Ok first things first. Instead of filling up our news feeds with gripes about the SoundCloud switch, start by following these simple instructions. It’s so easy even a caveman can do it.
In the upper right corner of the Soundcloud interface, click “More,” and then
click “Switch back to classic SoundCloud.”
Now step 2. Stop crying about the switch. We decided to delve a bit deeper into the debacle to take a look at the ins and outs of the new format and possibly, just maybe, try to see how it’s better than the old version. Check out what we’ve discovered about the new version, and then make an educated decision about whether to switch back or not.
Next SoundCloud: Breeze or Blunder? That. Is. The. Question…
What was musical exploration before SoundCloud? There’s Mixcloud where you can’t download anything, Mixriot with a hefty archive but boring design and membership fees to download, Pandora with decent customization but commercial interruptions, Groove Shark without enough variety in electronic music, and plenty more streaming services that really don’t offer the integrated ease, widespread uniformity or community setting that SoundCloud provides.
As the world’s “largest community of artists, bands, podcasters, and creators of music and audio,” the bottom line is: no music site can match the mighty SoundCloud. Lesbehonest, many artists have launched their careers through that lovely orange platform, and plenty more are in the process. The ever-elusive UZ, for example, has created a trapped out world of wingdings all off the free streaming and download site.
SoundCloud could be considered the original artist manager for small producers striving to get their name and their tunes heard. Anyone and everyone has uploaded to the service — maybe it was a mix, maybe a mashup, maybe even the new beatport top track — we have all been there.
Recently, however, as you are all well aware, the site upgraded to become Next SoundCloud – “The NEW SoundCloud.” Many of us are guilty of being resistant to change, even in our tech-driven, forever-upgrading world, and it takes a bit of time to get used to a newly redesigned interface that we once navigated with ease. So to make the transition a bit more fun for everyone, we decided to highlight some of the pros (and recognize a few cons) of the new features. So prepare your cranium for our wonderful analysis because your about to be educated.
At first this new addition might have felt off-putting – one moment you’re listening to something you intended to hear, and then all of the sudden you’re listening to something else involuntarily. Continuous Play makes SoundCloud a bit more like a “radio” streaming site with a mind of it’s own. But because the play continues onto music that is related to what you were just hearing, it’s an awesome way to discover new stuff you might love without even trying.
SoundCloud uses the phrase “seamless listening” to describe this feature because it also allows you to navigate away from the page you’re playing music from without actually ending the stream – you can keep up your search adventures while the track plays on. Not too shabby. Now you’ll never have to worry about being left alone in that awkward silence of your headphones. And you can just use the Waveform Button in the top right corner to find your way back to what you were originally listening to – no need to feel disoriented playa haters!
One way we can see how this has played out perfectly is in creating full length mixes. With a bit of extra work, now you can chop up your live sets into individual songs. For the sole Djs this doesn’t really matter since you’re playing everyone’s favorite tunes from other people’s production closets. For the seasoned producer the mix is gold! Market your mix in better ways than ever. Now you can link individual tunes to buy links, offer some for download, and still keep the unreleased under wraps. No more lame posting of trackslists in the comments section, it’s all built in!
Maybe one of the things we once loved about the “old” SoundCloud was it’s sleek simplicity. That lovely orange and white interface was quite welcoming and easy to use. Now with all the new additives, the site looks cluttered to some. The menu bar at the top makes things like your inbox and following stats stand out more…maybe that’s distracting, but maybe it’s also helpful?
The increase in “socialization” prominence, such as the tally on how many likes a post has, how many reposts, etc. is aligned with the heavy role social networking plays in music promotion, and that’s a whole other side to the debate. The cool thing about making sharing, reposting, and following info more visible is that it brings more opportunities for connection between users. Of course, whether you consider that kind of “systematized” connectivity a good thing or not is very debatable – almost in the same way that we all probably have a love/hate relationship with how Facebook operates to “bring people together.”
The one thing that we really think could be improved upon is the visibility of the post date – right now it’s practically hidden in the very top right corner in light grey, whereas in the Classic view it used to be placed in a much clearer and more obvious spot near the title of the post, so it was easy to tell if the track or mix was FRESH and posted only a few hours ago, or STALE and posted years ago.
With a minimal amount of navigational practice, the new interface is still extremely user-friendly. If you’re stuck on anything, there’s a handy SoundCloud blog post that gives you a mini-tour of the new version.
From reading some of the commentary in the blog from SoundCloud users, there’s plenty of legit concerns presented, however, we also think that some people are approaching the change with anger because they’re unwilling to accept something new and slightly unfamiliar.
Come on guys, just because you can’t find a way to download as many songs for free doesn’t mean it’s 12/21 just yet. When you saved up all your allowance to buy Ableton, did you go about it without watching a tutorial? Probably NOT. So just count to 10, take a deep breath and study up, explore, because we all know if you want to get gigs outside of your mum’s basement, you’re gonna need to learn how to use SoundCloud in all its upgraded glory. And if you’re using the site strictly for listening purposes, then this switch should be even easier for you to handle. Get familiar.
As a component of the Continuous Play feature, the addition of Related Sounds to each page is yet another way to find new music with ease. A point of debate is how closely related you actually think the suggested sounds are…but from what we have seen, it’s pretty on-point, and another great way to find new music without much effort.
Here’s where the questionable aspect of social networking really becomes obvious, and clearly SoundCloud is trying to keep up or compete with other social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Reposting feels a lot like ReTweeting, and the description SoundCloud provides for this new feature is a little heavy-handed: “Grow your audience by seeing your sounds shared across the community, or build a following around your excellent taste by reposting sounds into your own stream for others to discover.”
But of course, it all depends on IF and HOW you use it — it could just be another way to brag or puff up your online identity, or it could be a cool way to share tunes you’re loving with others. Overall, it’s a push to make users more conscious of following, the news feed, and what everyone else is hearing.
LIKE vs. FAVORITE vs. REPOST
Now instead of clicking “Favorite” you click “<3 Like” (there’s the Facebook lingo looming again), and your likes are organized very much the same way Favorites used to be. The thing about Reposting that’s a bit odd is how it’s replaced the publishing of “Favorites” to your Stream. SoundCloud claims reposting allows more “control” than “favoriting,” because with reposting “only the best of the best is shared, and your likes can be collated with much less worry of flooding your followers.”
This new feature is a bit reminiscent of Pandora and other such categorized music sites, but definitely with a more advanced and weighty archive. And there’s a lot more at our fingertips than just music in case you didn’t know that! For example, stream BBC World Service Radio, listen to Sports or University podcasts, and all kinds of other entertainment, learning, business and tech related content. Explore allows you to find your way to all of it.
COMMENTS, SPOTLIGHT, & USER FEEDBACK
One of the most prevalent complaints from users was how the timed comments feature was updated. People were not happy about the fact that it became so much harder to read the comments and see who said them. There was also some griping about the supposed “disappearance” of Spotlight, which was condensed as part of the User Profile. Here’s a comment from SoundCloud’s blog that a user posted right after the switch to Next, which articulates a lot of the issues:
Apparently all this the backlash prompted SoundCloud to follow up quickly with more updates, and here’s part of a recent blog post they wrote in response to all the negative feedback:
So with all that said, we are choosing to ADAPT. After nearly 2 weeks, we already have that warm, comfy feeling back when we login to our favorite streaming site. Whether you choose to stay with Next or go back to Classic, either way you’re still getting all the benefits of this amazing music community. And the best part is that both versions are integrated. But our friendly suggestion is to learn to embrace change and STOP TALKING ABOUT HOW YOU HATE SOUNDCLOUD. You know you still love it!