People quite often get in touch with us via Twitter to let us know how they’re using SoundCloud. When UpMyAlley’s Joscha Creutzfeldt got in touch to tell us about his new label website we instantly fell in love with the way they’d presented their site, and more important their music! So we thought we’d get in touch with Joscha so he could tell us a bit more about signing artists, getting demos, the social web and why you should be concentrating on the music on your website – and beyond!
Tell us a bit more about the background to UpMyAlley. How long have you been going and where are you based?
UpMyAlley is based in Cologne, Germany and has been my outlet for various styles of music since summer 2006. I had a hard disk full of good, unreleased music that had accumulated over the years and I felt the need to release it. I still do everything myself sourcing new music & artists, artwork, website, promotion etc… one man army style.
The label’s sole premise is diverse musical quality with very high standards. A key part of our ethos is to try and release music by unknown artists instead of buying big names remixes or being just another one-stop for nomading artists. I strongly believe in continuity and quality over quantity. Within three years we’ve only released seven records including the latest by London based singer Shuanise which is out very soon. We also released two free download albums, Beatnicks Tape Vol.1 & 2 that can be found on our Soundcloud profile alongside all the other releases.
The website looks beautiful. What are you trying to do with it? What are the main goals?
Thanks! It has been way too long in the making, mainly because I had other work to do. But also because I wanted everything to be perfect, the way I myself as a “recordbuyer” or “generally interested person” would wish a labelpage to be like. We’d like to see the site as a place where anyone who’s interested can immediately find what he/she came there for. An overview and presentation of label related content with a clear focus on the releases & music, yet not neglecting small news and links to related content on other websites. Alongside offering every artist their own page with a bio, releases and booking information and the possibility to buy our releases and specials. We’re also trying to encourage people to spread our content through social networks and to get in contact with us through little details throughout the site.
I notice that you’re using Vimeo for your video clips and SoundCloud for audio. What made you pick these particular services?
They really go well hand in hand in my opinion. Alongside the fact that they both constantly improve and take constructive feedback seriously they offer great integration with Facebook and Twitter, which makes things easier in this here social world. Besides that I simply love the visual aspect and pure functionality of the embeddable players which exceed all others in my opinion. It’s great that any visitor enjoying a track or video can simply spread it themselves in various ways straight away if desired, one doesn’t even have to leave the page anymore. That’s how it’s supposed to be and the concept is working in my opinion.
I see more and more blogs using the SoundCloud player to present the tracks they are writing about. Also on Facebook the SoundCloud player shows up in my friend feed a couple of times every day, increasingly so. In our SoundCloud statistics it’s quite obvious that our tracks get played and downloaded way more often than people look at our profile, which is simply great as it’s evidence that our tracks are spreading somehow, magically.
Was it easy working with SoundCloud to host all the audio on the site? And what have been the main advantages?
It was incredibly easy to embed the player throughout the whole site as there are only two variables changing per set or track… That’s the player height and the track / set-id, you can fill these with individual custom field values in WordPress, Textpattern and the likes very quickly and the you’re good to go, kind of. The main advantage for our case was the easy use of sets, next to all the stuff I pointed out above. Spreading the music.
How else are you using SoundCloud?
Besides occasional messaging with other users we are using the dropbox to get music / demos sent across to us. Unfortunately we still get lots of filehosting links and songs sent across in emails, but i think (and hope) this will change within the not too distant future. Besides the usual, such as staying musically up to date on the people I follow, I recently discovered an extra long recording on SoundCloud for the first time, a five hour DJ set recording of a monthly party in NY called I Love Vinyl which was really good and a pleasure to listen to in one piece. Quite nice to upload such a huge chunk of music without having to split it up in parts as usual. I guess we should start recording our monthly label nights here in Cologne.
If you could give other labels just three tips on good website design, what would they be?
Probably my tips are not that design-related, I suggest reading some book for general design tips such as whitespace or choosing fonts. Hope they make some sense…
1) first off, I’d advise everyone to get their content right. Make sure you offer what the people come for, in this case: music first, presented right. Looking eternally for a small link that opens up a 30 second snippet.mp3 in the same window is not really satisfying. As long as that’s sorted then you can tackle everything else.
2) If you plan to set up a webshop, simply make it one with your release overview and ensure that buying a product is as easy as possible.
3) Use the social networks out there to spread the content of your website.
If you’re using SoundCloud in a nice way and have an interesting story to tell us then just drop us a reply on Twitter or drop us an email.