All good things must come to an end and in the world of music some people believe it is time to part ways with Soundcloud. In a recent site-wide takedown fiasco many DJs and producers began to post on social media about their distaste with Soundcloud, while the site is also being pinned down by the major three record labels as they threaten it with copyright laws. This becomes a big problem for DJs who want to post mixes, mashups, and remixes while also being a problem for DJs when it comes to finding new music. For DJs ready to jump ship below is a comprehensive look at all the viable alternatives.
What Makes (Made?) Soundcloud Great?
Soundcloud is not only a platform for sharing music but a community that joins everyone across the musical spectrum while allowing users to easily filter out music they want to hear. After analyzing Soundcloud and it’s aesthetic we came up with a few criteria to critique alternatives.
- Ample Storage: For DJs this is always a problem because mixes can run 15+ minutes and powerhouse producers can easily meet a 2 hour upload limit.
- Community: Arguably the most important part of Soundcloud is the community and the way users can interact with artists through comments and messages.
- Good for Crate Digging or Hosting: Some sites do better than others when it comes to hosting or crate digging. Then, there are sites who easily handle both.
Yungcloud has been popping up on my Twitter feed for awhile and even when I was ranting about Soundcloud someone @ me with a link to the site. Immediately it is apparent the site mimics Soundcloud; The site has a very familiar layout and it is pretty intuitive to use.(Makes sense. “Yungcloud.”) A DJ can setup a profile in a matter of minutes, but Facebook sign up feature is unavailable. The site is mostly hip-hop and trap music with a few sprinkles of other genres so a DJ looking for tech house or indie music are out of luck until the user-base becomes more diverse.
Storage: Yungcloud caps storage at 50gb which allows for more music to be hosted as long as it is compressed. As of now, there is no possibility of increasing that storage space but in the future there may be as the site grows.
Community: Yungcloud has a growing community of underground artists who are trying to build the next SC. As for monetization there are no ads on the site and the only means of support seem to be merchandise with the Yungcloud logo so this may well be just a community funded venture.
Vibe: This is definitely geared toward hip-hop and trap artists more so than other genres but officially it is the spot for “underground music”. This could pertain to numerous genres eventually but you are probably not going to see tracks from major label artists.
Crate Digging or Hosting: This site is good for both. In terms of functionality, an artist gets more storage (assuming MP3s are uploaded) with Yungcloud and it can easily be shared with others. Also, the interface is intuitive so searching for new music is a painless activity. Yungcloud offers free analytic data for each track that tracks number of plays, geographical location, and individual user interactions over the range of a few days to the last 12 months.
Hearthis.at is a German sound platform that is very familiar to the functionality of Soundcloud. The category of sounds is pretty diverse with tracks spanning from hip-hop to electronic music with the specialty genres including podcasts and festival performances. There is a more heavy lean towards electronic music with emphasis on different sub-genres while hip-hop and rap are slumped together into one category.
The site does have an interesting feature called Maps which shows the locations of tracks all around the world. Here in San Francisco there wasn’t too much action going on but I did see a lot of tracks being shared in European countries. This feature could be really cool to see what is trending in different cities which can help a touring DJ figure out what would specifically play well in that location.
After browsing the site for a little bit I came to the conclusion that the current users are using the site as a place to host their DJ mixes in a similar fashion to how DJs once hosted mixes on Soundcloud pre-takedown era.
Storage: With a free account a user can upload as much content as he/she wants until their total discography reaches 5000 downloads or 10,000 plays. For unlimited hosting a DJ is looking at paying €29 ($32) per year which is a bargain for hosting music. With that comes WAV (and other file formats) support, top position in search results, and the ability to dictate the play quality from 96-320 kbit/s. Definitely a bargain.
Community: The community seemed to be lacking a bit because there was a lot of content being uploaded however there wasn’t much action going on aside from that. Now that is not to say that there is no community but until more people jump on board the community may be a bit lack luster.
Vibe: I definitely get a renegade vibe when scrolling Hearthis.at. I feel it is geared towards DJs and producers who are dealing with copyright fiascos. This site is one where content can be uploaded with less fear of infringing on a copyright and the fact that the site is hosted in Germany means that might be a little harder to do. The site is very familiar and intuitive to use.
Crate Digging or Hosting: Hearthis.at is good for both crate digging and hosting, if you want to pay for it. As for crate digging there is content on hear to find and a strong majority of it comes from underground artists so that really supports the music community when a DJ downloads a fellow DJ’s track. Hosting is excellent on this site if the DJ is willing to pay the yearly fee. With the amount of features that come with going premium a DJ probably won’t mind paying on €29 ($32) per year.
Bandcamp is a familiar name for most music connoisseurs, but probably not what most DJs think of when it comes to music discovery. Bandcamp, unlike the name suggests, isn’t only for indie bands but actually for any type of artist that wants to put out new music for free or for profit. Using the site as a fan or artist is completely free and original content can even be sold through the site. However, while it is cool to sell original tracks selling remixes is still not okay and in most instances illegal without explicit permissions. So, if a DJ is using the site to host mixes or remixes, do so at your own risk.
Storage: All files have to be uploaded in a lossless formats which include WAV, AIFF and FLAC. The maximize track size is 291 MB however there is no limit to how many songs can be uploaded in total. If $20 or more is made in sales of the music then the track upload limit goes to 600 MB.
Community: The community that utilizes Bandcamp is extremely diverse in terms of music and people. There are all sorts of genres and music comes from every crevice across the globe so when it comes to finding, sharing, and liking music Bandcamp is one of the best places to go for independent gems. Personally, I enjoy supporting local acts through the platform.
Vibe: The vibe here is very open and independent. While there are some labels who use Bandcamp as a distribution platform, a lot of the music being hosted is straight from the artist which means as a DJ you can find some pretty cool gems. On top of that most artists will offer free downloads or name your price which is reasonable for well produced music. There is a lot more rock and hip-hop music compared to other genres however there are millions of tracks to go through. Bandcamp is like the online record store for independent music.
8tracks is a website that serves as a place to build and share playlists in a similar style as people once did with physical mixtapes. Instead of recording songs as they played of the radio a user can build a playlist with content from the 8tracks library and tracks from her computer. As a DJ, I am actually very familiar with 8tracks because I was using it in conjunction with Mixcloud during the summer of 2014 when I was uploading mixes weekly. As a part of my distribution process, I would upload my mixes to Mixcloud and then offer listeners the option of listening to my playlist via 8tracks. For awhile this was actually worth doing everytime because I gained more listeners through people listening to my 8tracks playlist which eventually would lead them to my Facebook page, Soundcloud, etc.
Storage: 8tracks allows a user to put as many songs as he likes in a playlist with a minimum of 8 songs per playlist. This isn’t beneficial for mixes really, but this is great for mash-ups and remixes because everything that is uploaded 8tracks pays royalties on so, that fire remix still makes a bit of revenue for the original artists. Win-win.
Community: The community on 8tracks is full of people who love making and sharing playlists. Here people want to consume and talk about music which is one of the core duties of a DJ. We are all about sharing tracks and 8tracks provides a different way to do that aside from mixing.
Vibe: The vibe on 8tracks isn’t really for DJs to upload mixes however it is more to share a setlist and remixes. A DJ may get a wider audience reach when he shares his playlist with his fans and hopefully he makes some new ones. The DJ vibe is here but in a completely different, inviting way. Also, I find the average age group to be made up of people in college and in their mid to late 20s.
Crate Digging or Hosting: This site is great for finding tracks that people are into and it is great for sharing what a DJ plays. Like I said, I shared my playlist on 8tracks because I wanted my followers to know what tracks I played and I didn’t care about letting the secret set list out. I care about sharing and finding new music which 8tracks is great for.
Mixcloud is by far one of the best places to host a mix in the world of takedowns and ambiguous copyright laws. Mixcloud’s music license allows for users to mix any artist and any song without the fear of infringing on copyrights. Now, that does come with some drawbacks such as users not being able to see the full tracklist or rewind a mix once it has started playing. None the less, with Mixcloud DJs can catalog their mixes and, with multiple ways to listen, Mixcloud can be reached by everyone who is listening to a DJ’s mixes.
Storage: DJs can upload as many mixes as they want to Mixcloud for free and mixes must be uploaded in MP3, AAC, M4A, MP4 or OGG formats. While the uploader doesn’t accept WAV or FLAC files DJTT does have an article that discusses how to maximize upload quality.
