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Now there’s a real alternative to SoundCloud

Over the last few weeks I’ve talked a lot about the issues I’m having with SoundCloud and I think it’s only fair to say that I’m not the only one too. Add to that the current rumours around a possible purchase by Spotify, which could generate some serious changes, if indeed it does go ahead.

I’ve also posted about a few of the possible alternatives to SoundCloud, but one that I haven’t really talked about in detail is Orfium. I’ve been watching Orfium for a while now. Looking at what they’re doing and where they seem to be going, and I’ve been very hopeful about their direction. So just the other week I decided to get in touch with them and have a serious chat about what they were about and about their proposition for a community like ours in the mobile music world.

I have to start by saying that I was more than pleasantly surprised. In fact I’d go as far as saying I was really impressed with not only what they’re doing, but also with what they’ve got planned too. On top of that, Orfium was actually very easy to talk to (not so with all services in this space), and also very open to ideas.

So now seems like a good time to talk in more detail about what Orfium has to offer for the mobile music community and why I think that it looks like one of the best options for mobile music people to switch to. Let’s start with why Orfium is worth taking a look at in the first instance. The simplest start point here is to check out this comparison:

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Now of course you can argue that Orfium is a lot smaller than SoundCloud is right now and that without a significant user base there isn’t going to be the same level of community and possible interaction. True, I won’t argue with you there, but without people moving over to Orfium, or at the very least giving it a try that’s always going to be the case. Which is why I’ve now set up on Orfium, and as soon as they’ve got their groups functionality I’ll get a group set up for mobile music. Yes, that’s right, they’re implementing groups! One of the most recent issues that we’ve all had with SoundCloud, the removal of groups, is not going to be a problem with Orfium!

Now that’s got to be a good reason to take a look. But there’s more, lots more. Let’s take this one feature at a time and make a detailed comparison.

But before we move on let’s dwell for a moment on that issue of user base. Whilst it’s true that Orfium is just starting out and that we, as a community, should get behind them (in my view). It’s also fair to say that from a monetisation perspective their user base is not an issue. If, for example, you take YouTube monetisation then this is not restricted by Orfium’s size at all. It’s worth remembering that.

Let’s move on and take a look at some of the areas where Orfium really excels:

80% artist pay out
This is about as high as it gets and I don’t think that you can argue with it really, especially when you look at what others have to offer.

Remix monetisation
This is an unusual feature, but quite welcome I think, and one that will make sense and be useful to a lot of readers.

Distribution terms
It’s up to you the artist, you choose, free or priced all within the same platform without having to add links to out where you can buy the track. I like this a lot, and for me personally it works just the way I want.

Rights management
Now this is probably one of the most interesting parts of the platform. Orfium is actually is a digital rights platform built to facilitate a social network for musicians. This makes Orfium a real choice for someone looking not only to get their work heard, but also to get paid for it fairly. That’s a very powerful feature in my book. Add to that non-exclusive publishing, micro-licensing, sync-licensing and creative commons licensing service options. It all adds up to a very powerful service for hosting your music. Add to that the current issues in the world of licensing and it really is a better way forward.

So what else? There’s more …
For now Orfium has no iOS or Android apps. When I say for now I mean for now. Orfium has these in their plan and their working toward getting these out there and into the hands of users.

But it doesn’t stop there at all. There’s plenty more coming too. But that’s for another day, as I can’t tell you everything that Orfium are doing or have planned. But let me sum up by saying that I think that what they’re doing and where they’re going is right for musicians, iOS, mobile or otherwise and I think that it adds up to a real alternative that we should all take a look at and think very seriously about moving to.

To finish off it’s worth mentioning that Orfium offers unlimited free hosting, and they have special accounts for record labels and distributors (add to that they’re working on special accounts for publishers and curators). Orfium only take a percentage of revenue when the music actually generates revenue, meaning there are no upfront costs (as well as no long-term contracts).

In my view Orfium is a real alternative to SoundCloud and they’re moving forward with new features that truly serve the artist community. Go try it and tell me what you think.

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Goodbye SoundCloud Groups

Today is the day that they go, or at least that’s what I thought. I just opened up my account and all my groups are still there right now. Perhaps they’ll all be gone by the end of today. Who knows. Whatever happens I thought it would be good to mark the removal of a feature we all used a lot in the mobile music community.

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Dear SoundCloud, exactly what is going on?

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It’s only fair to say that SoundCloud have not been quite as popular over the last year or more with the iOS mobile music community, or indeed creators of audio anywhere. From my own perspective I’ve kept a Pro account, but I’ve not been impressed by SoundCloudGo, or indeed their approach to musicians. The strategy seems confused at best and the latest set of news about SoundCloud doesn’t help at all.

I’ll start off with SoundCloud Groups

I got this email from them a week ago …

“We’re constantly looking for ways to make it easier for you to share your work and connect with new fans. As well as adding new features and updates, we review existing features to see if they’re still beneficial to you.

