If you’re like us, you will love Soundcloud. Ever since we followed a link on Twitter from Hint that led us to our first Soundcloud page, we have been smitten by the site. We really like the whole concept of being able to share music so easily, but, more than this, we love the community that Soundcloud has managed to build up in such a short period of time – this is how recommendations and peer review should work (take note Ping!).
Whilst we’ve put up a good few of our own mixes on the site, we so get off on the many soul, funk and disco re-edits that seem to be the lifeblood of Soundcloud. Tracks are posted by a wide range of people: from guys working in their spare time for free, to professional musicians. Some do it for fun, some for constructive feedback and some for promotion.
So, we thought it would be a really useful exercise to ask some of Soundcloud’s top contributors as to what drives them to create and post tracks, and what they get out of the whole Soundcloud experience. We asked our favourite Soundclouders, including Hint and international producer and remixer, Dimitri From Paris, to answer a few simple questions for us, and, happily, they all said yes! We’ve reproduced all of their answers below and, as you might imagine, there is a wide range of answers and views expressed (some contradicting others), and some slightly controversial ones. We really appreciate the time and thought that these guys have put into their answers, so please do check them all out on Soundcloud.
Can you tell me, in your own words, what sort of music you put on Soundcloud, and why you do it?
Moplen: I started re-editing some of my favorite songs for my listening and playing pleasure, songs that are already perfect, to which I wanted to give my personal point of view; for example the edit I’ve done of ‘Rock the Casbah’: this is a song I often play during my gigs in its ‘dub’ format (the B side of the 12″) along with the vocal version, so I thought it was a good idea to create an edit that mixed both versions, not just to have it in a more DJ-friendly format but mostly to extend the parts I feel and where I want them to be.
when I edit a track my intention is to create a version I would have loved to see on the original release of the song.
The Owl: At the moment I put everything I produce onto Soundcloud. I am brand new to production (2 years) and I suppose I am hungry for feedback, advice and just wanting to swap ideas and show off what I have spent hours working on. The beauty of Soundcloud is that there is always a few people who understand what you are trying to do, even if you haven’t really achieved what you set out for. I have been DJing since I was 15 so I am very much a lover of all styles of music. My Soundcloud page has tracks ranging from Motown edits to deep tech-house.
Jay Negron: I do it so many people as possible can get a chance to hear the music from back in the day. ‘Todays’ music came from the original disco days. I started DJ-ing in 1974 and also started editing in 1976. My inspiration came from Tom Moulton and Walter Gibbons. They could take a track and give it a whole new outlook! I’ve done many Re-Edits (we called them ‘Dubs’ back in the days) – we used to press them on acetates so we could play them at the discos. ‘Hollywood Dub’ or ‘Hollywood I’ was one of mine. I also like sharing some of my work so others can enjoy them.
scratchandsniff: Mainly I put up soul, funk and disco tracks that I’ve fed into Ableton to be rearranged or extended to my own liking. I do it because it’s the way I want them to sound when I play them out.
Hawk Edits: I like to do all kind of music, from Rock to Disco and from Hip Hop to Soul. Some edits are simple, basic edits for DJ-purposes. Others are more complex, basically the idea of restructuring the whole track using different parts of the song. More a ‘traditional’ way of editing; think of the editors / remixers of the 80s. The Latin Rascals and Arthur Baker are heroes to me. The Arthur Baker dub of ‘Too Much Blood‘ by The Rolling Stones is a milestone.
Hint: I upload all sorts – snippets of forthcoming releases, full streams of current releases and other bits and pieces which may never be released. I do it because it’s a great platform for exposing my music to a wide variety of people around the world. In these times of leaks and file sharing, it also puts a little bit of control back in my hands. It’s a limited window of opportunity, but at the beginning of each track’s life I get to decide what gets heard and when, which I think is an important part of the artistic process.
DJ Friction: Mostly I put up my own Disco/Funk re-edits but also my own songs, productions and remixes. I like the fact that people all over the world can listen to my stuff and leave comments. I also do this to find like-minded people and probably get some DJ bookings or remix requests.
Dimitri From Paris: I use Soundcloud as a kind of showreel of the various aspects of what I do as a DJ producer, I can put up exclusive re-edits, soon to be released productions, remixes etc…
We especially love the re-edits and remixes of soul and disco tracks – do you think Soundcloud and your contributions are helping keep these artists’ music alive?
Moplen: I think that those songs are masterpieces and don’t need any help to stay alive but it’s inspirational to see that many people still love them.
