Features We Wish Soundcloud Would Implement

Image via SoundCloud
Image via SoundCloud

In the past, we’ve been vocal about what we disliked about the “new” SoundCloud. We can’t help it; if there’s a service that we use more than most (which, if you check most of the audio posts on DAD, you’ll see we spend a lot of time with SoundCloud streams playing), and it wasn’t really “broken,” we weren’t sure why they decided to “fix” it. What’s interesting is that the “fixes” they introduced have been hit or miss. Some things have been improved upon, while other bits have us scratching our head. We doubt that the SoundCloud team is done revamping the service, so instead of griping about what’s there, we figured it might make sense to run down some features we feel could exponentially benefit “new” SoundCloud.

Top lists
For bloggers and for fans, it would be incredibly beneficial to have a look at who the most followed users are and what the most listened to and/or favorited tracks are. To take it a step further, it would be great if we could see that kind of info for various time periods and for certain tags or genres.

A way to automatically link to songs when making a tracklist for a mix
SoundCloud is not known to be particularly hospitable towards DJ mixes, but a step in the right direction might be to give users a simple, streamlined way to make tracklists and then link to the pages of those tracks and their artists without ever having to leave the page that they are on. Sort of similar to the way that Mixcloud does tracklists. This is the kind of feature that would benefit both listeners and DJs/producers.

One of the most timesaving things about places like YouTube and Mixcloud is their timespamp features. Integrating something like that into SoundCloud would be great, especially when listening to mixes when there may just be one track that we want to listen to.

Filters for the stream
For those of us who are into a wide-ranging assortment of genres and artists, it would be a godsend to have the ability to customize multiple streams to match different groups of artists and genres. Bloggers in particular are notorious for getting sidetracked when using SoundCloud. A feature like this would greatly help to narrow our focus and save us the pain in the ass of having to juggle multiple SoundCloud accounts.

Reposts to not land on artist streams
Some of us at DAD are musicians, and we don’t hit the repost button.  It’s because this shows up on our audio streams, and can confuse visitors as to what content is ours. Similarly, we wouldn’t repost a record from the Do Androids Dance account that wasn’t landing on our account.  The repost should blindly designate itself to the stream.

Accurate timestamps on reposts
We pride ourselves on having the jump on content, and certainly use SoundCloud as a resource for fresh audio.  So imagine how giddy we get when there’s a dope record that we want to get up that landed freshly in my reposts that’s tagged as if its two minutes old… and how disappointing it is when we realize that it’s three months old.  Reposts should show how old the tracks actually are.  When the tracks were reposted is unimportant information.

A shuffle feature for songs you’ve liked
So we’ve liked 400 songs on SounCloud in the past couple of years.  We’re in the mood to give these tunes a listen, and the only option that we have is to listen to them in the order that we liked them.  It seems silly that there isn’t a shuffle feature to keep us engaged with the content that we’ve curated on the site.

Custom skins for all pro users
Why do labels and artists get cool custom skins that we don’t have access to?  Particularly with pro accounts, this is a slap in the face.  DAD is footing the bill for their most expensive package, and have reached out to reputable DJs to provide weekly mixes at no cost to listeners.  Can we get a banner with our logo on it?

Ability to keep likes private
As a blogger, the thirst is real.  We spoke on the importance of keeping likes private, but as our site has effectively exploded since that was published, it’s a point that should be revisited.  We don’t want people to know what songs I’ve liked. We don’t want other bloggers to get the jump on tunes or artists that I am evaluating.  Outside of creating a fake account, we have no way of moving in silence.

We’d love to go to a tab on SoundCloud and see what’s trending in different genres.  Sure, it’s cool that they have sports, books, and news on their “Explore” section, but to offer nine genres on a music site (one of which is called “urban,” a word that should have been done away with decades ago) is a disservice.  Our issue with Beatport is that they don’t have their pulse on the music that’s placed on their sites, and that people simply tag different genres in an effort to claim they had a charting single.  But nowhere on these Internets can we simply see what’s trending in electro or moombahton, and that’s pretty annoying.

  • DJ Todd G

    Personally, I don’t like the new Soundcloud format and always switch back to the old one and will do so until that’s taken away….I just find it much more user-friendly and simple

    • http://www.rockthedub.com/ khal

      I was the same way but I just hunkered down and got through the new(er) version.

      • DJ Todd G

        The funny thing is when you go to check your stats for plays, dl’s etc., its still in the old format. I was the same with Beatport until I finally gave in lol

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      My problem with internet life is that we’re now always awash in a whitewater rapid of new information. It’s difficult to latch onto things–genres, “movements” (if they still exist at all)–because five seconds later they’ve been pushed downstream.

      Soundcloud’s “new” version is that problem writ large. Sure, it puts things in front of me I might not have heard otherwise (the repost feature is especially helpful in that regard), but then it diminishes the import of everything because it’s all moving so fast. What was once a “event” mix, for example, is now one more drop in the flow, suddenly gone, like tears in rain (lol, sorry).

      I get it that playing favorites kills the format (because then you’re stuck with a shitty Itunes-like top 10 for weeks on end), but it would be cool if popular tracks would wash dowstream less rapidly.

