The new SoundCloud app sucks

A follow-up to “R.I.P. Soundflake”

Feel free to read this post on it’s own, but it does refer to my previous post about the death of Soundflake, a 3rd party SoundCloud client that was shut down a few days before SoundCloud unveiled their updated app.

At the time that I’m writing this it has a mere two star rating, users really hate change, don’t they? As I’m still pretty bummed about the whole situation, I thought the best outcome for me personally would be people hating their new app, you know, so I wouldn’t be the only one holding a grudge. Schadenfreude.

Wrong! Turns out it only adds to my frustration about the way this thing went down and the course they are taking.

Let me elaborate:

The good part

You should always start and end with something good, so I’ll start with congratulating SoundCloud to their new app. I really like the unique approach to the music player, looks and feels very SoundCloud (in a positive way!). They are putting more focus on the listening experience, which is exactly what they did wrong with their old app, so again, well done.

With Soundflake, we tried to fix exactly this problem. So now that we know about their new app, it makes perfect sense why they shut us down.

We beat them to it.

When we were told that our app was too close to their own experience I wasn’t ready to agree. I thought that we could just be a cool audio player, and they’d just be the real app. As I mentioned before, the move away from shoving everything that SoundCloud is into one app is the right one. They went a little too far on that part, but I’ll go into detail on this later.

So without us knowing, SoundCloud was already working on something that’s a lot like Soundflake. But they didn’t commit to the idea, and that’s a real bummer and leads us to…

The bad part

We didn’t think that Soundflake was better because we stripped away all the “unnecessary” features, added some design and called it a day. That’s kinda what I feel SoundCloud did here.

I mean what the hell have they been doing with their time when the resulting app doesn’t add anything new to the listening experience? No resume playback for DJ Mixes, no manageable queue… nothing. You can’t even create playlists - really?

That’s underwhelming, and it shows with their current AppStore ratings. For the record, there are numerous positive reviews of people loving the app, but since this is the bad part, I’ll go ahead and quote a one star review that I think explains perfectly what SoundCloud did wrong here:

Pretty but at a Big Cost by John Montgomery
I am not normally one to write reviews but I felt that I needed to address some glaring issues with the new update.
The new update is sleak and easy to play music but Soundcloud is much more than just a music player. I enjoy seeing and making comments and learning about the tracks to which I am listening.
Issue #1: This update takes all comments, links and other information about tracks. This is horrible if I am trying to find set list to a new mix or the availability of the track on music stores. Additionally I cannot make comments either, which seems like a large step away front the core mission of Soundcloud.
Issue #2: The search feature has been trimmed so you cannot specify whether you are searching for a person, track or playlist. Hopefully search has been optimized so this can be overlooked.
Issue #3: You can no longer view other’s likes. I used to enjoy looking at my favorite artist’s likes to see what music was up-and-coming or to find music that I may enjoy. I cannot see that anymore.
Overall I could make a huge list on the many features that were taken out but I don’t have the time and it makes me too frustrated. If I am missing these features please let me know and Soundcloud, if you read this, please reconsider the changes that were made. Otherwise I will be abandoning my (former) favorite app for an alternative.

Now I could go ahead and go through all the critic and point out how Soundflake had most of these things covered (plus additional features that John never saw in their original client), but it would be of little use since it makes no sense to root for something that you can’t use anyway.

Note how, by just saying this, I pointed it out anyway, but make it sound like I didn’t mean to - journalism.

Something really stuck out to me in Johns review, “the core mission of SoundCloud”, and “SoundCloud is much more than just a music player”.

More than a just a music player, exactly. They are a social network, and they should embrace it, not dumb it down. “Just a music player” was completely okay for a 3rd party like us, in fact it was pretty much our advantage. It’s not okay for SoundCloud, not without offering the complete experience first, and then deliver alternative apps that strip away other parts afterwards, much like facebook handles its core product and their additional apps like Messenger, Paper or Camera.

It should have been us. And I don’t mean us, as in Soundflake, but us as in SoundClouds developer community. Us, exploring other ways to use their platform, finding ways to improve it. I don’t understand why they don’t want this to happen, it’s beneficial to them and their users.

It’s easy to be the guy calling them out without knowing what’s happening behind closed curtains. I hate articles where people claim to know what Apple has to do next — last time I checked they were doing pretty damn fine without you guys, and for that matter, so is SoundCloud without me.

So do I feel like a goddamn hypocrite writing this post?

Absolutely, but I’m angry, I’m a part of this thing with Soundflake and I really need to blow off some steam.

Anger: an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

SoundCloud didn’t respond to my previous post or all those negative messages that users are sending them via twitter, so Seneca must be totally right here. And maybe I’ll sleep a little better at night with that acid out of my system.

With their new TOS and recent actions they are creating a toxic environment for any sort of innovation concerning their very own product to happen. Twitter clients came up with most of twitters current features. They don’t seem to honor that anymore, but at least twitter clients are still around — unlike Soundflake.

Even if you decide to build something for SoundCloud, you’ll never know if you’ll be allowed to monetize it, let alone releasing it at all.

And even if you do they already made sure that you can’t do jack shit about them stealing it afterwards. In case you didn’t read my previous post, I’ll quote it again.

You hereby acknowledge that SoundCloud may currently or in future develop apps and services that may be similar to or competitive with your app. — SoundCloud TOS

So while they fail to deliver the core mission they rather shut down those little satellites orbiting around them, trying to shoot up their own all while they are abandoning their home planet.

Houston, we have a problem.

The other good part

I said I’d end with something good again, but this is the real world and there are no happy ends — grow up!

But seriously, the new SoundCloud app is alright, it looks clean, has a really cool player with great interactions, but it’s pretty weak that they didn’t bring anything new to the table here. In fact, they did the opposite by throwing out comments, song infos and profiles.

Maybe they are already working on additional apps that will deal with the aspects of SoundCloud that they just removed from their main app, they’d be stupid not to. Their content creators are completely left out on this update, so I’m pretty puzzled that they made this bold change without offering respective companion apps.

Their new app should not be the one app that represents their whole brand, their main mobile experience. At least not on its own. It’s nothing like their desktop experience, and that certainly doesn’t feel right.

It’s not their core mission, so as this posts title already claimed, in my humble opinion, the new SoundCloud app sucks.