SoundCloud is a popular platform, with millions of users posting their own music. It spans from renowned musicians and producers to budding bands and relatively unknown solo artists. Despite its popularity, several alternatives exist, including platforms like Bandcamp, Mixcloud, and hearthis.at. These platforms, like SoundCloud, offer a space for users to upload self-created songs and market them.
Regarded as the market leader among online music services, SoundCloud allows users to listen to free music and publish full-length songs. It caters to musicians and music labels, provided that the user holds the distribution rights to the uploaded material and does not infringe copyright.
Over time, the service’s functionality has evolved. Originally, the platform was primarily designed for music listening, but has now become a hub for both music producers and listeners.
Established in 2007, SoundCloud is based in Berlin. Initially, it served as a sharing platform for recordings between musicians and producers. The platform quickly grew to allow anyone to access and play songs directly on the website, without needing to register.
Over the years, SoundCloud has morphed into a “YouTube for streaming songs,” used mainly by independent musicians or those working with small record labels. After negotiations with various record companies, SoundCloud now hosts a range of popular and commercial songs alongside those of lesser-known artists.
SoundCloud hosts artists from various music genres, quickly becoming the most popular platform for uploading compilations, remixes, or complete DJ sets. According to SoundCloud, the platform boasts over 175 million users, serving as a platform for both producers and consumers wishing to listen to music for free.
With SoundCloud Go, SoundCloud’s paid subscription service, the company aims to compete with major music streaming providers like Spotify and Apple. The introduction of SoundCloud Go significantly expanded the platform’s music catalog, leading to an increase in the company’s income and daily listeners.
Pricing Models and Features
SoundCloud offers several options for uploading music. The free account allows up to 3 hours of audio material. In contrast, the Pro account, which requires a fee, doubles the capacity to approximately 6 hours. For users who wish to upload unlimited audio material, the Pro Unlimited version is available for a small fee.
For those using SoundCloud primarily as a music listening platform, various options are available. Users can stream externally offered audio files without registration, and free registration allows many songs to be downloaded for free.
Furthermore, SoundCloud operates as a social network. Registered users can follow other users’ profiles, “like” or share musical pieces. The duration bar for each song is represented in the form of waves, allowing users to comment on the songs or certain parts of them.
Pros and Cons
SoundCloud serves as an authentic and dynamic part of today’s music scene, providing a common platform for music creators and lovers. However, from a musician’s perspective, a significant drawback is that music cannot be purchased directly from the platform.
|Basic functions and many features, as well as free Android and iOS compatible apps||A paid account is required to offer more than 3 hours of audio material|
|Long range and easy upload of recordings||Does not offer the possibility of buying own works directly|
|Extensive functionality such as in social networks (“Likes” and “Shares”) and connection to them, making it suitable in terms of marketing|
Alternatives to SoundCloud
In the realm of music promotion, SoundCloud is a well-known platform. However, many alternatives are available, each with unique features and focuses. Some emphasize free music sharing, while others lean towards monetization of the content shared. In this guide, we’ll delve into several leading alternatives to SoundCloud, each targeting both music creators and avid music listeners.
Founded in 2007, Bandcamp is a favorite alternative to SoundCloud. It primarily caters to musicians and musical groups who have yet to sign with a record label. Bands and artists in genres like rock and indie music find immense popularity on Bandcamp. In 2014, “Bandcamp for Labels” was introduced, attracting well-known independent labels such as Sub Pop, Epitaph, Ipecac, Ninja Tune, and Fat Wreck Chords.
Bandcamp offers free registration for artists, while record labels must pay a fee if they promote more than 15 bands. Notably, every artist or group has the authority to determine whether their music is available for free or at a specific price. Bandcamp takes a relatively small cut from music sales—15% of the sales price, dropping to 10% once an album has been downloaded 50,000 times. Notably, the platform also enables the sale of physical media like CDs, records, or merchandise, charging 10% on these sales.
However, Bandcamp lacks certain social networking features. It allows following users, sharing content, and integrating with websites but does not support comments or direct messaging to musicians.