  • Andrew van Duivenbode

    Great list, feedback like this is what the Soundcloud people will need to improve the service.

    The good thing about Soundcloud is that they allow developers like me to write apps that add the features that Soundcloud doesn’t have so a lot of this can already be done with a bit of API programming.

    • Xavier Mafe

      What are the limits of what could be done given the open API? Would a developer or group of developers be better off just starting their own service elsewhere?

  • Martin Davis

    I use Soundcloud a lot but find it one of the most difficult sites to use. It also locks up songs which wont play for some reason. I recently went back to the old version. Agreed on all your points above!

  • Minimz

    Also the “related sounds” needs to be improved, it keeps on coming up with same tracks giving some producers 10,000s of plays. Its also very annoying to hear the same track again and again when the song you were originally playin as finished.

    • dggdg

      co sign!

  • Andrew

    It would be cool if soundcloud didn’t pull down mixes for copyrighted tracks.

  • B.Lavi$h

    What about the ability to download sets ?

    • Xavier Mafe

      What do you mean by that? are you talking about downloading mixes? cause you can already do that.

      • DJ Todd G

        I believe he means when a set is made of multiple songs or DJ mixes and being able to download all at once as opposed to individually

  • iamshanemorris

    In order to understand SoundCloud, you really need to understand their architecture, and what the platform is built to do, who uses it the most, and what they’re trying to do moving forward.

    When it comes to this article, I think you focused a bit too heavily on EDM and how bloggers and DJ’s interact with the platform. As a music blogger, you want certain features that (unfortunately) roughly 90% of SoundCloud users don’t want.

    Hot linking to a song for a DJ mix sounds cool, until you realize only about 5% of SoundCloud is EDM and DJ related. Country/Western, rock bands, singers, rappers, etc – they don’t have much use for hot-linking, and building in this feature would complicate their platform. Any time you complicate a platform like that, especially when such a small segment is going to use a feature, you’re reducing mass usability.

    “Top Lists/Tags” would be bad for SoundCloud, because it would reduce their appeal to emerging artists, and cause “popularity matrix static”. I used to work with three of their engineers (back at MySpace Music) and we struggled with the same things. When MySpace Music introduced popular charts, it was the beginning of the end. We started seeing accelerated playcounts, incentive based play converters, etc. From their perspective, this could only serve to damage their credibility.

    When you use your platform as a popularity contest, you lose.

    Time-stamps for reposts could be important, but when you think about it from a macro-standpoint, that’s not a direct function that serves the artist, and it’s more of a “re-heated feature” – a bit like Vine’s “ReVine” if you think about it. Because you’re a blogger, “newness” matters to you. However, fewer than 1% of all users on SoundCloud are bloggers, so building in this feature doesn’t serve enough of their base.

    Custom Skins – my dude, I hate to tell you this, but you can make your own. If you’d like a DAD skin, hit me up, and I’ll help you with that. SoundCloud offers their API to everyone. If you’d like your player to look different, all you have to do is learn some code. The reason you see major labels with skins is because they pay people to make themselves look pretty. (Funny how that works. I’m talking to you, Miley Cyrus.)

    Some of the other things you mentioned (private likes, a shuffle feature) are really only relevant to bloggers – so people like you. If anything this just exposes a need for something better out there. Currently, Soundcloud isn’t really getting their ducks in a row for bloggers, and yeah, that sucks.

    However, there is an upshot here: All the problems you’re talking about are pretty easy to tie into a new item. SoundCloud makes their API open, and that means you can use their hosting, services, players, etc – and make an application that works better for bloggers. I think there would be (an admittedly small, but great) market for it.

    If this is anything, it’s a call to developers to take what SoundCloud has given us, and make something better, for bloggers, DJ’s etc. The tools are all in front of us, and there is clearly a demand for it (as you’re showing), so someone oughta fix this.

    • Xavier Mafe

      Thanks so much for your insight! You make some really really great points. When we approached this article, we definitely came at it as bloggers and as bloggers we can have a tendency to only focus on our little slice of internet heaven as opposed to the whole pie.

      Do you think it would be more likely that a developer or a group of developers would try and manipulate Soundcloud’s API or just go ahead and make a completely new application that isn’t tied to Soundcloud?

      • iamshanemorris

        I think bloggers need something like SoundCloud, but more for ranking and understanding heat-seeking tracks. As much as I hate to say it, I think Hypem.com lost its course when it stopped admitting new sites, because of just how many blogs were applying.

        WeAreHunted was great, until Twitter bought them.

        There is a gap, and I think a developer should exploit it. The need exists, and it’s not being filled.

    • https://soundcloud.com/buukwerm Buuk Werm

      I’d like to learn more about how to change my soundcloud page’s appearance. Where can I go to learn more? Thanks ahead of time.

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  • Geoff Garbers

    I follow a varied assortment of artists on soundcloud that produce quite a wide variety of genres. Considering I’m not a power user of soundcloud (I only use it to listen to artists), the only bugbear that I can relate to on that list is the filtering of artists/genres.

    That said, I ended up building a super simple soundcloud “filter”, that you can use to group similar artists together. It’s nothing fancy – but I know I’ve found it useful already, so I thought I might share. You can get to it on http://setlist.im/ – hope you find it useful :)