Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Future Of Single Track Blogging And Soundcloud

With labels such as Sony having ongoing licensing issues with Soundcloud, removing some of its artists from the platform, and the music industry as a whole moving towards the likes of Spotify and Apple Music to showcase new music, you have to wonder what the future of traditional new music single track blogging will look like. Soundcloud (and to a lesser extent Bandcamp) have been the favourites for many music blogs (including this one) to stream new songs, partly because of its simplicity but also because blog aggregator Hype Machine then picks the song up, enabling potentially hundreds / thousands more plays. Plus as Hype Machine links back to the blogs that post the song, it usual gives the blog that posted the song a tiny bit more traffic as well (albeit a relatively small amount).

If (and it's still a big if - but we can see the potential there) Soundcloud becomes redundant as a platform, what will traditional ‘track blogs’ do? And therefore what will Hype Machine do? 

What would be interesting, certainly in our own country of the UK, would be if Hype Machine picked up single song Spotify embeds. It could potentially mean that a track that is played via Spotify on a blog could, by being ‘loved’ a lot on the Hype Machine Chart, find itself gaining enough plays to reach the official charts (as tracks at the top of the Hype Machine chart get way more plays than others), as the official charts now include streaming. This would provide the possibility for bands like Chvrches or Oh Wonder, both big Breaking More Waves favourites and popular on Hype Machine, to have hit singles on the official UK charts rather than just being 'internet bands'. It would also liven up the chart, given the relatively stale state it has been in recently with very few new entries or high climbers each week. It would also enable completely unsigned self releasing artists to get in the charts via blog success and therefore reach an even wider audience.

For now however, Soundcloud still soldiers on; but unless it can sort out its business side of things and satisfy the music labels it's future is less clear and as yet Hype Machine has made no announcements about using Spotify as one of its sources.

The reason we're talking about this is twofold:

1. How Breaking More Waves could change in the future.

Breaking More Waves is a very old school blog in its presentation and way it does things (a lot of it is traditional single track blogging via Soundcloud). However, we do like to (time permitting) write more than just about the song itself. We like to have wider conversations about music, explore concepts, have discussions. A bit like this post. It’s something that if traditional ‘track blogging’ eventually dies we suspect we will do more and more of. We enjoy doing it and as a bonus we seem to get more readers of our discussion posts than just writing about new songs, often through social media sharing. 

2. Because sometimes the music industry surprises us.

Yesterday, potential future pop star Grace Mitchell uploaded her rather excellent Raceday EP to Soundcloud. Why was this interesting? Because Grace has for some time had the EP on monetised streaming services such as Spotify as well as You Tube, so the late release to Soundcloud defies normal industry convention. The normal course of events would be to upload a song from the EP to Soundcloud, generate interest through blogs and websites and then release the whole EP to monetised sites as interest increased. This release strategy seems to be going the opposite way. If anyone could explain to us why Grace / her label has done this, we'd love to know the reasoning / logic. Or is it just a case (as often seems to be the way these days) that the music industry has no idea what it's doing?

It seems odd, but we’re pleased all the same, because it gives us the opportunity to remind you that the EP is truly excellent and even more so, Jitter, the best song on the EP, is a 1010% crazy bona-fide explosive pop banger. If you haven't heard it yet, it's time...

Grace Mitchell - Jitter


rick said...

Music should be on every platform. Soundcloud included.

Some people will never pay for music, and you can't change that (they'll go back to piracy for e.g.) but they might still support it in other ways. Success on every platform for an artist gives them the biggest reach possible. Labels need to be more all encompassing, using what Soundcloud do well to push other areas that make an artist successful. I don't think labels are completely good at that yet.

Soundcloud will probably go though! I guess that would mean Hype Machine will need to come up with a new thing and a partnership with Spotify makes the most sense as artists would get paid too. Think its tricky though.

Jeremy D said...

It will be a shame if Soundcloud does go it can be a great 1st step for new artists just wanting to get their music heard and develop monetised play at a later date through Spotify etc. Mind you, Bandcamp could then become the place of choice rather than Soundcloud. Personally I prefer Bandcamp as you can then have the option to buy, including physical.

Good to see Breaking More Waves publishing a few more discursive articles again.

Stephen Bodger said...

I could be wrong but I have always thought of SoundCloud as a niche platform, largely for new and upcoming bands to have a place to release and for music nerds to discover them, often at the say-so of the bloggers. It’s a little bit like in the old days teenagers in the UK would tune in to the John Peel show thrice weekly to get their fix of the new, the wonderful and the downright weird. Today bloggers are the John Peels sifting the wheat from the chaff from the genre specific cul-de-sacs of SoundCloud.

SoundCloud can’t and never will be able to compete with the big music distributors of Spotify and Apple (which according to a friend at Beggars Banquet account for over half the music consumed in the UK). Worse still, recent changes in their own policy means new bands are restricted in their ability to actively seek followers and thereby grow their own fan bases. With this policy change SoundCloud seems to have wilfully shot itself in the foot which surely can only further its own demise.

I hope I'm wrong and the SoundCloud folk can re-invent themselves and sort out their monetization issues, but, in the same way that MySpace was usurped by Facebook, new platforms will surely emerge to fill any void.



Christopher McBride said...

There was a hookup between Hype Machine & Spotify at one point. There used to be a Hype Machine app available on Spotify, where you could listen to a playlist of songs for each blog from the Hype Machine that were available on Spotify. Unfortunately that seems to have gone when Spotify ditched apps from their system. I would love to see an official Spotify/HM hookup, although I imagine there might be licensing issues that would put it beyond the point of affordability.