How to Use SoundCloud to Share Your Recorded Tracks

By Ryan C. Williams, Mike Levine

SoundCloud doesn’t just provide a central site hosting millions of hours of music (although it does that well). The site doesn’t offer social links, allowing you to follow your favorite artists and share posted tracks with those users that follow you (although it handles that task with ease).

SoundCloud takes this functionality and wraps it with the ability to use widgets (bits of code that embed music on other sites) to share posted tracks all over the Internet, using social networks, websites, and mobile apps alike. SoundCloud basically allows you to share your music with the world and let the world take over from there.

Reviewing the types of accounts

You can sign up for a SoundCloud account easily enough — just go over to SoundCloud’s website and open an account like any other social network. The basic free account lets you interact with SoundCloud users and upload up to three hours of audio at no charge.

You can upgrade to Pro or Unlimited status, which gets you extra hours of uploads. But you also get more access to information about the folks who listen to your music, how you can present your music to your listeners, and more control over how your listeners can interact with your account. This structure represents a similar take on the “freemium” structure adopted by mobile apps. So why would you want to upgrade?

  • You’re incredibly prolific and want to post more than three hours of music.

  • You want to know how and when your listeners listen so you can better target them. This means knowing if a geographic location contains a lot of fans for a tour stop or if a social network like Twitter hosts a lot of chatter about your music so you can join in on the conversation.

Otherwise, you can probably stick with the free account for the time being. This account lets you perform the basic sharing and conversation tasks you need to start getting your music out.

Uploading your tracks

After you create your account, you can upload tracks to SoundCloud in two different ways:

  • Export the final track to your computer and upload that track to SoundCloud via your web browser.

  • Upload the track directly to SoundCloud from the music app you used to create it.

The best method to use depends on your situation. If you have the time to run your track through several different apps, then export a high quality final track and move it to your computer, that might present the best option for you. However, if you’re in the field and want to upload your file for immediate release, go ahead and make your move. You can even record audio directly from your mobile SoundCloud app.

The audio quality of your SoundCloud files depends on how you intend to distribute them. SoundCloud permits both streaming and downloads, and the downloadable files don’t change their file format or resolution. You can use huge uncompressed files like AIFF or WAV, lossless compressed files like FLAC or ALAC, or lossy compressed files like MP3, AAC, or WMA (among others).

The only thing SoundCloud doesn’t do is charge for tracks. You can do just about anything from this site but sell your music.

If you stream your audio, though, every track becomes a 128 Kbps MP3 file. No matter what file format you initially used, SoundCloud transcodes that file to the new format.

To avoid compressing the same track twice, make sure you upload uncompressed files for songs you wish to allow downloads for. SoundCloud will transcode the file anyway, so make sure you give it the best possible starting point.

If the app you used to record your track allows direct posting to SoundCloud, the process becomes pretty simple for you. The SoundCloud export option usually appears after you finish your recording. For example, after you make a recording in Loopy HD, you can tap the SoundCloud button.

image0.jpg

Sign into your SoundCloud account to see the options.

image1.jpg

The name, location, and image fields of the track are easy enough to understand. So take a look at the switches under those fields.

The Public/Private switch lets you determine who can listen to your track. Public makes your music available to the world, whereas Private posts it for your use only. You can also add email addresses that let you offer access to other listeners.

The Add/Don’t Add switch lets you link your tracks to the Loopy group in SoundCloud, so other users of the app can listen and comment on your work. SoundCloud hosts many, many groups — some associated with genres, some with apps (Korg Gadget also offers a user group with rankings and other features), some with no connection to reality. Finally, you can link other social networks to your app to automatically create tweets or posts when you post a new track.

Sharing the music

Even if you don’t automatically alert your social networks when you first post a track to SoundCloud, you can sound the alarms once you’re ready. For example, maybe you finally want to share a private track with the world. When you’re ready, open your mobile SoundCloud app and navigate to the track you wish to share.

image2.jpg

Tap the icon, enter your social network credentials as needed, and post the track. All of your fans and followers can now access and share your tracks with their friends as well.

This point is where SoundCloud hopes you’ll pay for the Pro or Unlimited accounts — they know who is playing your track and where, but they want you to pay for that knowledge. You’ll have to decide for yourself if this price is worth it.

SoundCloud can (and will) pull down any tracks that use material from copywritten material. Do it too much, and you could be faced with a suspended account. Use only material you have permission to use.