How Soundcloud Can Do Better
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How Soundcloud Can Do Better

Thanks to some eleventh-hour magic from Soundcloud executives, the streaming platform is here to stay. Music blogs have memed and speculated on this topic to death, but there are still plenty more unanswered questions. How will Soundcloud developers improve the user experience? How do they plan to make the service profitable? Who will invest in the company or buy it out?

In light of all these unanswered questions, this time of uncertainty is a perfect opportunity for Soundcloud‘s executives to reflect on the company’s future. Here’s how we think Soundcloud could improve.

Sell to Google.

Why Google? It seems like an oddly specific company to target for a buyout. Bear with us; it’ll make perfect sense.

Google already has the infrastructure for a subscription service. YouTube Red is available for a monthly fee of $9.99. Perks include an ad-free experience, as well as the ability to save videos on the mobile app. For music lovers, this is quite the blessing. Subscribers can download their favorite Boiler Room mixes and obscure tracks, but the perks don’t stop there.

YouTube Red also allows access to premium features for Google Play Music. It also lets users upload up to 20,000 songs from their personal libraries and actually cache the songs onto their phones through the mobile app. These features alone make the $9.99 monthly fee worthwhile.

Despite the multitude of perks, Spotify continues to greatly outpace Google in subscriber numbers. If Google buys out Soundcloud and include its premium features into the YouTube Red suite, it could be the turning point that vastly increases the subscriber count. A Google buyout also addresses the profitability issue. Thanks to its vast resources, it can afford to lose money on Soundcloud but also draw in a deluge of new subscribers. In the business world, this is called a loss leader. Google is in a perfect position to address any concerns about funding and profitability for Soundcloud in the long term.

Tie up loopholes, exploits, and ways to “rig” the system.

There’s an entire marketplace for artificially boosting plays and followers on Soundcloud. These exploits sabotage the grassroots philosophy of the platform, and harm up-and-coming artists that lack the resources to pay for artificial publicity. If there are ways to combat bot accounts and services that manipulate follower/play count, Soundcloud should spearhead efforts to tackle this issue.

Make it easier to comment on the mobile app.

Soundcloud Blog

This improvement is a simple change to enact. Implementation of this feature is relatively simple. Currently, iOS users are unable to leave comments on streams, and Android users must go through a convoluted process to leave comments. At this point, any kind of improvement of the commenting feature on the mobile app would be a blessing.

End infinite scrolling.

Infinite scrolling consumes memory on desktops. Instead, the desktop version should offer several options to view a set number of items per page. It might even be worth implementing this feature in the mobile app. Another simple fix to implement.

Multiple feeds improve navigation and reduce clutter.

Here’s an example. On any given day, Rinse FM posts a lot of mixes. Although this provides plenty of content for users to listen to, it gets overwhelming to scroll through a mass of Rinse FM posts to view posts from other artists. Allowing users to create feeds (similar to the “list” function on Twitter) can make browsing a lot more focused and a lot less tedious.

Treat employees better.

Soundcloud founders Alex Ljung and Eric Wahlforss have a responsiblity to fix the company’s practices. / Mass EDMC

This might be the most important point of critique. Soundcloud‘s management forever tarnished the company’s reputation by laying off 40% of its staff with little to no warning. Sure, they assured the public that they would facilitate the transition process for laid off employees. But the very short notice incurs unexpected costs for former staff and a lot of anxiety about future job prospects.

It seems the company unnecessarily hired new staff for the sake of optics. In order to maintain the illusion of growth and prosperity, they continued to bring in new hires without establishing a long-term plan first. This sort of rationale is endemic to start-up culture, but it’s still no excuse. Rather than keep up appearances, the company should have enacted a hiring freeze until it found a means to become more profitable.

Going forward, Soundcloud must engage in more responsible hiring practices in order to rehabilitate its image. Only then will it wash out the sour taste that it left behind in the startup world.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the streaming platform.

Despite the myriad of issues, Soundcloud is still the best streaming platform that provides a convergence point for music lovers, artists, and industry professionals. The commenting function allows users to communicate directly with artists. The “follow” feature lets fans keep track of the latest releases from their favorite artists, labels, and podcasts. The auto-queue lets users discover new music and mixes based on similar tastes.

If Soundcloud takes the initiative to innovate rather than remain stagnant, it can truly be the best music streaming platform out there, bar none. Executives and developers, take these critiques to heart.

Feature image courtesy of AP Images.

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