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Thursday
Aug122010

Seven Simple Steps For Getting More Listeners & Followers on Soundcloud

If you are a DJ or producer, I’m willing to wager that if you have been on the Internet any time over the past two years, you have heard of Soundcloud. As the company who promises to “move audio”, the service sounds like a lucrative bet for any budding musician. I mean, all you need to do is sign up for an account, upload a couple of your best mixes or original tracks, and hundreds of listeners or “fans” will flock to you, right?

Hate to say it, but it isn’t quite that easy.

Similar to many other online services fueled by social media, including YouTube and Twitter, the benefits you get out of Soundcloud are entirely based on the effort you put into it. Gaining the attention of listeners and followers actually requires a bit of dedication and engagement, and requires bringing more to the table than just having good musical content.

Here’s the good news: There are several easy things you can do right off of the bat to help establish your presence on Soundcloud, for free. Although most experienced Soundcloud users will probably find these tips obvious, they may come in handy to a newer user. 

1. Sign up for a paid account.

The vast majority of Soundcloud users are signed up for the free account. Although not having to pay a dime may work if you are just looking to privately exchange music with other producers, it has little benefit if you want to promote your work the masses. With each of your tracks on a strict diet of 100 downloads, coupled with a scant 2-hour upload limit (barely 2 mixes if you are a DJ), it won’t be long before the limitations of being a freeloader become apparent. Although it may seem expensive to sign up for the Lite or Solo accounts at first, look at it as an investment in yourself. 

Think about it this way: at one point, you probably spent money to have CD’s of your mixes pressed up to hand out at parties. I personally used to spend hundreds of dollars each year on hard copies of my own mix CD’s, only to learn (the hard way) that many of them would get thrown right in the trash by people who didn’t know (or care) about who I was. I should have just thrown the cash out of my pocket in the trash instead and saved my iMac’s CD burner some mileage! When I decided to sign up for the solo account I personally felt that it was justified because I am now only handing CD’s out to people I personally know, actually saving me money in the long run because I press up fewer hard copies. Personally I feel that if a DJ or producer can afford to spend money on new software, plug-ins, MP3’s, or vinyl, they should be able to swing the Lite or Solo accounts (about $40 and $100 per year respectively).  

2. Use a Favorites List

Want to know a surefire way to not gain any followers on Soundcloud? Show absolutely no interest whatsoever in what other people are doing. Soundcloud’s interface makes it easy to stream mixes at the click of a mouse without having to wait for them to download. Use the dashboard to see what the people you follow have uploaded, and go out of your way to save the ones you like to your favorites list. Using favorites is a great bookmarking tool. Because search is not (yet) possible on the iPhone version of Soundcloud, the best workaround to be able to listen to what I want is via the app’s instant ability to access my favorites list. (EDIT 8/13: Search has been added to the most recent update- I just never bothered to download it until today!) Plus, your friends will see that you took the time to favorite the mixes of theirs that you (hopefully) liked, making them more likely to return the favor down the road. 

3. Leave Comments

Once again, this all goes back to showing genuine interest in what other people are doing out there. Leaving comments in other people’s original tracks and mixes is a powerful tool, even more so than having a favorites list. This is because you have increased your visibility by leaving your mark in a song or mix that a number of people who don’t know or follow you are listening to. If you just so happen to say something interesting, they may be persuaded to check your Soundcloud page on the merit of a single comment. However, I’d like to emphasize the word “merit” here. You need to say something interesting or insightful when you leave your two cents. “Great track!” usually won’t cut it. Leave a comment about something specific you liked about the song. Or, if someone has a question they left, respond to it. Post a track I.D. on a mix that doesn’t have a tracklist. How about a link to a blog post you wrote promoting the song in question. All of these types of comments are constructive and can better help increase your presence on Soundcloud. You don’t have to leave comments on everything you listen to, but remember that each one you leave creates a potential path back to your page. 

4. Design an attractive avatar

I cannot stress enough how important good design is when it comes to solidifying your identity on Soundcloud. Now you can argue all you want about how the music should do the talking, but a well designed avatar can attract listeners subconsciously. Likewise, an ugly avatar that has no shortage of played-out bevel, emboss, and lens flare filters thrown all over it does the opposite! Whether your listeners realize it or not, it’s a guarantee they will assume a professionally designed logo will result in equally polished music, and vice versa. Crux Records is a perfect example of an eye-catching, elegantly-designed avatar.

An important thing to keep in mind however: be sure the design is optimized for thumbnail size. In many instances, your logo will be seen as a small box on either a followers list, or on the timeline of a song in you commented on, so it has to translate nicely both small and large. Using just two or three primary colors, an eye catching photo of yourself, minimal (prefrably zero) text, or simple patterns will help ensure an eye-pleasing avatar. And if you cannot design to save your life or afford to pay a professional designer, NO avatar is much better than a BADLY DESIGNED one!