As we dug into the best ways for creators to connect with fans, we found that Groups aren’t helping creators find an audience as well as reposts, curated playlists, or track recommendations.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to phase out Groups on Monday, August 22nd to make room for future updates. Until then, you can collect, like or repost the tracks you would like to save, and connect with your fellow Group members.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can continue to improve your experience on SoundCloud. Send your ideas and feedback by replying directly to this email.”

This is a major issue as far as I’m concerned. Groups were a great way for users of different apps to collect work together. Some had been incredibly successful like the Figure Addicted group. I can’t understand SoundCloud’s reasoning for removing groups, and what they say in their email I don’t agree with. It’s poor and, in my view, will force more users away from their platform.

But they have added ‘albums’

I’m not sure just how this is different from playlists aside from the name. I’m not sure what it adds in reality, and, given that they’re removing groups, it doesn’t compensate at all in my view. You may think differently. If you do I’m interested to know your reasons.

Finally, they’re up for sale

If nothing else this makes me think that they’re going to end up as part of a bigger service and forget about people creating audio altogether, and more than likely just be swallowed up and disappear. That is of course if they even find a buyer. According to this piece at hypebot their valuation is $1bn, which is, in my opinion, ridiculously high.

I think they’ll struggle at that high a valuation and have to drop down. If they do get sold they’ll have to adapt to a new master and that won’t be good for any of us at all.

So, what now? What next?

I’ve posted before about alternatives to SoundCloud, and I think that these are going to become all the more important in the coming months. Personally I’ll be looking for more and more ways to move my audio to other more artist friendly platforms, and I’ll be sharing possibilities with you regularly.

Also there are a few new platforms and technologies that I’m working with that I expect to be useful in taking up the slack from SoundCloud’s slow withdrawal from supporting artists. I’ll be talking about those soon I hope.

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So Twitter has invested in SoundCloud?

I find this an interesting development in the ongoing SoundCloud saga. According to hypebot they’ve invested $70 million in SoundCloud as part of a $100 million round.

I’m still hoping that SoundCloud will turn things around. I’d like to think that it’s going to reestablish itself as the service we all wanted it to be.

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So will SoundCloud’s subscription service turn things around for them?

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You’ve probably heard about SoundCloud’s new subscription service, SoundCloud Go. They posted about it on their blog and emailed account holders too. It’s a big deal for them, but nothing that we weren’t expecting really. So far the new subscription service is only available in the US, which is understandable really as it’s probably their biggest market. But the big question is, will it work? That’s the massive question actually, and one I’m sure that they’ve spent an enormous amount of time thinking through.

But what does this mean for the likes of us who regularly use SoundCloud with our apps and music? Well I have to say that I don’t think they’ve made it entirely clear as yet. From their somewhat less than helpful ‘help pages’ it seems that unless you’re a premier artist (a status that is currently only available by invite only right now) you won’t get anything at all. The ‘On SoundCloud’ programme will apparently open up at some point but they’re not clear about the actual timescales for that as yet.

So for now it appears that as a creator you’ll only have the ability to choose as to whether or not your tracks are available for offline listening, but no cash. Not for a while anyway unless you’re lucky enough to get the special invite.

As far as I’m concerned that doesn’t sound amazing from a creator’s perspective. More importantly it doesn’t mention anything about SoundCloud Pro users. I had thought that maybe they’d make some kind of offer for existing SoundCloud Pro users seeing as how we already pay to be Pro users. However, I can find no mention of that anywhere so far. All I can assume is that you have to pay for both, which can’t be right can it?

Finally I’d like to have a think about whether or not users, whether they’re creators or listeners or both, will actually pay for it. From a personal perspective I know that it isn’t something I’d be willing to pay for, certainly now without some kind of significant discount for already being a Pro user anyway. That’s one stumbling block and I doubt that I’m the only Pro user who would feel that way. The next issue is that lots of people already have streaming service accounts elsewhere. Yes, it’s almost certainly true to say that they won’t have access to the same range of music if their using Spotify or Apple Music.

I know that it’s early days so far, but I’m not sure that this is the ray of hope for SoundCloud that I’d wished for. Perhaps it’ll improve, perhaps more will become clear in the following days and weeks. I really hope so anyway.

Anyway, those are my views for now, what do you think?

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SoundCloud Pulse for iOS has finally arrived

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After what seems like a very long wait, it has finally arrived on iOS. Here’s what SoundCloud’s Pulse will do:

Are you a creator? If you make music, podcasts or anything else audio and upload your work to SoundCloud, this app will let you manage your account and keep your community humming.

You’ll need a SoundCloud account to access SoundCloud Pulse. Don’t have one yet? Download the SoundCloud app or go to SoundCloud.com to create one.

KEY FEATURES

  • Reply to comments on your tracks, on the go
  • Get up-to-date stats on the performance of your tracks
  • Share the sounds you’ve uploaded, both publicly and privately
  • Follow other SoundCloud users
  • Delete comments and block users

SoundCloud Pulse is free on the app store: