What is SoundCloud and how does it work?

Introduction to SoundCloud

SoundCloud is a social network that is used primarily for the distribution of audio tracks.  If you think about a social network like Pinterest or Instagram as sharing the world in pictures and/or videos, then think of SoundCloud as sharing the world in sounds.

Sound designer Alexander Ljung and recording artist Eric Wahlforss came up with the idea for SoundCloud in Sweden in 2007, originally as a way for musicians to share their music and ideas with each other.  But it wasn't until they incorporated in Germany later that year that SoundCloud became what it is today.  So what is SoundCloud today?  It's one of the world's largest online distribution platforms for original music and audio recordings, with over 175 million unique monthly visitors and over 12 hours of total audio being uploaded by contributing artists every minute.

How does SoundCloud work?

There are two general types of people who use SoundCloud: those who want to promote their music and audio tracks, and those who want to listen to said audio tracks.

Contributors to SoundCloud

Contributors can post and organize their music on SoundCloud for other people to hear, and track the demographics of people who listen to it.  They can also provide links for listeners to buy and/or download their music, and publish updates on their other social media accounts whenever they post new music on SoundCloud.  Some even allow listeners to use their music in certain ways.

SoundCloud listeners

People who listen to audio tracks on SoundCloud can comment on what they listen to, or share it over their other social media accounts.  They can also spread the music that they like over SoundCloud by reposting it to their own profile, marking tracks as "favourites", or posting tracks to a group.  They can even create their own custom playlists, and sometimes even download songs that others have posted on SoundCloud.

How to use SoundCloud

Browse for music and audio tracks to listen to

What's your taste in music?  Classical?  Pop?  Rock?  Hip-hop?  Or perhaps you aren't into music at all, and would rather listen to an audiobook, an informational program, or a stand-up comedy routine.  Browse SoundCloud for popular audio, or explore a genre that suits your likes or mood.

Browsing SoundCloud by track category

Listen to audio tracks, plus so much more

Sure, listening to music is fun, but why stop there?  Speak your mind by adding a comment to an audio track, mark it as a "favourite", add it to a playlist, or share it over your other social network accounts.  You may even be able to download a complimentary copy of the track, so you can play it anywhere, anytime!

Various SoundCloud track options

Hear music your way by creating custom playlists

Unleash your inner D.J. by creating your own playlists of songs.  Want a set of music that's all by your favourite artist?  Or maybe you'd like a mix of songs from a certain genre.  Or maybe there's some other pattern that you want a specific collection of audio tracks to follow.  Share your playlist with other SoundCloud users, or keep it to yourself.  It's totally up to you!

Form for creating a SoundCloud playlist

Use simple search functions to find something specific

If you're looking for something particular on SoundCloud, you can search for it.  Whether it's an audio track, user, playlist, or group, SoundCloud's search functions will help you track it down (no pun intended).  You may even be able to use some filtering options to help, such as the length of a track or how long ago someone joined SoundCloud.

SoundCloud search categories and filters

Join groups of audio enthusiasts for exclusive tracks

If you're into a particular artist or genre of music, there may be a group for that on SoundCloud.  Join a group and share tracks with all of your group members, and see what neat tunes they have to offer as well!

How to join, leave, or contribute to a SoundCloud group

Spice up your profile and show of your persona

SoundCloud is partially a social network, so be social!  Pick a display picture, backdrop, and user name for your profile, and then include a little bit more about yourself.  Where are you from?  What kinds of music do you like?  What are your other hobbies?  Do you have a website that other people can visit? You can reveal as much -- or as little -- as you want.

Editing your SoundCloud profile


Well, that's a brief explanation of what SoundCloud is all about.  Next, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of the service, so stay tuned!


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