5. Groups

Whatever type of music you like, there is bound to be a group set up specifically for it. There is no limit to which groups you can join, so why not link up with some other like-minded Soundclouders who you may not already know? The biggest benefit to groups is that you can submit your tracks and mixes to them, thus adding an additional channel to getting your work out there. If you are really ambitious, you can even start a group of your own. Just make sure it caters towards something unique and focused. For example, you are more likely to get devoted listeners if you started a group geared towards deep house producers from the southern California area, than you would if you just set up a general Techno group that had no geographic focus. Keep in mind that it does take awhile to get people to sign up and submit tracks to a newly formed group however.

6. Tagging, Tagging, Tagging

Another no-brainer. Tag every possible description you can with the songs that you upload. If you upload DJ mixes, be sure to tag them with the names of popular producers and record labels of the tracks they include. Always tag the genre of music as well. The more tags, the better. Tagging will instantly enhance your search ranking and visibility on Soundcloud. The majority of my listeners discovered my page through nothing more than a simple search to find songs that happened to be included in the mixes I uploaded.  

7. Widgets

We all know how inter-connected social media is nowadays. If you have a Facebook account or a blog, Soundcloud has several basic free widgets you can use on both. One of the widgts is basically a miniturized MP3 player with a tracklist beneath it, and the other is a dropbox which is useful if you are interested in having other people send their tracks to you. Although installing a Soundcloud player on facebook is pretty standard fare, keep in mind that you can customize the player for your blog or website. Try incorporating a color scheme that matches the interface of your site. By helping it blend in as opposed to it being intruding can help generate listeners. And worry not, the player will not automatically start playing when visiting the site. Soundcloud knows better than that! 

I am working on writing up a batch of additional tips for using Soundcloud which I will be sharing with you over the upcoming weeks. I have been talking with a local producer who has almost 2000 followers, as well as a developer who is working on developing an Android version of the app using the open source code. I’m hoping to get a chance to interview them and gain some potential insignt in how these true power users harness Soundcloud. Until then, have fun, and I hope these tips help get you on the right track!

PS: If anyone is interested, you can check my Soundcloud here.  

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Reader Comments (83)

Fantastic article! Commenting on another persons tracks is vital, but more important is the 'constructive' on 'in depth' element that gets forgotten along the way. Great work on covering the importance of that!

---------
Diesel Laws on Soundcloud

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiesel Laws

I definitely think it's a mistake to chase listeners and followers, like people trying to get more "friends" on Facebook. It's just meaningless - most people start following you only because they want you to listen to their tracks - they have no interest in your tracks. It's much more important to find people whose music you admire and follow them - even if its only 5 to 10 people - and start up a conversation with them, maybe even collaborate. But meaningless chasing of 1000 followers who don't care about your music, and joining 500 groups, is an exercise in futility. You just start looking at the numbers, not listening to the music.

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Thomas

it's easy to find people who start following 1000 people (WITHOUT SAYING A WORD) so 100 follows them, then unfollows the other 900.

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertipo

Yes, this whole "following" thing has become a nonsense. I wish SoundCloud would get rid of it, to be honest. It is devalued. It detracts from the music.

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Thomas

looking forward and respect for the time and work (we all) spend , trying to improve the quality , creativity and intelectual effort seeking the " Perfect Beat "

http://soundcloud.com/rvprofile

http://myspace.com/rvprofile

cheers !!

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterR.V.

Agree Diesel Laws :DD
And also u can make real Friends with this way ;)

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulian E.

I think I'm on the brink about following too many people too, I only go after the ones who's content I am purely interested in.

Without making this article too long winded, I also wanted to write a section about NOT sending un-soclicited mixes or tracks to groups of thousands of people as well (which many find very annoying and justifies the use of that new mute button they added!)

Even though most of these tips are rudimentary, thanks for reading and for the insight so far. Will be doing a second installment of soundcloud tips in the upcoming weeks.

August 12, 2010 | Registered Commenternickdawg

Nice tips,thanks!

http://soundcloud.com/fco_rmz

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterP4KO

Thanks for the great tips. Very useful. I totally agree that you get what you give...

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMojo

Amen to people bombarding you with tracks. You can turn off the function of receiving tracks from people. I only receive tracks from people I am following. I know it might seem basic but people miss that function go to settings and email and you can sort it out there.

hhtp://soundcloud.com/stuartbraybrooke

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Braybrooke

Thanks for the tips and tricks. Most plays I get from my page on Facebook and not on the profile on the Cloud.

By the way, finding good tracks that I can use in my mixes is not so easy even with all the current possibilities.

Regards GWsound.

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGWsound

That crux logo looks terrible

August 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCaspar

Does anyone do any podcasting with soundcloud? That's probably the next thing I would like to school myself in, if it's even possible. Would love to hear some input.

Thanks to residentadvisor for the referral!

August 14, 2010 | Registered Commenternickdawg

keyword/tag spamming is the worst thing about soundcloud! Don't tag your mixes with a tracklist! its means you get 100 crap ableton mixes everytime you search for an artist.

