In December 2014 the company reported 175 million unique listeners per month using their service. Next Big Sound reportedly tracked a total of 2.4 billion users on the platform in it’s lifetime. The platform has become the go-to for consumption of mostly electronic music, DJ mixes, podcasts and niche dance releases. Because of their grey-area copyright policy, it’s also one of the few places on the web where unofficial remixes and bootlegs still thrive.
It’s relevance and contribution to online music consumption is undeniable. And that is exactly why it is important for you as a musician, electronic music producer or DJ to be adept at using it.
Soundcloud has been the cornerstone of growth for our artists San Holo and Ark Patrol, as well as for our label Heroic. I want to share a number of simple tips with you that you can use to supercharge your Soundcloud game.
Besides having great music, it is important that you develop a content strategy that allows your Soundcloud channel to generate momentum. You need to stay above the noise – and you do that by uploading consistently.
The noise is the result of a never-higher supply of music. Barriers to creation are at an all-time low, as producing a track is only the download of DAW like Ableton or Fruity Loops away, whereas the barrier to distribution is non-existent.
Our finding is that it is best to upload one piece of content a month, ideally with a four week interval between the previous upload. This allows you to generate traction with a release and then when the next one comes out, your ‘hype’ level will not have fallen all the way back to the bottom, but instead picks up on a higher point than before.
The more momentum you generate, the more buffer you have. Bigger acts can justify putting out a 3-4 track EP and then have 6-10 weeks of nothing. You need to give the right content room to breathe, but only if the driving force of attention is already there.
Slingshot Your Content.
It’s unlikely for tracks that are uploaded to Soundcloud to go viral without any marketing effort.
On rare occasions an exceptional piece of music will get picked up by Soundcloud’s community. But for the majority of success stories, virality and plays is the result of extensive planning and having an already established audience. Still, I commonly see great artists put out great content, only to fall short on the marketing dimension – leading to the releases falling flat.
An important habit to develop when releasing music, is to always have a number of marketing efforts in place that will ‘slingslot’ your content into exposure.
When looking at big artists, these are the pre-release press campaigns, billboards, super-bowl announcements and other gimmicks. But that’s not to say you can not do the same on a smaller scale.
A simple way to guarantee exposure for a release is to coordinate premieres with music promo channels on YouTube and written blogs. Reach out to them long before the release, offering them the exclusive right on the first-ever publication in their category, then coordinate each of them to publicize on your release date. Couple that with the reposts of a number of taste-makers on Soundcloud, or even producer friends with existing audiences, and you’ll have a blast of exposure that reinforces itself. Be wary of paid SoundCloud reposts though, more on that here, and here. All of this can be summed up as influencer marketing. a more efficient way of getting a lot more exposure.
Genre Tag Correctly.
Explore is the name of Soundcloud’s music discovery system, which is available from the ‘home’ tab on the website and displays the hottest content in a variety of genres. It indexes content based on its popularity and keyword.
Soundcloud’s indexing algorithm works in such a way that only the first keyword entered on an upload is taken into account when determining the explore categories. All other keywords are only for search purposes and it’s even speculated that an excess is detrimental to overall find-ability. The first keyword is also the only one displayed on the visual player.
When choosing keywords, be conscious about the fact that only specific keywords will be indexed by Soundcloud. A track with a keyword tag ‘electronic’ will be taken into consideration for the electronic category in Explore, ‘dubstep’ for the dubstep category, and so on. There also seems to be an algorithm in place that recognizes certain types of music, but you’re much better off to smartly decide on your category.
Slick Minimal Bio.
Two years ago it used to be the trend for artists to have extensive biographies on their social accounts, be it Facebook, Soundcloud or elsewhere. Today, in an online landscape where content speaks louder than anything, people appreciate minimalism.
Minimal and to-the-point biographies have become the standard across all social channels, perhaps including just a quote of the artists, an email address for themselves, management and agents, and their social links. The long-form stuff is a thing of the past, only still used in press releases and kits.
I suggest you do the same. Create a bio that people can glance at to get a gist of what you do, add an email in there and tag potential collaborators and label’s you’ve released with. You can create active hyperlinks within the platform by typing ‘@username’. These also work in your biography. Keep links to your social platforms out, instead add them using the link fields.
Like these tips?
The second edition of my book, The Soundcloud Bible, has just come out. It is expanded by 30%, reflects all Soundcloud’s latest changes and teaches you strategies to grow your audience, get more plays, features on blogs and potential label deals.