With new music streaming services being released all the time, it can be rather difficult for one to truly differentiate itself from the masses … to stand out as a unique and necessary service. It is not enough to simply stream songs anymore. That’s been done, time and time again. Nowadays, if you want to make a music streaming app, you need to have some kind of unique edge, you have to be doing something that nobody else has done before. Or, at the very least, you have to somehow do it in a way it’s never been done before.
One avenue that people have tried to take in order to accomplish this is by attempting to bring radio into the digital age. Some people have attempted to do this rather literally, by merely offering a live stream of local radio stations. And others have taken elements of the radio listening experience and embellished or improved upon them, making the most of them in the modern age. Examples of this would include iHeart Radio or Pandora. They allow the listener to create customizable radio stations, tailored to a users’ own unique taste and interests.
But even these kinds of contemporary spins on the traditional radio model are growing tired by now, as we work our way into 2020. Just when you think that everything’s been done before, luckily, you stumble upon a new site that is doing something completely different in the music space. A site that goes beyond mere streams of songs and albums and offers a fresh spin on an old relic of radio.
The site I’m talking about, of course, is Mix Cloud – a British streaming service that managed to find a new and interesting angle in the world of music streaming services.
Maybe you remember listening to FM radio shows. Perhaps you would turn on a familiar voice to accompany you on your way to work in the morning? Maybe you came to admire certain radio personalities. Well, Mix Cloud saved what was a dying art form – in the radio show format – and gave it a place to flourish.
The problem with radio programs of the past were the fact that you were limited to only a couple based on your locality. Mix Cloud made it possible, though, for anyone, anywhere to not only tune into independent radio shows from anywhere around the world, but to broadcast their own as well. Thanks to Mix Cloud, anyone can partake in pirate radio in the 21st century. But we’ll get deeper into all that Mix Cloud enables a little later on. For now, let’s explore how Mix Cloud came to be.
Mix Cloud began as a lean startup, as it is called, in 2008. The founders of Mix Cloud, Nico Perez and Nikhil Shah met on campus at the University of Cambridge. Shortly thereafter, developers Sam Cooke and Mat Clayton were added to the team.
The site had a bit of a meteoric rise. Within just five years, Mix Cloud was able to generate over 3 million active users, along with 500,000 users who were registered through Facebook. And in October of 2017, Mix Cloud signed a licensing deal with Warner Music – for those of you in the know about the music industry, then you are already aware: this is no small feat. Mix Cloud doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down either.
Let’s see … how can I most accurately describe Mix Cloud’s site design … hm … I think it is probably best depicted as a sort of cross between Sound Cloud and Facebook. What I mean by this, is that Mix Cloud employs a gentle blue and white theme with a very prominent news feed at the front and center of all activity on the site. However, it is music-based and an audio streaming app, so when you click into profiles, you will find a list of playable audio which is very reminiscent of Sound Cloud.
The site, overall, is very intuitive and easy to use. Especially for anyone who is already familiar with social networking sites and/or sites like Sound Cloud. To the right of your news feed, you will find a few suggested People to Follow. The more people that you follow, the smarter these suggestions will become. To the left of the news feed, you will be able to quickly navigate a site menu bar and user toolbox consisting of the following options: Feed, New Shows, Favorites, History, Listen Later, Playlists, and Trending.
Whatever you need to access on this site, you can do so without having to do any digging whatsoever. That’s what I like to see in terms of site design, especially from a site like this, that can get you lost down a rabbit hole with ease. It’s always nice to have a quick link back home.
This is where Mix Cloud differentiates itself the most from all other music and audio streaming services on the market. In the nature of its content. It is a very unique format that Mix Cloud caters to, so, beware that it may not be for everyone. If you are the type of person, for instance, that likes to be in full control of what you are listening to at all times, from one song to the next, there is a good chance that Mix Cloud will not be for you.
Mix Cloud is a massive online network and community of DJs, radio show hosts, podcasters, and listeners. If you think that you have what it takes to put together a block of radio programming, be it mostly music or mostly talking, Mix Cloud is where you can put yourself to the test. See how many fans you can amass.
Mix Cloud is great for bringing amateur DJs and podcasters into the limelight, helping them to gain experience. In fact, if you are talented and savvy enough, you could potentially finance your radio dream via Mix Cloud, as it enables for crowdsourced funding. So, not only can people simply follow your page like a social media account, but if they really like what you do, they can subscribe to your content for X dollars per month (the broadcaster sets the price).
This is another way in which Mix Cloud is nothing like any other music streaming service out there – it takes full advantage of crowdsourcing … which is great news for the DJs, hosts, and podcasters. But it is also great news for the listeners as well. Because you don’t have to pay for the service in general, just the content that you really, genuinely enjoy and want to support.
Desktop and Mobile Experience
I am a huge fan of desktop experience. I think it’s a great example of intuitive site design (which is not always easy to pull off when your site has a social media component to it). You can easily just roll your Facebook account into a Mix Cloud account, too, which is very convenient.
The app, however, leaves a bit to be desired. Sure, the design is fine. It is also intuitive and easy to use. However, there seem to be many bugs and glitches to contend with. These, of course, mar the listening experience to the point of frustration.
Sometimes, for instance, pausing a mix will result in you losing your place in the mix, meaning that you have to manually scrub through to find where you were before you paused. This is one of those flaws that seem very basic and should have been addressed long before the app ever launched.
Pricing and Plans
Well, Mix Cloud is a freemium service. If you wanted, you could never pay a dime (save for the shows you wish to support). However, the free version comes with limitations such as only being able to seek forward in a mix, only being able to play 3 shows every 2 weeks, and having to put up with ads.
The Premium version of Mix Cloud, on the other hand, costs $7.99 a month and, of course, gets rid of all of these limitations. Plus, it allows you to see tracklists of radio shows upfront before you play them (another thing that the free version does not allow).
Suggestions that I have for Mix Cloud
The main suggestion that I have for Mix Cloud is this: fix. Your. App. I want to be able to enjoy my favorite radio shows on the go with no glitches. Especially if I pay money monthly for this service. This is, in my opinion, unacceptable.
Also, I know that Mix Cloud is supposed to be all about radio shows, but it would be great if there were some way that I could also stream and download individual songs outside of listening to shows. You already have the deal with Warner, why not try and expand and see if you can get a decent catalog going? If I could just listen to Mix Cloud without ever having to switch over to Spotify, that would be awesome, right?