August 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjim

Great post thanks,

I love soundcloud but i find it absolutely staggering that there is no capability to order your tracks. What if you just signed up to a paid account with more space so you decide to upload some of your old material but don't want it to be the first thing that people see? This is not possible at the moment (filing tracks/mixes in sets solves this to a degree but you still cant change the order of the actual sets themselves)! I've seen countless forum threads of people complaining about this for over a year now and soundcloud havent responded with what surely would be a relatively easy feature to add. Poor.

Heres some of my mixes and tracks if you fancy checking them out...swing / house / funky biz http://www.soundcloud.com/kidshango

August 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkidshango

Thank you very much for compiling these posts.

August 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMoncler

Love the article. To toss in a little from the rafters.

Tagging: SoundCloud does not include the tags as keywords in meta-data, that means Google won't punish you for using more than 5 tags. W00t! As the Cloud just updated to make tag searching easier, this makes tags even more important. Keep 'em relevant though, or you'll end up with angry comments instead of followers. Peachy? One thing though is to include artist names from mixes/remixes in the description instead of the tags. Search will still locate them and it keeps the tags clean.

Widgets: This may just be my listeners, but I've found that embedding the Art Player gets more plays. Also, saying "Click the down-arrow to download" increased downloads. It provokes action. Clicky, clicky. I haven't tested it yet, but the next instruction I'm going to test is to tell them how they can embed it on their blog right from the player. I'm guessing it'll boost embeds as well.

Comments: I heard about this article when I got an email that I was in the article. I get it now. I'm the guy in the snapshot of the comments. Everyone's gotten the "nice track" comments and it's almost insulting. I try to give what I'd like to get, which is either relative understanding or an actionable critique. The first is a real connection (the core of social networking), while the latter is priceless for anyone trying to improve.

Followers: I see a lot of comments hear grumbling about mass followers. Right there with ya. The first thing I do when someone starts following me is check statistics (specifically the plays). If I find the person actually played some tracks, I'll look into 'em further. If it turns out they're a quality (or promising) producer, I'll definitely follow 'em back.

Cheers... 'n I'll see y'all in the clouds.
~Jaya Prime, http://soundcloud.com/jaya-prime

August 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJaya

I use soundcloud for the podcasts on my website .... works and does get quiet a few listeners... but only a few people started following ... but then again i don't have much time to check peoples stuff and comment and i think that that is essential to boost followers....

good points and thanks to Ra for linking this up

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersuppie

Great post, even if it's basic stuff so many people miss the principle of talking, not preaching to your community.

September 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSean Linman

^Thanks Sean...I'm not into the whole preachy sounding angle either; I know it can make for interesting content but that just doesn't reflect what I feel my personality is in real life.

September 2, 2010 | Registered Commenternickdawg

1) Thanks for this - I am now off to give soundcloud a (2nd) go and see if it is any good for musicians as well as djs (sorry - do djs call themselves musicians? I have no idea ... but I am cool with it if so ;-)

2) I love that you dont have a compulsory email address for the comments - why is this usually so ubiquitous?

September 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSeamus Anthony

I agree with the comment about re-ordering your tracks or mixes, this is a simple function that should be incorporated. Cant see why not really! The help team seem quite good though. I had to ask how to do something a few months ago and they came back personally. Gave me a community feeling rather than a corporate one.

The whole follower/following issue is a mixed feelings for me. In a true 'community', everybody would follow and support everybody, which I reckon would be great because there really is enough in this world to go round. In the current capitalist world though, some people see following as an opportunity to get something for themselves and nothing else. Pity!

In honesty, I have been gulity of the above too at times lol! I reckon a lot of us have. I do always aim to promote others though, and strangely enough there are some lovely people who do favours for me of things I didnt even know exist, let alone have asked for!

So keep sharing peeps!

Bless :)

October 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrockney Cee

Certainly agree with Andrew Thomas. Chasing followers is meaningless. Follow and engage local/regional/national/international artists that share your interests and interact and comment on their pages and music.

On that note, check out and follow me on soundcloud.
http://www.soundcloud.com/djaudiomind

October 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAUDIOMIND

Addendum to my original comment: The new tag-sorting system changed more than just tags. I had said that including artists in the description that were used in a mix would pull up that mix when searched for. This is no longer the case. That means back to putting the artists in the tags so that searches pull up the mix. The description is still logged by Google, so a Google search will pull it up if it's in the description, but no longer when searching in SoundCloud. They've gone back and forth on this one a few times now. Who knows what the future holds. Cheers!

October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJaya

new sound uploaded: "don´t bite the apple "

http://soundcloud.com/rvprofile/ahrvee-dont-bite-the-apple

online on - http://mysp.ac/4xz0iN _ http://mysp.ac/gpbJft

check it !!

December 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterR.V. (aka) ahrvee

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