I expected when writing this post it might end up being quite long, because it is a year’s worth of struggle with fortunate unique benefits from going through a specific process.
Ultimately I would like to share the understanding I've gained to help others who choose to invest their time into reading this post.
I've taken a lot of losses. I hope that by reading this you will avoid those particular pitfalls & benefit from these tips.
Before Online Music Culture
There was a time in the past that I used to make beats with instrument presets, focused on drums, chords, melody, general muting techniques to create a varied basic song arrangement.
I used to do this using a keyboard that had all those functions built in.
I would make a beat a day, and the only person hearing those beats was me.
Eventually I started to link the keyboard up to a computer and record each individual instrument, drum or percussion part as audio so it could be sequenced using Acid, and have additional parts added made in Reason, and burnt to a CD for playing to singers or rappers I wanted to collaborate with.
After Online Music Culture
Later on I found out soundcloud existed, and I made an account, uploaded some music & followed every account that had deadmau5 or mau5 in the username, since that was my favorite producer by that time.
I followed 2000 accounts and hit that follow limit on the first day (that’s a massive fail!).
At the time, soundcloud had groups, which were genre based and allowed users to get their music discovered by other curious users. Soundcloud also had the facility to send-to-many, meaning you could send a once written message by batch to every user that was following your account back.
These two features were removed at various points in soundcloud’s history.
Now would be a good time to start addressing some mistakes, with suggestions for more effective methods.
1. Following other soundcloud users
From my personal experience, if I were to make a new soundcloud account today, as a content creator, I wouldn’t follow anyone immediately.
There should be a personal rule, you follow people who are willing to repost, like, comment & follow your page. Be strict to all 4 of those requirements. That rule will mean you won’t be trigger happy on following other users, and it also means the follows would be more meaningful & more permanent.
Some users will follow your account, but that’s all they will do. If your policy is to follow back any followers, the majority of these will eventually unfollow you for a variety of reasons (i.e. your lack of interaction with their page, or their own strategy may be to temporarily follow others & unfollow regardless). This will make your follow count appear that you need others more than they need you, which reflects demand, and will actually reduce the interest others have in your page, in my opinion.
If someone is following nobody, and has 100 followers, that looks more desirable than having 100 followers while following 1000 users. It can look in the latter case as though your music has been rejected by 900 users.
2. Soundcloud Groups
Some time after soundcloud removed groups, a website was set up called soundcloudgroups.com and this has now changed to become repostexchange.com
Repost Exchange is an excellent website if you want to get your music heard by the other content creators on soundcloud.
There is another type of soundcloud user, listeners who use ‘Soundcloud Go’, which is a music streaming system attempting to compete with Spotify and other similar services. Those users are not content creators, & don’t generally upload music to their soundcloud account so wont be using Repost Exchange.
AtomCollectorRecords.com is a site similar to Repost Exchange, but it is less focused on reposting and more focused on commenting. All you really need to do on Atom Collector is listen for a few seconds then you can click ‘next track’, but when I use it I recognize that all its users are truly in the same situation; we are content creators and want to get our music heard by other people because if we only made it for ourselves to hear, we wouldn’t have uploaded it.
A functional music community helps music makers to improve their future work, understand how other people react to their music & find ways to develop their style & techniques to improve musically. That’s what I’d imagine we all want, so I listen & give feedback where I can. In some cases where nothing comes to mind or I really don’t have anything positive to say, I just won’t comment- but I do listen.
If you want to send a message to many people, you have options outside of soundcloud to do so.
You could join a group online that shares the same interests as you, and if it’s allowed by the group’s moderators you can share your message in that group. That’s one way. Another way is to run a forum, or a Discord chat server. If it is active, and you visit regularly and are willing to be involved, you can share your message with the other users there.
Another method is to use a service that can collect email addresses like Mailchimp. This is typically embedded into a website, but you can also build an email list by using bandcamp. Instead of charging money for your music you could request the downloader’s email address instead. You can charge money & ask for their email address, but personally I wouldn’t want to make the customer feel like they are having to pay twice for one product.
The psychological effects of apparent failure in online music culture
As I mentioned before, I used to make a beat a day. This has severely reduced in frequency due to a negative impact of a lack of beneficial feedback, which damaged my personal motivation.
When I first joined soundcloud, I was extremely motivated to use the site, visiting it every day & uploading so much music I often had to have a soundcloud unlimited membership just so it could all be displayed.