Community: Being a four year veteran on Mixcloud I can say that the community is mostly DJs with casual listeners thrown into the mix. I’ll find more DJs and radio personalities are listening to my shows which is great because that allows creators to share techniques and tracks. The average music listener I find just uses Mixcloud as a platform to listen to mixes with less interaction aside from that, but as more DJs use Mixcloud we may see that change.
Vibe: Mixcloud is it’s own unique platform for DJs, radio personalities, and podcasters. The site has a clean and easy to use interface for users and creators alike. While most DJs can get by with the free plan, some DJs may find that paying for a Pro membership is the better way to go because a Pro Mixcloud account gives DJs access to a ton of analytics, sheduled releases, customization tools, and visibility control. I see it as the DJ’s Soundcloud for mixes.
Crate Digging or Hosting: Personally, I use Mixcloud for hosting my mixes and radio shows. I rarely use the site to listen to other mixes however doing so can be beneficial. By listening to other mixes you can be inspired by another DJ’s technique or track selection. So, Mixcloud could be used for both but the icing is definitely the hosting capabilities.
Mixcrate is similar to Mixcloud in the regards that is a site specifically for mixes however Mixcrate is the site that caters specifically to DJs. The only content that can be uploaded to Mixcrate are DJ mixes or mixtapes so single songs or playlists of songs are not allowed. This approach makes Mixcrate the platform in which DJs can showcase their mixing abilities and track selection. They are very clear about that in their upload policy. The site itself is straightforward and simplistic making it pretty easy to use overall.
Storage: There is no upload limit on Mixcrate however files can only be a maximum of 190 MB and they must be in MP3 format.
Community: The site is ran for and by the DJ community which makes it a very unique animal. The upload policy and overall feel of the site is geared towards DJ sharing original mixes and the platform itself is held together by the tight bond that is created by the community. That also means any DJs caught violating these terms will be banned from the community.
Vibe: While I haven’t used Mixcrate before I have the feeling as if this site comes with a great community behind it. Chances are that the mixes on Mixcrate are by DJs who have been users for a while and continue to share new music. Whether a DJ spins Atlanta hip-hop or jungle DnB there is something for every listener. Mixcrate is a site built by underground DJs for the underground music community.
Crate Digging or Hosting: Both. Mixcrate is a great place to host DJ mixes for the world to listen while also offering a platform for fellow DJs to listen to other mixes to find inspiration and new music. It is free to host mixes on here and the chances of finding new, interesting music are pretty high.
Soundclick is the oldest site on this list which makes it a true OG when it comes to hosting and sharing music. Soundclick has been a platform for music lovers and bands since 1997 and nowadays it has grown into being a port for music listeners to find new music and information about the artist. The UI is not the most aesthetically pleasing however it is simple to use and it comes with a lot of perks for DJs.
Storage: DJs can appreciate the fact the once they are approved by the Soundclick team they can upload an unlimited amount of songs. The caveat is that the maximum size of each song is 10 MB for free accounts and 40 MB for paid accounts ($9.95/month). This service would definitely be best for remixes, mashups, etc. but a DJ won’t be able to upload high-fidelity files.
Community: Being one of the oldest music communities on the internet makes Soundclick a great resource for artists and music lovers to connect. The site actually prides itself on being the “#1 Artist Music Community” and that shows through the amount of tools that the site provides artists to engage with fans.
Vibe: Soundclick may not be the most fanciest service out there but it is definitely one of the most close knit communities on the internet. This site was built as an originator of the social media format for the music industry and it has remained that for over a decade.
Crate Digging or Hosting: This site is great for both however the hosting is pretty limited in terms of the max file size so only songs could realistically be uploaded. For DJs the site remains a great platform to download and find new music from artists who may not be anywhere else. Inside Soundclick there could be that gem that a DJ won’t find anywhere else.
Where to Now?
Here we covered a handful of sites that we believe DJs can find solace in during the era of takedowns. While Soundcloud isn’t the best in terms of hosting mixes, remixes, and mashups there is still millions of songs that are available to sort through. The site isn’t dead for crate digging however it is one that has lost its connection with many DJs and producers. Maybe one day there will be a site that can handle both the abundance of content for crate digging and the free range for uploading music. The search for the ultimate music sharing site continues.
What alternatives to Soundcloud do you know of?
Let us know in the comments!