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SoundCloud and Why Music Production will Never Be the Same

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SoundCloud has become ubiquitous around the web as a source for DJs and new bands to upload their tracks and get some recognition and attention for their work. Game soundtracks like Hotline Miami and FTL: Faster Than Light found homes here, as well as new pop-rap acts like HyperCrush and Santigold. Hypem culls songs from music blogs all over the web, and those songs more often than not come from SoundCloud.

There is a movement away from SoundCloud, but the influx of uploads to the service suggest that more people than ever are trying their hands at making music. Electronic music is inexpensive to produce, and while musical knowledge is required, the bar for entry is much lower than for a standard musical instrument.

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Equipment Needed

Digital production requires a computer and a great microphone. Beyond that, you can add additional equipment like keyboards and synthesizers. Programs like Garage Band (andeven the Kinect) can simulate drum beats and add some percussion, but a drum machine is a welcome addition to any kit. Full production sets can have a mixing board incorporated with much more advanced technology.

Digital music production is about using the level of technology that is comfortable for you. An indie band can grab a few mattresses and soundproof a closet with a laptop and record some great music, while Kanye West puts out a studio masterpiece. The only difference is in technology and production values.

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Uploading Services

Any band needs a service for people to hear them, a way for users to find their music. SoundCloud satisfies that need with an easy-to-use uploading interface. Users can message music producers, and comment on tracks too. The result is a sound wave that highlights places where users talked about the song. SoundCloud allows users to download mixes that are posted there, assuming the copyright holder okays the download, and it comes with mobile applications for users on the go.

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Resistance to SoundCloud

Due to the terms and conditions of SoundCloud, there are some who would argue that the service is unreliable. The dreaded DMCA notice strikes again, leading to mixes getting pulled off the service. SoundCloud has become the source for new music, so DJs are tempted to visit the site for new music that has not been blogged about yet. It’s not just users downloading from producers, it’s musicians stealing each other’s work.

That aggressive enforcement of copyright has created a need for an alternative service where users can freely post their work without fear of piracy. Mixcloud has become an alternative haven for DJs looking to breaking into the scene. The service caters to the newbie, offering unlimited uploads and easy sharing options.

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Musical Training

The other barrier that exists–and why amateur music production will mostly stay amateur–is training and production value. Musicians can learn songs and teach themselves riffs, but think about it: professional drum lessons will create a better drummer than someone who spends time picking it up as they go along. Beginner music lessons are relatively inexpensive, but as knowledge increases the need for tools follows with it.

Better equipment for production, like mixers and better instruments become necessary as a group breaks into the scene. Some groups known for their amateur sound, like the White Stripes, rarely keep it for long.

Music Marketing Business

The more users that are listening to a track, the better an artist’s chance of selling albums. Producers know this, which is why SoundCloud, and services like it, will only continue to grow. The music marketing business will have to respond to an increasing demand for music one does not have to pay for. How artists will find profit for their work remains to be seen.

What do you think?