SoundCloud.com is one of the most popular website choices for people who want to listen to music from independent or up-and-coming artists. It's free to use, and some songs can even be downloaded for free. It doesn't just include songs, either; you can find recordings like stand-up comedy routines, lectures, and audiobooks on SoundCloud, too. Or you can dive into the social aspects of SoundCloud, such as creating a unique profile, or commenting on and sharing SoundCloud tracks with friends and "groups". The main drawbacks of SoundCloud are that commercials and advertisements can interrupt songs while you're listening to them, the search system isn't that great, and that you won't find too many tracks from popular mainstream artists.
If SoundCloud isn't the right website for you in terms of getting your independent music and audio fix, here are seven other websites or apps that you can use instead of SoundCloud.
After SoundCloud partnered with copyright screening company ZEFR, some users had their music taken off the website without warning... and, in some cases, without cause. Those who felt that they were being treated unfairly left SoundCloud and joined this British-based website instead. It is very similar to SoundCloud, in that it allows users to upload original song remixes, news talk programs, informational lectures, and more. In addition, content can be shared within "groups", as well as over other social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. There is no limit to the file size of songs that can be uploaded to MixCloud, but unlike SoundCloud, MixCloud has no functionality for downloading other people's songs.
Another SoundCloud alternative that is often mentioned side-by-side with MixCloud, MixCrate is based in California. The major difference between it and SoundCloud or MixCloud is that MixCrate caters specifically to music remixes (as opposed to other forms of audio). Other than that, it is similar to the two aforementioned websites; it allows people to listen to remixes and "like" them, comment on them, add them to playlists, share them on other social media networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus), and sometimes even download them! Plus, users can "follow" each other and be notified of their activity, such as uploading music, or giving out a "like" or comment. Unlike SoundCloud, there is no limit to the amount of music that users can upload to MixCrate, but each remix cannot take up more than 190 megabytes of memory storage.
Like other alternatives to SoundCloud, BandCamp is a platform for people to upload and share music, either on BandCamp itself or on various social media websites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Tumblr). Those who come to BandCamp looking to listen to music can do so for free, and they can often download the songs that they listen to, as well. What makes BandCamp different is that users who upload music can sell it, or at least ask for donations; BandCamp also provides artists with links to other merchandise that they are selling, so listeners can support them further.
This balance of free and paid content has made BandCamp an attractive sales and promotion platform for a lot of independent artists. Some artists have abandoned their recording contracts to sell music exclusively on BandCamp, and many independent video game developers have released their game soundtracks for sale on BandCamp.
As a video-centered website, you probably wouldn't think of YouTube as a hub for independent music. Yet a considerable number of people use YouTube as an alternative to SoundCloud, dedicating a channel to uploading their own original music as videos, usually with just a static picture or two in the background. You can listen to said music for free, but you can't download it. YouTube also has some of the same troubles that SoundCloud does in terms of heavy-handed copyright policies.
This website like SoundCloud uses a system called the "Music Genome Project", a comprehensive analysis of what it is about certain songs that people like. Pick a genre, band, or song, and Pandora will create a custom "radio station" (up to 100 of them) that will play songs that are musically similar. You can further customize a station by telling Pandora which songs you like or dislike. Pandora is free to use, but has an upgraded subscription service called Pandora One (which costs about $5 per month or $55 per year) that allows you to listen commercial-free and skip songs more often. Due to copyright issues, Pandora is currently only available in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.
Apple's famous media management program can be used in place of SoundCloud, too. In addition to letting you purchase and organize music, it also lets you listen to Internet radio for free. You can even purchase and download movies and TV show episodes. It's not as heavily slanted towards independent music as SoundCloud is, but you might be able to find a few up-and-coming artists in the iTunes shop. Though one thing's for sure... you're not going to find many songs that you can download for free.
Apple Music is sort of an extension of iTunes, or perhaps a replacement for it. It allows users to listen to music tracks commercial-free, and get recommendations based on their listening patterns. It also features Internet radio stations curated by celebrity DJs and other musicians, as well the "Connect" blog feature that lets artists post exclusive content for their fans to see and hear. Apple Music comes with a free three-month free trial, but then costs about $10 per month afterward (or $15 per month for a family-wide subscription).
If you have used any of these SoundCloud competitors, or know any others that you think our users would like, let us know in the comments section or on our social media pages. And if you want to use one of these websites like SoundCloud exclusively, our last tutorial will show you how to delete your SoundCloud account.
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