Somehow, in the relatively advanced year of 2006, when YouTube, Vimeo, and several other sites helped us share video, we still lacked a good way to do the same with music. Sure, there was imeem, which aspired to be “the YouTube of music,” but it was designed more for posting music recorded by other people rather than stuff you’d recorded yourself.
The reason for this lack of a decent audio sharing site was clear: Far more people are capable of recording video (point, shoot, laugh) than music (learn to play, write a song, record it). Ultimately, YouTube ended up being the YouTube of other people’s music. If you’d recorded something yourself, there simply wasn’t a good way to share the audio file with friends, people at your label, or the public — especially in the case of larger files.
SoundCloud‘s obvious-in-retrospect solution was to target people within the music industry who still relied on email, with its 10MB file ceiling (generally speaking) and lack of publishing or commenting tools, and help them send each other tracks. Everyone from artists sharing new songs privately with their labels to DJs looking to share extended mixes with their fans began using it.
SoundCloud’s simple premise was to let members upload and share audio with private groups or the public, displaying the familiar (to some) “wave form” view. The company has stuck to that plan with minor adjustments, recently adding a Record button to their web and mobile apps, for example. A single tap of a button on a mobile app now allows anyone to record audio to the cloud and share it with the world.
The above, well-produced video depicts SoundCloud co-founders Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss telling the story of how the idea for SoundCloud occurred to them. We were a little reticent to post it because it includes a sneaker ad (having been produced by a sneaker company), but the video is entertaining enough and provides a nice insight into the formation of this influential site.
In honor of the original spirit of SoundCloud, which is poised to become the “MySpace” of the Twitter era, here’s the short-attention-spam remix of The New Year’s “Gasoline” I made a few years ago. Sure, there are other ways I could have embedded it here, but SoundCloud, with its musician-friendly waveform interface, big play button, robust commenting ability, and other neat extras, remains the best option for sharing original (or partially original in this case) music: