By Tom Aylott

Tom recently had a catch up with about what they’re doing, where they see the industry going and, what you can expect from them in the future!

What’s the best thing about working at SoundCloud?

For starters it’s a great product, and the communication within the company is so stellar that you constantly feel involved. Every team member has something amazing to contribute, we’re all on the same page and everyone puts in an enormous amount of effort. The innovation within the company and the overwhelming involvement we have in all aspects of the music and tech industries means that a role at SoundCloud is always exciting. If anyone fancies becoming part of this uniquely brilliant group of people please check out our jobs page!

Now that streaming audio is a part of everyday life, at home and increasingly on the go, where do you think the industry is headed from here?

Apps and mobile markets are playing a hugely important part in driving the industry forward and will continue to do so. SoundCloud has released Android, iPhone and Desktop apps, plus integrated closely with companies such as Mobile Roadie.[a] There has also been an overwhelming growth of apps built on our API, allowing users to do anything from record, make music, sell their tracks – they break down the barriers for anyone to create and share sound. Take for example tools such as the record button function available on our mobile apps, a really easy to use tool which means anyone can become an audio creator on the fly and share their sounds from anywhere to everywhere on the web. There is also the Korg IMS-20 which, in our opinion, just keeps getting better and better, and now you can even connect and share your creations directly with your SoundCloud account! Ultimately we believe connectivity and collaboration with audio is absolutely key.

MySpace has been throwing back declining user figures recently, and there’s every indication that it’s the “Titanic” of the online music world. What do you think they did wrong, and is there anything that could turn it around?

Myspace has only ever operated as a music destination, which has separated it from current digital tools; the focus was to operate within Myspace. If you are on SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter or Youtube you can feed your activity to any other profile, integrate it with other applications and combine them all.

We feel that due to the emergence of exciting platforms offering apps and hacks and new ways to showcase audio that there is so much potential out there, bands can actually pick and choose the destination for their audio now, there’s no limit to how much audio they can share and where they can share it to.

Take for example Foo Fighters using the SoundCloud Premiere App to showcase their new album ‘Wasting Light’, and Explosions In The Sky premiering ‘Take Care, Take Care, Take Care‘ – both bands choosing an interactive, open API to showcase their new audio rather than streaming it via Myspace. Even labels are starting to take notice – Interscope and Epitaph have both used SoundCloud to exclusively stream the latest Rise Against and Thursday albums/tracks, while Moby also uses us to promote his latest tracks on his site. When Beck decided to trash his so-five-years-ago Flash-based site and start over with simple pages heavy on high-quality content and light on everything else, he too turned to SoundCloud.

Why should music listeners, creators and content providers choose SoundCloud?

SoundCloud’s users are audio creators, and we have an ever-increasing community of them. There is so much amazing content on the platform for everyone to sink their teeth into whether it be listening and following and interacting with timed comments as a listener or creating and sharing audio as creators and providers. We believe that everyone has the potential to be an audio creator, which is why we introduced our record function and applied it directly into the browser and our mobile apps. Audio creators now have a simple and effective way to put content in front of their audience anywhere across the web, using our apps and embeddable players, and they can even work closely with content providers by offering exclusives to them using our secret widget and secret links. You can even create your own audio solution of a mobile-friendly customised player to embed on your website just like Punktastic!

There is also the advantage of being able to share your sounds freely, or privately, with press like Sub Pop did for the new Fleet Foxes album on The Guardian, or you can simply share it to blogs or anyone else who wants to rave about your audio. You can take the pre-provided code from your SoundCloud widget and embed it directly into a website such as Punktastic; the players are fully customisable and can be a really great audio solution for websites.

How important do you think social networking is and has been to SoundCloud?

Super important. There is so much value exchange connected with social networking, hence our focus on our timed comments feature and social links, whether that be featured links on a profile or the ability to share a SoundCloud waveform player directly through Facebook. We are also pushing audio tweeting and podcasting to increase audio interactivity and literacy. With SoundCloud you can share your audio whereever your social circles may lie, for example, if your audience is predominantly on Facebook, we are integrated with Rootmusic so that your audio stream on your Bandpage can be driven directly from SoundCloud.

How important is it that new / existing bands get to grips with social networking?

It’s potentially one of the most important skills for any band, whether it’s personal interactions from band members or being able to message clearly to your whole fan base. Artists should make the most of these opportunities and make sure their fans feel like they are being rewarded with something worthwhile for being connected and following them. If a fan is asking a question on Twitter or saying thanks for the great show, it’s so simple and rewarding to send them back a personal response, maybe even an audio tweet as a response via SoundCloud!

You’ve just launched SoundCloud Labs. How long’s this been in the pipeline, and what can we expect in the future? What sort of thing is already available? Is there anything else exciting coming up at SoundCloud that you can tell us about?

SoundCloud Labs is purely dedicated to experimental projects and features; it allows innovations to come to life, but can remain relatively easy to manage as they stay in an experimental form. It runs from our own API and has been developed entirely in-house. Our newest features include Social Unlock which allows users to create a customised page to promote new recordings and offer fans free downloads if they share the links via social media sites such as Twitter. Importer lets users import tracks into their account via a URL, email or mobile connection and the new Google Apps Gmail Plug-in means that SoundCloud players can be embedded into emails, although this is currently only available for Google Apps accounts. Takes Questions only launched in beta last month, now we’ve made it fully public, it allows users to record questions for anybody whether they are a musician, comedian, actor, or just a regular person wanting to interact with the online community. The response can then be recorded directly through our iPhone and Android apps, and both the Q&A finally appear as a pair on your very own Takes Questions landing page.

Another relatively new feature we are pushing is audio tweeting, or audio blogging, or audio messaging, whatever you want to call it, we believe SoundCloud is an ideal way to push out a quick audio message to the web. It can be super useful for bands using it as an audio tour diary!

Here at SoundCloud, we believe that the web is too silent, so coming up new ideas to fill it with sound is what keeps us ticking. We can’t disclose anything else at the moment, but keep your ears open.

Are there any bands that you’ve discovered through using SoundCloud that you’d like to recommend?

I’d like to draw attention a few bands and artists who have really got to grips with SoundCloud and are using it in a great way…

Foo Fighters and Beastie Boys are both using our Premiere App to showcase their new albums.

Manchester Orchestra are going nuts with SoundCloud at the moment, check out their new album – all of their new tracks are shared on their Facebook page using SoundCloud.

Incubus are also streaming their new single using SoundCloud, and including players and sharing on their Facebook.

Finally, Sonic Youth’s
Thurston Moore is streaming his new record Demolished Thoughts using a simple yet effective SoundCloud artwork player over at

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]