“I love the old school spirit of craftsmanship...” Fernando Gros.
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Blog // Sounds
May 20, 2014

Twitter Might Buy SoundCloud

The news suggests Twitter might be buying SoundCloud. Is it true?

Please read the update at the bottom of this post…
This morning’s news carries with it reports Twitter may be about to buy SoundCloud.

I was a big fan of SoundCloud for quite some time. As an early adopter, I saw SoundCloud as a great solution for a host issues musicians face, from sharing music, to embedding it on sites and even online collaboration. I enjoyed seeing the platform grow and helped organise community events, called SoundCloud Meetup Days, in Hong Kong and Singapore and frequently wrote about new SoundCloud features.

SoundCloud In Decline

But, like many musicians I’ve spoken to, my enthusiasm for SoundCloud has waned. It feels like sometime last year, SoundCloud simply stopped innovating

The much vaunted “new” SoundCloud actually continues to be an unfinished mashup of old and new layouts. The upload page was only recently changed to the new layout and some parts of the user settings (like “Your account plan”) still revert to the old layout. As part of the change some features that attracted musicians and labels have been dropped, or become harder to use.

However, some issues remained, like the way search seemed to never work well, despite the stated goal of trying to be a music discovery platform. SoundCloud quickly became popular with DJs and also with musicians doing cover versions and it soon became hard to find original music amongst all the covers and “mix tapes.” This also created huge legal issues and alienated many musicians (as have constant changes to the pricing plans).

A Little Twitter/SoundCloud History

One such deal was Twitter’s ill-fated move into music(which included the purchase of music discovery service We Are Hunted). SoundCloud was meant to be part of the deal, but it never happened. Since then both companies have continued to grow and yet, in many ways, seemed to lose ground at the same time.

SoundCloud never became mainstream in the way MySpace was. As a discovery platform, SoundCloud has been eclipsed by Shazam and the international roll out of streaming services like Spotify and Rdio. A similar service, IndabaMusic, still has a good buzz amongst independent musicians, but has seen its own struggles recently.

The Trend Is Your Friend

Twitter has certainly been trying to innovate recently. From new profiles, to adding multiple images to one tweet and rich-text “cards” for links, Twitter is trying to make the way it shares information more substantial and rich.

But, tracking trends is still Twitter’s strength – what it does better than other platforms like Facebook and Google+. Twitter allows information to break out of the silos users create, in terms of friends and followers and we still see this clearly when news stories break, or when mass audiences track events, be they major TV shows or sporting fixtures.

Twitter’s early growth came through tech-saavy early adopters who used the platform to track trends and breaking news. In a similar way, SoundCloud initially grew through tech-oriented musicians who were keen to jump on a new platform for sharing and discovering music. Sure, all platforms grow thanks to early adopters in one sense, but Twitter and SoundCloud seemed to share something in common in the kinds of people who first swarmed to each platform – they appealed to online innovators, to the ones who hunt for something fresh and new.

It’s hard to see how a deal like this would grow Twitter’s user base, since there is already such an overlap between the two platforms. But, if this helps Twitter innovate further in the way it tracks and shares trends, it might be exciting enough to bring back the early adopters, the ones who are looking around and wondering, what’s next?

UPDATE

Well, this story didn’t last long, with rumours soon suggesting Twitter had backed out because, “the numbers didn’t add up.” Whatever that means it does tend to suggest this might not be the end of rumours around SoundCloud’s sale.

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