Updated January 19, 2017: We’ve written several in-depth studies of the various Soundcloud alternatives and are updating this piece with links to the new stories on a wide array of alternatives to SoundCloud as we publish them.
Part One: HearThis: What Happened To The SoundCloud Killer? (Added Jan 23 2017)
Part Two: Mixcloud: Party Like It’s Myspace in 2006 (Added Feb 7 2017)
Part Three: Audiomack is Free and Nobody is Paying (Added March 16 2017)
So your SoundCloud mixes and SoundCloud tracks are getting a takedown notice. Where’s the next party at? Here are six SoundCloud alternatives reviewed from the good to the bad and the (very) ugly.
You remember that club that went bottle service, right? You still hung around for awhile, even after the transition, because of the memories and because all of your friends used to go there and the music used to be great, at least before the club fired the good DJ and replaced him with a guy in a backward snapback snorting ketamine off a Numark mixer.
That’s SoundCloud today.
Since SoundCloud’s copyright management deal with ZEFR was announced a week ago, practically everyone I know in the business has been reporting a massive increase in takedowns. What began with producers being flagged after uploading their own tracks (sometimes on a third party label) has now become a fiasco. Four and five year old tracks and DJ mixes (which presumably “passed” some level of copyright filtering before, possibly many times) are their latest prey; it seems reasonable to assume that everything is on the table now, if you’re not “official.”
There’s a reason for this madness, if you want to know.
Having failed spectacularly to make any money with their existing model, SoundCloud is about to turn into Spotify 2.0. – a massive streaming app that sells advertising, compared to its recent existence as a massive streaming app that charges artists for the pleasure of not being paid streaming royalties.
Like a person entering a new relationship and mass deleting their sordid selfies, evidence of the seedy past is being purged to make the entire site more advertiser-friendly. That seedy past = me + you.
In other words, they enjoyed your $135/year, Mister DJ, but Burger King and Bud Light are their customers now.
Six SoundCloud Alternatives
SoundCloud still dominates the musicsphere. It’s been said that their userbase is larger than all of their competitors combined, and that’s probably right.
There also isn’t anything close to a true “SoundCloud clone” out there. While some other services have some interesting functions SoundCloud doesn’t, all are lacking in some really useful features SoundCloud (at least until recently) provided.
Nevertheless there are some alternatives and always have been. The userbase often isn’t much but if you’re hustling, a big red play button is a big red play button no matter where it’s hosted.
Our Hearthis.at: https://hearthis.at/5magazine/
Android | iOS app
Hearthis.at (I keep saying “heart this at”) has been gaining some traction lately as artists without the benefit of a private secretary to manage daily takedown notices have defected from SoundCloud. The userbase appears to be minuscule (9 plays got a mix of ours into the Top 10 for the genre) and the interface (often in broken English) is confusing as hell. The mobile apps are a disaster and should be redone from scratch.
It feels weird to say “on the plus side…” after that, but… There’s a plus side! Hearthis.at a fantastic tool for importing files directly from SoundCloud, MixCloud and the web – we imported from other sites in two of those three formats and it was flawless.
Hearthis.at also allows downloads (with a modicum of control over it) and, with “official artist” approval, you can also monetize your tracks by selling them.
There’s a lot to like here but a lot of room for improvement. Also: a new Facebook group for new hearthis.at users and SoundCloud refugees.
Our Mixcloud: https://www.mixcloud.com/5magazine/
Android | iOS App
Mixcloud has been around since 2008, but has never quite reached critical mass, partly because of the deliberate limitations imposed on uploads. It’s a feature not a bug that they don’t allow downloads (though hosting the file off-site and linking in the description is possible). They require a playlist (so artists can get paid as royalties accrue). It’s as free as you want it to be, but the premium accounts are exactly the same price as SoundCloud ($135/year) without very many features.
With some tinkering in the options, though, the appearance of Mixcloud’s embedded streams on your site look damn similar to SoundCloud’s, which practically no one else has.