- Free to use with a relatively wide reach
- Easy monetization of music at favorable conditions
- Lacks social networking components
hearthis.at was also born in Germany and is not only similar to SoundCloud in this respect: the appearance and the features offered are based on the competition. For this reason, the user can see the well-known typical waves of the representation of the duration bar of the songs, but also has the possibility of including comments, giving “Like” or sharing or using the service through of an app suitable for both Android and iOS devices.
hearthis.at, born in Germany, is another alternative, bearing a close resemblance to SoundCloud in terms of design and features. The platform allows for easy and free music file sales, with the seller retaining 90% of the sales.
The free version allows uploading of 1500 MB of audio material in MP3 format. For users needing more space, hearthis.at offers a paid version that supports additional formats like FLAC, WAV, AIF, M4A, AAC, OGG, or WMA.
However, two primary issues plague the platform: its limited popularity and a striking similarity to SoundCloud, both in function and design. It only offers a global map feature indicating tagged users based on a given music style and their locations.
- Free version comes with most essential functions
- Easy monetization of music with fair commissions
- Social networking components and app availability
- Limited reach compared to SoundCloud
- Design and function heavily mimic SoundCloud
Mixcloud deviates from SoundCloud’s approach, focusing mainly on DJ mixes. Besides hosting DJ mixes, Mixcloud also serves as an online platform for podcasts and radio programs. Notable users include Barack Obama, Ted Talks, and the technology website Wired.
The basic account is free, granting listeners access to the entire database and allowing producers to upload unlimited audio files. Mixcloud offers a Premium account for an affordable monthly or yearly fee that eliminates ads. Music producers may opt for the Pro account, providing access to various statistics and features, like automated and scheduled uploads. One major drawback is that Mixcloud only supports streaming, not downloading of audio content.
- Targets a niche audience, ideal for DJ mixes and audio programs
- No restrictions on uploading audio files
- Relatively high reach
- Only supports streaming, not downloading of audio content
- Not suitable for creators who do not produce mixes or audio programs
The Future FM
The Future FM is another music streaming platform focusing on DJ mixes. Listeners can filter mixes based on music genre or mood, but the volume of music hosted by the platform is difficult to ascertain. Notable users include famous DJs such as Tiësto and David Guetta. The platform is entirely free, allowing for unlimited music uploads. For those who prefer an ad-free experience, a premium version is available for a fee.
- Ideal for DJ compositions
- Supports unlimited music uploads
- Limited reach
- Not suitable for creators who do not produce DJ mixes
SoundCloud: A Versatile Music Streaming Service
SoundCloud is an exceptionally versatile and user-friendly service, and these features have propelled it to the forefront of free music publishing platforms. The quick and straightforward account creation process, coupled with the free account’s access to a professional artistic scene, has made it an essential tool for artists worldwide. SoundCloud also provides a wide-reaching marketing channel, further amplifying its appeal to creators.
Nevertheless, SoundCloud isn’t the only platform offering similar services. Several other music marketing alternatives can cater to specific needs and requirements, especially for artists interested in selling their music online. Bandcamp and hearthis.at are excellent examples of these alternatives.
Bandcamp and hearthis.at: Ideal for Online Music Sales
Both Bandcamp and hearthis.at allow artists to maintain direct control over their sales and finances from purchases. These platforms provide the necessary infrastructure for selling music online and charge a reasonable commission on the products sold. This arrangement eliminates the need for upfront payments before offering purchasable music on these online music streaming platforms. These features make Bandcamp and hearthis.at ideal options for artists seeking to monetize their craft.
Free Music Services: Catering to Specific Genres
For artists interested in offering their music for free, there are other music streaming services similar to SoundCloud. Some platforms specialize in specific music genres and niches. Bandcamp hosts many rock bands, while The Future FM and Mixcloud are predominantly home to DJ mixes. If your music aligns with these categories, publishing online with the corresponding provider is highly recommended.
Key to Successful Music Promotion: An Effective Marketing Mix
Just like online marketing campaigns, the success of music marketing and related promotional campaigns on the internet hinges on a well-planned and target group-oriented marketing mix. By leveraging multiple platforms for marketing your music, you increase your reach and potential for success. Once your music reaches the listeners across these platforms, the path is clear for successful music promotion.
To sum up, SoundCloud’s easy-to-use interface and broad user base make it a popular choice for music streaming. However, alternatives like Bandcamp and hearthis.at offer superior options for direct sales. For specific music genres and niches, platforms like The Future FM and Mixcloud prove more suitable. The key to successful music promotion is a combination of platforms and strategies that understand and cater to your target audience.