The Owl: My opinions on the whole re-edit thing are somewhat varied. I personally like to take a track and change it to a point that keeps the original flavour but offers something quite different from the original. It kind of annoys me when people take the original track and just loop a few bars at the start, then sit back and take the acclaim for something that they have done little with. It almost seems a bit egotistical to some extent. And quite often they are offering a ‘free’ download of a track that is not too dis-similar from the original which raises the whole musical ethics question. On the other side I think that it does keep alive the classics of the past and introduce people (myself included) to tracks and artists that they would never have known existed. Some of the re-edits on Soundcloud blow me away. Touchsoul and Rotciv are complete opposites in the way they edit but are without a doubt two of the most talented on the site for edits.
Jay Negron: Hopefully, the users of Soundcloud will investigate the artists that I spotlight here and spread the word of how good their music is.
scratchandsniff: Definitely! Personally I’ve found out about so much stuff that I’d never heard and probably would never have if it wasn’t for Soundcloud and in turn I’ve had emails from listeners commenting on my edits saying that they never knew this track or ever heard of the artist and are now looking for what else they’ve done. It’s all about sharing the knowledge.
Hawk Edits: Yes! Soundcloud and it’s contributors are definitely giving the props to the original artists. And through the edits the ‘old’ music fits right in todays DJ-sets.
Hint:I have mixed feelings about this. The current re-edit trend certainly introduces people to a lot of music which they otherwise wouldn’t have heard. Of course, you could argue that DJs have been doing that job just fine for decades. Re-edits keep the music alive in that respect, but they can also take away from the original artists, because it’s not unusual to see the re-editor getting credit for stuff they didn’t do. For example, I’ve seen one re-edit posted up where the only changes were an extended intro and some beefed up drums, but there were several comments praising the re-editor for the bassline work and synths etc. – material that was un-changed from the original! That’s the danger – people often don’t take these re-edits for what they are and perhaps the original artists get disrespected as a result. In a club context, it’s all cool of course – re-edits serve a purpose and have done for years. They’re designed to make certain tracks more suitable for mixing, or to enhance or even remove sections according to the re-editor’s tastes. So I guess any issues I have are down to presentation and context. I’ve done a re-edit myself and posted it up, just to see what would happen. Like I said – I have mixed feelings about the whole process.
DJ Friction: Yes i think a lot of people are learning trough Soundcloud about music. I can also see that in some of the comments. I learned through Hip Hop about original music being sampled and I think today a lot of that awareness of stuff you might have never heard is happening on Soundcloud. But I think only very view people will actually go and buy an album or single of the original artist, most people are like hunters to find free downloads. So it may keep the music alive but it won’t necessarily help the artists financially.
Dimitri From Paris: I like the community aspect of Soundcloud. I found there’s a very talented re-edit community that is also quite knowledgable. By way of your own and your follower’s comments it’s easy to inform and be informed of any worthwhile new tracks.
What do you get out of the whole Soundcloud experience?
Moplen: To get in touch with artists (DJs and producers), share tracks and receive their precious feedback.
The Owl: I get a lot out the Soundcloud experience. As I have said before I am new to production so I am trying to soak up as much information and advice as possible. I have learned so much from talking to people on the site. It also gives me a chance to get my tracks out there for record labels to hear and also see what other people are making at the moment rather than after official releases.
Jay Negron: First of all, I’ve met some nice and multi-talented folks here. People that share my enthusiasm and passion for the music I love. I would have never heard from the likes of DJ Friction, Moplen, Hawk, Alkalino, Andrew Clarke, Onur Engin, Jaime Bull, Suonho, Touchsoul, DJ Mila, Munga, InnerWestSoul, and Danny Barbour (scratchandsniff) – these guys have contributed largely to my Disco Flight Show on Disco935 Internet Radio.
scratchandsniff: I like being able to sit and spend hours listening to other people’s new original music and also interpretations of songs you know well, don’t know at all or you may have even forgotten about them, and to also share my own interpretations in return.
It is like a maze sometimes and you can loose yourself for hours with the click of a mouse.
Hawk Edits: I love it. People can experiment with their edits and remixes and show their skills to the whole world. There’s a lot of really good editors and remixers out there and almost everyday I’m excited to hear some good stuff.
Hint: It gives valuable feedback. That’s not so important for me when it comes to making music, although it’s always encouraging to get enthusiastic comments (especially if I’ve tried something a bit different). The real value is for the ‘industry’ side of things. I can learn a lot from tracking which of my uploads get more activity. For example, I’m currently in the early planning stages of getting a remix compilation together, so using Soundcloud to see which of my remixes are most popular certainly helps me in making a shortlist of tracks to include. As a music fan I also get a lot out of Soundcloud – checking out music from all over the world and connecting with other artists.
