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Additions 23 January 2024

The truly amazing… SoundCloud…

By Thomas (2000 Underground Music)

It is the new year 2024, and we are doing quite a bit of writing. Looking and thinking about the past. Yes SoundCloud… and there is an ellipsis (3 dot punctuation mark), quite right indeed! We would like to talk about SoundCloud.

Early days when they started

I think they started to be used by the house and techno industry, about 2008. They were founded on the 27 August 2007 (Wikipedia, 2024). I have to say, what they did then and do now is amazing, their service is very very good. I have had very few or no bad user experiences, webpages have always download, and large MP3 or WAV files download fast, there is no semi or lower-end bandwidth speed introduced at any stage either. Amazing is it not? It allows so much great stuff to happen, we do not even think about it, or even acknowledge it, because it works so well, and this is the magic.

2016 website redesign

They went through quite a savage and severe redesign around 2016, going from their light blueish design, to the new orange-themed design (as used in 2024). The new redesign around 2016, was met with mixed responses, some liked the new design, some did not and were not that sure… But we feel that in the long term, it was not so bad, and still functions well.

Standout service qualities, that totally make and define their excellent technology service

Apart from the obvious great qualities, we really like their privacy and spam policy. So with comments, you can delete your comment. You can report spam comments to SoundCloud, and you can block people who try to wreak you. I mean this is really great, it gives the user (us), the control to fix and sort things, at our own will and understanding. I cannot stress out important this is. If SoundCloud was full of bad stuff and misinformation, and did not allow good users to do this, their service would decay, and their corporate identity, branding and perception would deteriorate. And that is not it, as of November 2023, they now have a double layer on spam comments, using an external Cloudflare security device against spam comments, I mean this is really notable. So the 1st time you try and comment, a Cloudflare webpage appears, and it checks if you are a bot, are real or are genuine or not!, as well as what they already have in place. I can only assume that this is a top-level founder, director, or management choice, because it goes above and beyond what is normal and generally required.

Cloudflare

We really like SoundCloud and hope it continues for a long time. We pay I think, £90 a year for unlimited use, it is very cheap and very good value for money. Website hosting companies would charge you, probably £1000 a year, for the bandwidth use of a typical low bandwidth user, although many website hosting companies offer as standard now, unlimited hosting (upload and downloads), but it was not always like this. 10 years ago, the typical website hosting bandwidth allowance, was about 20 GB a month, and if you go over it, your website is paused, given a downtime branded holding webpage, until you pay the extra overuse fee. When we start to talk about £90 a year for medium or heavy bandwidth users, the £90 becomes as valuable as paying £1 a year for what they offer and allow. They could charge high-end users easily £1000 or even £2000 a year for the service they offer (and I am not joking). The cost of heavy bandwidth use is serious money, business, and takes a lot of technical maintenance (both by internal staff website coders and server staff).

Another great feature, that is heavily used, is the ability to comment on a very precise part of music (a track, mix or podcast), to a precision of 1 second. It has always been a great feature, and is really social, promoting for the large part, good social interactions, and support for the musician and DJ, who made the music.

Amazing search features and then sub-customisable search options.

Berlin and their company headquarters

SoundCloud have always been based mainly in Berlin, Germany, seems quite good, considering Berlin since around the year 2000, became the techno capital of the world (for more on this area, see the book Coming to Berlin: Global Journeys Into an Electronic Music & Club Culture Capital (Hanford, 2022)).

Photograph of the front of the building, that shows 6 floor level, the bottom 4 are in a light brown brick, then the top 2, are glass. Looks like an office block made out of square windows and rooms.

Factory Berlin, is home to the headquarters of SoundCloud, located in Factory Berlin-Mitte, Rheinsberger Straße 76/77, 10115 Berlin, Germany.

Photograph by Ansgar Koreng (1 May 2015), distributed under a CC0 3.0 Deed license, adapted, from https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factory_Berlin.

Founders of SoundCloud were
  • Alexander Ljung.
  • Eric Wahlforss.
Key people today
  • Alexander Ljung (chairman and co-founder).
  • Antonious Porch (chief diversity officer).
  • Drew Wilson (chief operating officer, chief financial officer).
  • Eliah Seton (president).
  • Lauren Wirtzer-Seawood (chief commercial officer, chief marketing officer).
  • Mike Weissman (chief executive officer).
Employees
  • Around 425 (as of 2021).
There are alternatives to SoundCloud

Data and bandwidth going through SoundCloud on a daily basis

The data transfer and bandwidth going through the SoundCloud website on a daily basis, and especially considering they allow WAV downloads, that are on average 1GB a file for 60 minutes!, is unthinkable and uncalculatable, it must be truly unbelievable. They have 320 million tracks, from 40 million artists. It is very hard to say, there are more than 76 million users monthly (as of November 2021) (Wikipedia, 2024). An average computer in 2024, comes with about a 4 TB (terabyte) drive. 1 TB is the same as 1000 GB (gigabytes). Around 2003, most computers only had a 100 GB hard drive… (⅒ of a 1 TB). There has to be, what… more than 1 TB (terabyte) data transfer going through their website every second?, at the very least. And then this value is rising year-after-year. The average downloading speed of internet connections in 2024 (Hougen, 2023), is about 60 MB per second so:

  • There is 1000 MB in 1 GB.
  • 1000 GB in 1 TB…
  • The average computer sold in 2024, comes with a 4 TB drive.
  • SoundCloud data transfer through their website is at least 1 TB per second… There are 1,000,000 MB (1 million megabytes) in 1 TB.
  • The average internet connection speed in the year 2000, was 4 KBPS (kilobytes per second). There are 1000 KB (kilobytes) in 1 MB (megabyte).

Possible improvements

  • Longer text character length support, for information below a track or mix, so in the description section. In January 2024, it is currently set to 4000 characters, that is not that much, sometimes you want more.
  • 1 of the issues that keeps arising from time-to-time, is the ability, or lack of ability, to sell music on SoundCloud, or get paid for plays and downloads. I did get an email from them recently, about something to do with this, but have not heard anyone raving about it. Someone could say, ‘that is not what they do’, and ‘they cannot do everything’. Someone else could say ‘well, maybe they might in the future’.

Final observations

SoundCloud ‘the technology you do not even think about, and what it enables is amazing’.

We read a press release about them, around 2016 [unable to find the exact reference], and it said something like ‘SoundCloud is quietly doing a great job’.

These are our thoughts anyway.

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