The userbase for Mixcloud is probably the second biggest after SoundCloud, but it’s a severe drop off from #1 to #2. The Android store estimates one to five million installations of Mixcloud’s mobile app. That’s a big number – until you realize SoundCloud counts 50 to 100 million Android installs. Those numbers seem right.
Read More: Mixcloud: Party Like It’s Myspace in 2006 (Added Feb 7 2017)
Mix.dj is cheap ($9.99 one-time fee for total premium services). The player is awful and the “waiting” screen that pops up whether you’re using mobile or desktop is annoying. Their dedicated apps seem to have a lot of ads and are chained to a broken business model (a fee to remove ads won’t work unless you have premium content available. I don’t know who any of these people are.)
On the plus side, though: this guy.
By general description, Audiomack presses basically every button you want pressed if you’re a DJ:
- Unlimited uploads
- Unlimited data
- Completely free
That’s right: Audiomack won’t cost you a dollar. It’s completely free. There’s no cap, no advanced functions that cripple the product and require a few bucks a month to unlock.
At least not yet – and probably not for a long time, as Audiomack is really hyping up “the free factor” to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
What you get for “free” is… fairly robust, to be honest. Audiomack plays up their data tracking as another reason to use the site – to know at any given moment “what’s hot.” In fact, this is probably the essential reason for Audiomack’s existence: to make songs easy and free to upload, so the site can acquire as many tracks as possible and rank them by a quantifiable popularity that makes other sites’ Top 10 lists look like checkers to Audiomack’s data-driven chess. A 2015 article in The Fader suggests that some mainstream record producers value this quite a lot:
Our Podomatic: The Hell If I Know
I’m including this because why not. Podomatic actually predates SoundCloud (founded in 2005 – a full two years earlier – on the crest of the first wave of podcasting), but I barely ever see it used anymore. The interface still looks as embarrassingly clumsy as ever and their pro plans are fairly extortionate ($99.90 for a year which consists of only 2 GB storage is the CHEAPEST plan. For $250, it’s a whopping 5 GB. What a deal!) I honestly don’t know anyone who uses this anymore. If you use the pro plan, please leave your phone number so we can call you up and offer some great rates on aluminum siding.
Android | iOS App
Spreaker is kind of the Swiss Army knife of the musicsphere. It wants everyone making everything involving audio to come, from news podcasts and live shows to DJ-centric uploads. They don’t offer much if you’re producing serious content – 10 hours for free, 30 minutes live broadcasting at a time – but the first upgrade tier is really cheap for what you get ($4.99/month buys 100 hours of audio storage). The discovery features on the site look pretty nice too. I’m not sure if we’ll use this one (it does almost nothing that other sites don’t already do, other than the live broadcasting feature) but I’ll probably stick around on the site as a user.
Mixcrate is often mentioned right after Mixcloud in terms of SoundCloud alternatives. I’m absolutely baffled why. While it appears to be a site created specifically with DJs in mind, there are some bizarre limitations and quirks that severely limit its functionality.
The most obvious: a 190mb file size limit. Not for download – for uploading. More puzzling is that they otherwise provide unlimited storage. To get around this, Mixcrate’s FAQ suggests opening files in iTunes and downgrading the quality. A lot of places are going to play really crappy files transcoded into an even crappier bitrate. Here it can actually be kind of a requirement.
It also appears that Mixcrate does not have any apps – not for iOS, not for Android, nothing. And I guess this is by choice. They’re a site that wants you to upload music, but not let people stream it unless they’re in a browser. This will severely limit the site’s reach in the future and it will get worse every day as mobile use continues to grow.
But the weirdest thing is that unlike any other site on here, Mixcrate tracks are not embeddable. You can download and then, uh, upload to Mixcloud? Users have been asking for this for years but while promising it was on the agenda, Mixcrate appears content to keeping everything locked up in their walled garden, lacking functionality that YouTube had in 2005.
Someone help us out on this one?
And then some…
We have undoubtedly missed out on a bunch of services. Add yours and your experience with them in the comments.
Read more from this series on Soundcloud Alternatives.