Audacity and SoundCloud – you prefer overall and/or which one in particular instances.
Hi Meredith! First, I’m so glad this is helpful for your project, you’re absolutely gonna kill it! As to your question, I honestly haven’t used either of these platforms with the Humanities Truck since the oral histories I’ve processed have all been videos, so the sound editing that I’ve done has been through Adobe Premiere (which, for the record, is not as good a platform for audio editing as Audacity or other, more similar video editing platforms) and they’re shared on the website as YouTube videos. Considering just Audacity and SoundCloud, I probably prefer Audacity, partially because it is genuinely a free program on the content creation side, versus SoundCloud’s free version being basically a free trial. I also just really enjoy the process of close audio editing, so I’d lean more towards Audacity as something I would immediately endorse and prefer using, but it is partially my own preferences. Plus, they serve different enough functions that SoundCloud and Audacity work more effectively together than using just one in isolation.