The Disappointing Evolution Of SoundCloud

It seems to me that it was only a couple of years ago when I (and many others) thought that the audio sharing website and app SoundCloud was incredibly useful and perhaps even the future of audio distribution via the internet. After all SoundCloud had elegant mobile apps that made it easy to record and upload audio as well as offering elegant, easily embeddable audio players that were also mobile friendly. These features made it easier than ever to capture and share audio on the internet and across a variety of websites.

As a venture capital funded company I knew that SoundCloud would at some point be making changes designed to bring in more revenue so it was no surprise to me when they limited the amount of free upload time when they launched a paid Pro service in 2013. The much bigger suprise was in 2014 when SoundCloud decided to remove uploading capability from their mobile apps, including their iPad app. To this day you cannot upload to SoundCloud directly using their mobile apps. You must use a computer or seek out a 3rd party mobile app. That and the redesign which was intended to put the listening experience for music upfront lead to an interface that to this day I find just plain confusing.

While I’m sure it seemed to make sense for SoundCloud to put music listeners (or to at least attempt to) in the drivers seat I think that’s the tail wagging the dog. If there are great sounds on SoundCloud then all kinds of listeners will come. And if you give audio creators a platform to build a strong presence then the listeners will stay. But what SoundCloud did with their updates to their apps took away the simplicity that probably lead more that a few people and artists to capture those spontaneous moments (including live jam sessions, live concerts and important live events) that could possible delight many other people.

As things stand now SoundCloud does support uploading prerecorded audio files via non-mobile web browsers and some third party apps, including Apple’s GarageBand music editing software. While that is something I think it’s a far cry from the prior possibilities for SoundCloud. Others do too in part because of additional content related issues such as SoundCloud cutting deals with major labels and cracking down on piracy (which inevitably leads to legit fair use content being pulled).

More recently SoundCloud has attempted to boost their revenue by launching a paid audio podcasting service. Although I think that the service will do quite well, particularly with established media companies, the general direction of SoundCloud over the last couple of years makes me think that for the individual who hopes to build out a show that using SoundCloud will be a mistake. I say that because as a company with lots of venture capital funding (over $200 million) they are bound to make decisions that go against creators. Some examples could include auto-insertion of ads into audio as well as assertion of some form of ownership over the actual content.

Perhaps my fears are overblown. Perhaps not. For the moment I’m disappointed to have lost a place where I can easily share interesting audio clips at a moments notice. For those willing to put their faith in SoundCloud I say beware. It’s always very dangerous to host what you consider to be valuable content with a service whose aim goes beyond merely hosting content. Services like SoundCloud see themselves as media companies (as opposed to pure technology providers) and as such you have to be ready to move to another platform if (more likely when) they make a change that goes against your mission as a distributor of content on the internet.

Viral Marketing A Major Theme At SXSW Interactive

Having had a couple of weeks to ponder my experience at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive I have settled on the decision that viral marketing (and the content that enables it) represented the most ubiquitous theme that I recognized throughout the event.

I came to this conclusion after thinking back on the conversations I had with people I met at the event, many of whom told me they were in the business of media, marketing, media marketing or marketing technology. I also draw this conclusion based on the number of companies I saw whose goal was to help other companies harness the masses taking action (or not) on social media websites. Indeed, grabbing the attention of the masses online and moving them to act appears to be the holy grail of the internet business world these days.

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LinkedIn Changes Highlight The Downside Of Social Network Publishing

In the last few years LinkedIn has become an extremely important place for business focused social networking. That being the case the value of posting your business-to-business (B2B) related content on LinkedIn has increased significantly. One can always expect that as a social network grows in size, popularity and influence that changes will occur. As Facebook has grown they have made a number of important changes to their News Feed. Some of those changes have been welcome and helpful while others have been perceived as damaging to content publishers. LinkedIn has been changing too, but it hasn’t been until this week that I felt like a change they have made was a bad one.

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Embed Facebook Posts on Your WordPress.com Site

Embed everything!

The WordPress.com Blog

Using your WordPress.com site as your digital hub on the web just got a bit easier. We’re delighted to let you know that you can embed Facebook posts directly into posts and pages on your blog. Here’s how.

First, click on the date stamp under any post to grab the post’s URL:

fbdatestamp

You’ll be taken to the page for that individual update. Copy the URL in the address bar:

fbURL

Paste the URL of the Facebook post directly into your post editor on its own line:

fbposteditor

Here’s what the embedded post looks like in all its glory:

Embedding works for photo posts, too:

For a bit more information, check out our Facebook Integration support document.

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Post To Google Plus Automatically Using WordPress

Check the link below for information about the new integration between WordPress.com and Google+. This is a welcome development because up to now you had to create a hack (via IFTTT, also see this post) to cross post between WordPress and Google+. They also say that the new features are coming soon to self-hosted WP blogs via the Jetpack plugin.

via Your Blog, Plus One: Connect and Share on Google+.

Short Video Clips Hit The Big Time

Within the last few years a pair of startups, 12seconds.tv and Seesmic, attempted to popularize short videos as a method of communication on the web. Both of them ultimately failed. Seesmic pivoted (multiple times) away from video (and was eventually sold at a loss) while 12seconds.tv opted to shut down their operation. The founders and investors in both of those companies must be feeling a bit nostalgic (to put it mildly) as they watch short video sharing take off via Twitter ‘s Vine service and Facebook’s new Instagram video feature.

Earlier this year Twitter launched Vine, which has a six second video limit, as a separate service but also a complimentary service that made it easy to share videos on Twitter. Vine was starting to catch on and for the moment it appeared that Twitter had one upped Facebook on the media sharing front after Facebook had one upped Twitter by acquiring Instagram. Then in mid-June Facebook announced an video feature for Instagram with a fifteen second limit and some other nifty features including filters and very basic clip editing. Advantage Facebook.

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