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What Do You Want in a Music Streaming Service?

There are so many different ways to discover and listen to music these days. Frankly, it can be more than a little overwhelming to figure out which ones to use. This is especially true when you take into account the fact that the majority of them aren’t free – at least not if you want to have an enjoyable listening experience unencumbered by ads.

Sure, most of the music streaming sites out there to choose from do operate on a freemium platform, but in most cases, the free version comes with a lot of costs (they just aren’t monetary). Your features will be severely limited, you won’t be able to listen to all content, and, as we’ve already established, you’ll have to sit through annoying ads after every 2 or 3 songs.

This is why it is crucial that, before you decide on which music streaming services you want to give your money (and time) to, you figure out the answer to one simple question: what do you want to get out of it. Each music streaming platform, of course, privileges something different. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be separate platforms.

Spotify, for instance, is great for listeners who want to discover new music and enjoy customized playlists that are created for them by a complex algorithm based on their listening habits. Tidal is for the audiophile with a finely tuned ear for sound quality, or the hardcore music fan who wants to have exclusive access to certain content like live-streamed performances and early album releases that cannot be found on any other service. Pandora, on the other hand, will be for anyone who enjoys and perhaps misses listening to the radio and is looking for a fun, less actively involved role in their listening experience.

So, what is it that you want or need out of a music streaming service? Are you primarily a fan, or are you also a musical artist yourself? Do you prefer mainstream pop hits, or do you find yourself looking for more obscure, underground artists to listen to? Do you enjoy using social media on a regular basis? Do you think you would like it if your music streaming service of choice also had a built-in social network element to it?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then there is a good chance that Sound Cloud is the right streaming platform for you. Especially if you are both a fan and a musical artist. Sound Cloud is unlike any other music streaming service out there, as it is comprised mostly of artists, producers, and DJs who are networking with one another, listening just as often as they are posting music of their own. It is a mutually beneficial streaming service, for fans and artists alike. And, honestly, if you are pursuing a music career of your own, Sound Cloud is going to be a necessary site for you to have a presence on.

The Largest Music Streaming Service in the World?

Sound Cloud was founded in 2007 in Berlin, Germany by Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss. In just over a decade, though, it has rapidly grown into one of the largest music streaming services in the world.

Today, it boasts 175 million monthly listeners and 75 million monthly subscribed users around the globe. This is no small feat … especially for a music streaming platform that features, primarily, lesser-known and up and coming artists. This meteoric rise to success must have been achieved, then, one would think, through offering an excellent freemium music streaming service, right? Well, let’s take a look for ourselves and see.

From the moment you log in, the site design might be a little hard to navigate at first. It’s a bit cluttered compared to other music streaming services, which tend to go for a more minimalist approach. Then again, most other music streaming platforms don’t do nearly as much as Sound Cloud does – so, we can forgive the clutter, I think, especially considering the fact that, once you get the hang of how to move around the site, it becomes as simple as any other. Just a matter of getting the hang of it.

One of the reasons for the clutter is because, as I briefly touched upon earlier, Sound Cloud is more than just a music streaming site. It is a hybrid streaming service and social network … so they have a lot of data and features to try and fit onto a single page. The way that they’ve opted to do this is to place their music steaming features in the center of the page, their social network features on the right-hand side, and an ever-present music player spanning the bottom of the page, convenient and not in the way.

In the middle, you’ll find a list of newly featured music, a section that allows you to browse the Sound Cloud charts by genre, top playlists, some suggested songs based on your listening habits, a new arrivals corner (usually dedicated to bigger artists), and trending songs for you to check out. In the social networking section of your home page, you’ll find suggestions of who to follow, as well as your own listening history. There is a lot going on as I said, but once you get used to it, it’s nothing to be intimidated about.

Free Version for Fans; Pro Version for Serious Artists

So, let’s address another issue that I brought up earlier regarding Sound Cloud being primarily geared towards artists. This is not to say that there won’t be more than enough for you to enjoy as a listener. But if you are planning to use Sound Cloud as a casual fan, there is probably no need for you to upgrade to a paid account. You can just enjoy the site for free without any notable issues that will degrade your experience.

However, if you are an artist and are considering creating a Sound Cloud account, I highly recommend going with the Sound Cloud Pro Unlimited account. It will cost a little bit more than, say, Spotify each month … it’s $12 a month billed yearly, or $16 per month billed monthly. So, it is certainly not cheap. But if you are a musician and are serious about taking your craft and career to the next level, chances are it will be a worthy investment. Sound Cloud, after all, has been responsible for launching numerous successful artists’ careers.

With a Sound Cloud Pro membership, you can upload an unlimited amount of any type of audio (whereas the free version limits you to 3 hours of playback). You can also schedule releases, be featured on Sound Cloud’s spotlight (AKA gain more exposure), be offered discounts on industry-standard tools and software, monetize your tracks and take advantage of exclusive Sound Cloud promotional opportunities, as well as distribute your releases across all major streaming platforms, all through Sound Cloud. Essentially, paying for a Sound Cloud Pro account is essentially like giving yourself all of the tools of a record label while still being able to remain independent and keep your profits. If you are serious about taking your career to the next level, I highly recommend looking into Sound Cloud Pro.

However, maybe you aren’t as concerned with growing a music career of your own. If you are a fan and want to discover tons of new music that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else, Sound Cloud’s free version is going to be perfect. You will be able to discover tons of music, comment on people’s songs, follow your favorite artists, and even send direct messages to show your appreciation.

Over 165 Million Songs!

Oh, speaking of “tons of music,” Sound Cloud may just be the largest music streaming platform in the world. Whereas Spotify has 30 million songs, Apple Music has 45 million, and Tidal has 60 million; none of them come anywhere close to competing with Sound Cloud’s quantity. With 125 million songs for you to choose from, you will never run out of new tunes to vibe to. Plus, of course, new songs are being added to Sound Cloud all the time; so, that number is bound to be even higher by the time you create your account.

All in all, Sound Cloud may not be the most convenient or easiest to navigate music streaming service that there is, but it is certainly the largest. It has music from all of your favorite big-named artists, as well as countless tracks from underground and up and coming acts that you have yet to hear about.

If you want an enormous music streaming service that doubles as a social network, Sound Cloud’s free version is for you. And if you are looking to grow as an artist and step your music career up to the next level, you should definitely look into Sound Cloud Pro for $14 a month. Either way, Sound Cloud is a win-win, for fans and artists alike.

Likes & Hates:
165 million songs (and growing)
Social network and music streaming site all in one
Tons of indie and established artists
Great way to grow your career as an artist
Mobile friendly (app)
Cluttered site design
Pro version somewhat expensive