I wasn’t happy with the ratio I achieved after 2 years, which was 3500 followers. I was following 2000 accounts, I would get an average of 35 likes per upload. I deleted that soundcloud page, to mentally free myself from the statistical enslavement I felt had become habitual.
I started a new page, tried a new strategy & found success in that I found a user through an old friend, who was very popular and had a lot of support on soundcloud, but their music wasn’t without flaws, so I asked them via direct message if I could remix one of their tracks. I did the remix with their permission, they sent me stems & really showed enthusiasm towards everything I was subsequently uploading to soundcloud, so their support helped me to grow a following faster & easier that time around.
On that page my personal best stats were 150 likes on 2 different tracks. An average of 70 likes per upload by my guess. I was very active and also visited the pages of users who liked, commented, reposted my tracks & that all helped.
Later on, I got bored of that brand & wanted a new start, so I made a new soundcloud page. This time I tried a service I had heard of in the past but never tried: Cloudkillers.
Cloudkillers was a good service, but what I liked about it was the intentions of its staff, but I did not like the way the users operated. There was a lot more hip hop & rap than any other genre, with no way to select in advance what you were most interested in hearing (unlike Repost Exchange, which didn’t exist at the time).
I was uploading electrohouse, not a genre commonly listened to by a hip hop & rap audience; so while I was getting comments on my music, these comments seemed forced, and certainly were not followed up with an optional like click. The people would have to write out a comment even if they weren’t into the song or just didn’t understand the genre well.
Then Cloudkillers stopped working.
There didn’t appear to be any popular solution, so I decided to start the Audiozoo Forum, as a way to build a community of music making content creators who could use it to easily find others at a similar skill level & genre interests to themselves.
Audiozoo was started with 3 main focus points:
- Artist Development
- Talent Scouting
Those who received promotion could connect with others making similar genres, and those I didn’t feel were ready for promotion would be supported with Artist Development, where anything I could do to help them I would. Some members actually progressed from entry level to promotion-ready & I was proud to see them improve.
I was so focused on eradicating the useless commenting I got through Cloudkillers, that I started writing soundcloud comments with excessive detail & overwhelming positive feedback & constructive criticism, to shatter the soundcloud community’s acceptance of useless comments in an environment where there was so much potential for growth, and also to advertise Audiozoo to recruit more members & continue where Cloudkillers had left off.
The feedback I was doing evolved into song reviewing, and I started telling the artist via Twitter that they had received a song review.
In most cases, the artist would be very happy about this & retweet the message, helping the Audiozoo brand to spread.
I eventually stopped doing score based reviews because I learned that Chatsong treat reviews more like an artist showcase, and since music is subjective, I didn’t want to score any song lower than 7, so I started doing song analyses instead with no score given.
I was also doing playlists to showcase artists, bands & producers I met that I felt were ready to put music out as opposed to artist development.
I originally planned to keep that playlist down to a 30 song cap & release a new one every season, but many people joined the forum months after I had invited them, so I ended up allowing in more than 30 songs.
With about 60 members, I was unable to listen to 60 tracks per month to ensure I was hearing their new releases. It became too time consuming & difficult for me as an artist who has music ideas spontaneously, to listen to such an uncontrolled variety of music genres with such systematic regularity.
So instead I allowed the one playlist to be capped at 100 songs, but instead of promising to listen to 100 tracks a month I just promise to keep that playlist at the pinned tweet, top of my Twitter, to give it maximum visibility, like a permanent repost.
I have gone from:
1. Making music every day & being happy even if I’m the only person hearing it (positive)
2. Finding soundcloud & becoming habitually enslaved by addiction to having my music uploads heard by others (negative)
3. Giving up on soundcloud, expecting only useless comments and losing the focus required to make music every day (negative)
4. Becoming a music promoter, too busy with other people’s music to be able to focus on my own (negative)
5. Discovering Atom Collector & Repost Exchange for getting music heard, allowing for stability as an artist (positive)
6. Now doing music reviews for a fee through Audiu.net, with beats available for lease on Beatstars.com (positive)
7. The next step will be to integrate Hootsuite into Audiozoo’s Twitter based promotion to enable tweet scheduling (positive)
So I’ve found a balance of being able to make profitable music, guarantee getting it heard, & doing paid song reviewing.
I would have loved to be in this position when I first joined soundcloud.
So I hope anyone who is using soundcloud, could potentially benefit from reading this, which is exactly why I wrote it.
Thanks for reading!
You can contact me easily via Twitter. (twitter.com/audiozoomusic)