DJ Friction: Mostly I have met a lot of like-minded people and have discovered a lot of music and re-editors or remixers that are doing great stuff. I’m getting great feedback from people all around the world who would have never heard my music without Soundcloud. Also I get requests from blogs to send them mixes and so on which is cool as it helps to get your name out there.
Dimitri From Paris: I play a lot of stuff that I found on Soundcloud that is mostly unavailable elsewhere. And I really like the instant feedback on the stuff I post, it’s very interesting and useful too.
Soundcloud has turned into a real community in such a short time – what do you think that is down to?
Moplen: Soundcloud has the same concept that Myspace had at the very beginning but, being all about music, it’s more useful for anyone that wants to promote his music instead of chatting.
The Owl: I don’t know if Soundcloud needs to change an awful lot in the near future. I can see them putting on a few events in various cities around the world very shortly. I am not entirely sure just how big they are yet (which could be a good thing). I reckon they will soon add a chat room to the site as music nerds love to yak, but I think it is just fine the way it is.
Jay Negron: Music is universal; it brings people together; whether you are a producer, remixer, editor, or an avid fan.
scratchandsniff: I think that’s down to the amount of folk that are on the same wavelength and are appreciating what everyone else is doing. I think there’s a sense of trust where your following someone and you’re open to what they are listening to themselves and that passes on and on through followers.
Hawk Edits: Soundcloud itself could be a lot more user-friendly I think. It sure has the opportunity to grow more and more.
Hint: The site is relatively stripped-down, so it attracts proper ‘music people’ on the whole. There’s no blogs or gig listings to distract you – you visit Soundcloud to hear and discuss music. As a result, there is more often than not more weight to each comment, song play and click of the Favourite button. It’s also more rewarding when you get involved – the more comments you make, the more you receive and so on. If you just upload a bunch of tracks and never log in again, you won’t get very far (unless you’re already famous).
DJ Friction: It was the first music platform of it’s kind. To see the actual waveform of the music file and the possibility to write comments into the waveform at a specific point of the song made it very unique and a great tool for musicians but also for DJ’s. And the possibility for everyone to share your uploaded music on other social networks and blogs played a big part in that too.
Dimitri From Paris: I had a hard time at the beginning because I was seeing this as yet another social network thing, but it’s really solely based on musical affinities and nothing else. People who get involved only do it by posting tracks or commenting on music. It stays focused on Music. It goes very fast building a network of people with similar tastes in the deepest niches like re-edits etc….
Where would you like Soundcloud to go in the next few years?
Moplen: To give less well-known but talented DJs and producers the chance to be found out from labels and promoters.
The Owl: I just hope people stay open minded to music and appreciate the effort that goes into every track produced. A track may run for 5 minutes but I just hope people understand that it takes a hell of a lot longer to get it to the finished product.
Jay Negron: I know it’s hard to do, but maybe Soundcloud can set up some legit, legal releases so we can further share the music and keep it going. (Maybe an Internet Radio Station?)
scratchandsniff: I’d like it to be doing exactly what it is doing right now and that’s help feed my love discovering good music.
Hawk Edits: To be in contact directly with major (and the bigger minor) record companies. This way it’s easier to recognise talented people and give them a chance to work in the music biz.
Hint: I hope it just keeps growing as it is. They’re very good at introducing much-requested features as they update. It would be good if they introduced an option to have a player without the waveform visible – that’s one of the most frequent complaints I’ve read about the site. People say that seeing the waveform in advance takes away some of the mystery and excitement of listening to something for the first time – if you can spot the drops / changes before they come, a little bit of the magic is lost.
DJ Friction: The biggest problem that most people are not aware of is that all the music that is not your own (be it re-edits or mixes) that is uploaded, they don’t have the rights to share that music and make it downloadable or even sell it. I wish we could find an acceptable way for everybody to make it more legal. It is only a question of time until someone is getting sued…unfortunately.
Dimitri From Paris: I hope it can develop to be made slightly more affordable, as I find that some useful paid options can put it out of reach of hobbyists / semi-pros who are also the ones bringing interesting stuff to discover. A pro option to be able to directly sell your music could be eventually of interest.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share, on Soundcloud or music in general?
DJ Friction: I wish I would have more time … (I wanted to finish that sentence but I think that sums it up pretty good, ha!)
Dimitri From Paris: Too many, and not enough time to ramble, in the end I just try go with the flow as long as it’s enjoyable. I found Soundcloud quite inspiring as a lot its participants I found have great talent which is something that quickly disappears from the pro industry.
We’d like to thank all our contributors for the time and effort to put their answers together, and of course, Soundcloud, for coming up with the whole thing in the first place. Let’s hope that the site continues to bring new music to new people, and grows in scale and capability as its promise suggests.
And, for the record, here’s our own contribution to the Soundcloud community…