In case y’all didn’t know, I also am a writer with the fine people at Do Androids Dance (DAD). It helps pay some of the bills and I get promos that would make you kill your mother.
So I wake up today to get back to work after a lazy Christmas break. Like all the current top notch music journalists I open up Soundcloud to see what the new new is. I get a message saying “sorry something went wrong”. I decide that instead of searching for new shit, I should just check out the promos that came to me. Like I said before, this can be fucking great and make me feel really cool but there is also a ton of garbage because a lot of people cannot come to terms with the fact that they suck at making music. Anyway, I go to listen to the first track. It’s a Soundcloud link obviously because every music link is a Soundcloud link now. It doesn’t work.
If Soundcloud were any other site this would be a minor annoyance. We’d all be like “ok I guess I’ll come back later”. The thing is, when Soundcloud goes down, the music media goes down with it. I don’t know what the statistic is but I would venture to say that if there is music streaming placed on a website, especially a prominent music website, there is a 80 to 90% chance that it’s a Soundcloud widget. In many cases when Soundcloud fails, the problem doesn’t just effect it’s own site, but also every single Soundcloud widget embedded in websites that can range from the mighty Rolling Stone to this one where I post about my penis.
Soundcloud is a wonderful tool. It’s elegant presentation of streamable music was a niche waiting to be filled. The innovation of allowing comments on the stream, at a particular time in the song was a great way to allow artist and their fans to communicate. Many of the artists currently headlining festivals across the globe built their careers on Soundcloud. I think in a decade or less we will be talking of the early years of Soundcloud fondly. It sparked an explosion of musical creativity and connected people with similar tastes who happened to live in different corners of the Earth. You had Japanese people collaborating with Croatians. People from Argentina were doing projects with New Zealanders. That’s some bizarre ass cultural mixing. Language, religion, race, it didn’t matter though. The communication was through music. People came up with all these weird micro genres like Seapunk, Icepunk and Slimepunk. This crazy melting pot of culture and style still persists to this day, though to a lesser extent. Soundcloud is clamping down on a lot of the fun through their attempt at seriously monetizing the site and enforcing copyright. That’s another issue I’ll get to in a bit.
Recently, the reliance of the music media and scene on Soundcloud is looking more and more like a weakness. It has become what in war they would call a choke point. A choke point is a place where a small number troops can exact a maximum amount of frustration on an enemy. Think of it in terms of the human body. You punch someone in the arm and they can keep fighting you, you attack someone’s neck and they are pretty much fucked. The music industry’s over reliance on Soundcloud for the dissemination and promotion of music means that if it goes down, the whole thing goes down. This is a really bad way to operate though not unheard of. I mean, the internet basically revolves around Google, if it went down it would be really annoying. Thing is, Google never goes down. There are sometimes issues with individual parts of Google but it pretty much is the most stable thing on the Internet. Google no doubt realizes that this central position that it occupies means that it HAS to be stable. It success depends on it.
Soundcloud has obviously not realized this fact. It’s been fucked up for almost 3 hours now. DAD’s posting is at a standstill. This is fucking bullshit. If it happened just even once a year that would be fine. It happens all the time though. At least every few weeks which is unacceptable. Every time they change something in the site it causes some kind of problem. It’s as if they don’t test anything before implementing it. It makes no sense. They revamped their app last year rendering it almost unusable. Basic features were missing like being able to view the track info. These are the people we are trusting with the music industry. Every good system has redundancy built in. We need another platform or we risk serious consequences.
Also, these guys are kinda assholes. I think they are the only media sharing site or whatever it’s called to actually charge the creators of the content that draws people to the site for the privilege of uploading it. Youtube fucking pays you money. Also I’m paying what? More than $100 a year? For something that breaks down all the time? That’s silly. Especially since they are also going to charge listeners subscriptions and will be playing ads over the music that I have provided. Oh and they can also take down any remixes that I create even if I am providing them for free and part of the money I pay to Soundcloud actually goes to the record labels because they are now part owners. That leads me to my next point.
With all the clamping down on copyright infringement and the continued marginalization of it’s original user base, the bedroom producers and DJs, Soundcloud is no longer even fulfilling it’s role as a hub for creative people to come together and collaborate. Remixes have always been at the heart of dance music. I can totally understand pursuing people who share the original version of tracks without authorization but a remix that they are giving out for free? Makes no fucking sense. If anything it enhances the profile of the track. The recent hit “CoCo” by O.T. Genasis partly became so popular based on the slew of remixes that were made by producers of all types. Rather than being hurt, the song benefitted from this phenomenon. These remixes provide very useful tools for DJs looking for more club friendly versions of popular tracks. By chasing these people out, Soundcloud is poised to become a place where listeners passively consume tracks put out by record labels. It’s taking a step back from being something in the true spirit of the Internet to something like traditional radio but with an on demand aspect. A forum like Soundcloud used to be, is essential to the continued explosion of creativity that has taken place over the last decade in the electronic music scene.
That’s enough from me today.
UPDATE: SOUNDCLOUD HAS NOW BEEN DOWN FOR 5 HOURS! WTF? I GUESS NO ONE IS RELEASING MUSIC TODAY. YOU KNOW THAT ALBUM YOU’VE BEEN PLANNING TO PUT OUT FOR MONTHS? FUCK THAT.