It seems like every day we’re seeing a new mobile music service hitting the streets, so how can a company like SoundCloud stand out from the crowd? According to SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung, the company is going to be successful by focusing on being the social platform for sounds on the web.
“In regular life, sound is a key part of your world and it’s the first sense you build … you navigate the world through hearing sounds,” said Ljung. He added that the web is different from our offline worlds because we don’t interact with sounds as much as we do in the natural world. SoundCloud is hoping to change that and it is looking for its mobile apps on Android, iPhone and now, the iPad to help it achieve this goal.
Make no mistake, SoundCloud is definitely playing in the online music space, as it has major labels and artists using the service in interesting ways. Rapper 50 Cent uploaded a rapping verse sans backing track and asked users to come up with their own versions to play behind his raps – the results were pretty awesome. I’ve also been hearing a lot of organic buzz about the service, which is always a good thing for an emerging service.
But music is just a part of SoundCloud’s larger plans, as it’s building out a platform for sounds that will have open APIs. You could easily imagine a company building on top of this and the Foursquare database to create a killer, location-based sound app. The apps itself make it very easy to add to the sound database, as recording is as simple as a single tap of a button.
The recently-released iPad app takes things up a notch, as the SoundCloud team has done a great job of utilizing the extra space a tablet offers for interesting interactions with the sounds. When you’re playing a file, you can visualize the sound on the big screen and interact with it with your fingertips – it’s a deeper connection with the sounds. SoundCloud is building up its mobile website, is investigating creating an app for Windows Phone 7 and Android tablets in the future.
I can understand some hesitancy about being bullish on bringing more sounds to the Web – I mean, don’t videos also have sounds? I asked Ljung about this and he said that there will always be room for this medium.
“I’m a big believer that text is better than sound for some things and so is video but that’s the wrong way to look at it,” Ljung said. “If I want to express something, sometimes sound is the best way and sometimes it’s not. [These are] different mediums with different characteristics.”
Best of all, SoundCloud actually has a real business model that is already generating some healthy revenues, as it works the freemium model which includes advanced analytics for those who want it. It must be doing pretty well, as SoundCloud just opened up a brand-new San Francisco office to go along with locations in London and Germany.
You can download the SoundCloud app here (iTunes link).