Soundcloud from a dj point of view

I love soundcloud but it has a few issues if your a dj and are uploading mixes like I am.

Before I run through them, I want to make sure people understand this isn’t a startup assassination, soundcloud is a dream come true but its not perfect for people uploading mixes. Hopefully this will help improve there service after my tweet on Thursday. Its also worth mentioning that Alex Meyers recommended Mixcloud which seems to be a sound cloud knock off but aimed at djs and radio producers. I’ve yet to really try it out, but I’ll try and give it a shot before posting this blog entry.

Terminology and comments

Here is my latest mix, the geometry set. Soundcloud does a excellent job displaying the waveform, and allowing you to add comments to a part of the track but the terminology is wrong. This isn’t a track, its a mix or some would say a set. Which confuses things even further. Also adding comments to a 60mins mix is tricky at this level. Now before you tell me you can zoom in as such, the point is that comments on a 60-180min mix is kind of a bit of a joke when looking at the wave form like this.

Talking about termology again… What record label do you put the mix under? What catalogue number? What Key and even what BPM? I know there all optional pieces of metadata but it all adds up to a service not very friendly towards mixes.

There use to be an option under type for mixes but thats now gone. The best option I can use to put my mixes under a type is recording or live. Why did mix go away?

Sets and playlists?

Unless you were to upload all your tracks to soundcloud and add them one by one, it seems to be frankly impossible to add a playlist. I end up copying my playlist from a my *.nfo file to the comment field. Ideally Soundcloud would have support for the metadata which dcloud, mixccomes from systems like VirtualDj, Tractor, etc. If not allow me to specify when mixes start and finish. The Pacemaker software I use does actually do this but I want to transfer that metadata over to the web. This may be a problem which can be solved while were hacking the pacemaker.

What I see other people do is add comments to specify the areas of a mix, but to be frank its a bit of a hack and not a very good one at that. Here’s Mark Schouls latest and greatest as a example of how the comment area can be used to hack/divide the mix up.

Even the lets mix has this ability to define a playlist/tracklist by using the metadata of the software your using or allowing you to edit it yourself. Here’s me editing my own mix, one step beyond entropy.

It seems like a hassle but to be honest, if I’m uploading a mix roughly once a month, its going to be worth me doing the hardwork of filling this stuff in. And heck if soundcloud can automaticlly work this out by uploading a file of some kind, even better.

Interestingly Mixcloud does the time stamping straight after you upload a mix. I’ve yet to see how effective it is, but at least it has the option baked into its DNA.

Downloads

I love that Soundcloud supports Creative commons licenses but what bugs me is that you can only upload one type of item. So if for example I upload a Ogg Vorbis file, soundcloud will ask you if you would like to allow them to create a mp3 of that file for the flash player. Great but if you go to download that file (rights permitted, you have to enable this) it will only give the person the choice of the file you uploaded first time. Aka you upload a Ogg, you can only download a Ogg, not the Mpeg3. Even worst you can’t upload multiple files, say for example a low quality version for people to download and a high quality version for those on a better connection.

I usually upload a Mpeg3 because its the most universal, although my pacemaker generates Ogg Vorbis files. I would however like the ability for the Soundcloud to generate alternative versions or for me to upload alternative versions of the same mix.

I would really pay to see an option to dump files to Archive.org because although I like soundcloud, I don’t really trust them to host my files forever. Just like Blip.TV, if its a public or creative commons piece of media, the option should be there to send it to archive.org.

My other concerns are so very small and not really worthy airing in this blog post. But to give you an idea of what I mean, the flash uploader certainly winds me up sometimes. I know theres a html (old skool) uploader but its also a pain to use when uploading a massive mix. Tiny things, nothing major.

End of the day

Soundcloud is great but its really not a great place to put mixes, they could almost do another sound cloud site change a few things around including the business model and make it just for mixes. In actual fact when Alex Myers said about mixcloud, I did think it was soundcloud but setup for mixes.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.