Author Archives: Adams

Adams Fat Cat Recordings: The DropBox Feature

An independent label based in Brighton on England’s South Coast, FatCat Records started as a shop in Crawley (then London) specialising in all forms of electronic music. Now an established label, FatCat releases an eclectic range of music on their two sub-labels (Splinter series: Silje Nes, Animal Collective, Our Brother The Native. 130701 Records: Max Richter, Hauschka, Sylvain Chauveau, Set Fire To Flames) as well as their main FatCat label (Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Vashti Bunyan, David Karsten Daniels, Nina Nastasia…). FatCat are now 21 years old, and in the heart of a typically prolific year are busy with 2010’s schedule which includes 13 albums, 16 singles and 2 EP’s.

“Based in Brighton, indie label FatCat Records has grown into one of the most celebrated stables for emerging and established talent in the UK.” Drowned In Sound

We caught up with Tom Lavis from FatCat and asked him about how he has been using SoundCloud and the DropBox feature in their working life.

1) How long have you been using SoundCloud?

Not long – only about four months. But it’s already made a difference to how we work with demo submissions. We’re really excited about it, I don’t think it will be long until we release our first album sourced through SoundCloud.

2) You have been keenly using the DropBox feature. What was your process before using the SoundCloud demo DropBox?

Before SoundCloud we were receiving demos through the post, on CD, vinyl and tape. We still do – it just means we get twice as many submissions, which is great. We did used to get emailed links to myspace pages etc but we found that they sometimes got lost in our inboxes. The DropBox is much better… all the tracks are in the same place, we just have to press play and carry on working whilst the tracks play through.

3) How has SoundCloud eased the process of receiving demos than in the past?

It has eased the process of receiving demos, but we still very much enjoy receiving cd’s through the post and wouldn’t want that to stop. It’s added a refreshing and exciting new element to the type of demo we get. The tracks we get in the dropbox are from a wider range of influences.

Like I mentioned above – listening to the tracks we receive through our dropbox couldn’t be more simple. It’s certainly easier than opening packages and logging in CD’s.

4) Are there any creative ways you are looking to use this influx of music received through your SoundCloud DropBox?

Well, of course we would love to release some – which will certainly happen. The standard so far has been way higher than the average standard of our physical submissions.

For the moment we’re just adding our favourite tracks to our demo player on the FatCat site and myspace. We want these talented artists to get some recognition – so it’s important to us to get them some exposure.

We’re also thinking of releasing some soundcloud curated compilation of the best demos we’ve received through soundcloud. We released a CD called ‘No Watches. No Maps’ a long time ago which was a compilation of the best demos we got through the post, we’d like to do a part two which would be made up of entirely SoundCloud submitted demos.
At the moment we’re running a remix competition – we have put the stems of a David Karsten Daniels & Fight The Big Bull track on soundcloud, anyone can go in and download them and then have a go at remixing the song by submitting through the group dropbox – there’s still 2 weeks left and 15 remixes in. We’re hoping to do remix comps for a lot of our forthcoming releases.

5) What tips can you give for artists sending you tracks through to your DropBox?

Don’t drop in more than 2 tracks, make sure they’re the ones you’re most happy with. If we don’t get back to you or put your music up, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t submit some more stuff in the future.

We like all kinds of music, so don’t think that what you do might not be for us. Also – don’t worry about your track sounding under-produced or too rough, some of the bands we’ve signed in the past started out by sending us very lo-fi demos recorded with 1 mic in a cupboard… sometimes these ones are the best.

Go check out FatCat on SoundCloud and the David Karsten Daniels & Fight The Big Bull remix competition!

Adams How to Integrate a Secret Widget into a Promo Page

SoundCloud can be a really great tool for getting your music privately and securely to journalists, DJ’s and other key promotional contacts. In previous blog posts we’ve shown you how to do this by using our private sharing features or via a secret link. But sometimes you want to take people straight to your own website and do your own private promo there.

Well you can do this with SoundCloud too by using our secret widget feature. This allows you to keep your tracks totally private on SoundCloud but still grab a player widget that you can embed on your own promo page. From the promo page you can collect your own feedback, add extra promotional material such as tour dates, press shots and other related media. But still use a great looking SoundCloud player to stream and show off your tracks to the fullest. In this tutorial we’ll show you exactly what to do in four easy steps.

1) Set up your private release

Upload all the tracks to SoundCloud as part of a ‘set’ and make sure you remember to include as much metadata as possible eg. release date, descriptions and artwork. Then set the track to private. When a track is private a secret link and embed code for a secret widget are automatically created with every track.

Next you’ll need to set all the correct privacy options. Change your privacy options to make comments private and hide the stats. This is optional but you probably don’t want a journalist seeing other people’s comments or how many other people have listened to the track.

2) Embed the secret widget to your promo page

Now you’ve setup your player you’ll want to add it to your own site. In our example we’ll use a WordPress blog as it’s easy to setup and you can easily password-protect your promo page. To embed the player:

i) go to the private set that you’ve created on SoundCloud and click ‘Share’
ii) grab the embed code for the player you wish to embed. We highly recommend the Artwork player.
iii) edit the embed code in order to turn off sharing. ie. to make sure the secret widget is just shared to your promo page.

For this last step you’ll need to add the following parameter twice in your embed code: sharing=false
Here is what the resulting code looks like:

<object classid=”clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000″ width=”550″ height=”275″ codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0″><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><param name=”src” value=”http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fdavid-adams%2Fsets%2Fholy-yell-sessions%2Fs-0M74F&amp;auto_play=false&amp;player_type=artwork&amp;sharing=false&amp;color=d26e6d” /><embed type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”550″ height=”275″ src=”http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fdavid-adams%2Fsets%2Fholy-yell-sessions%2Fs-0M74F&amp;auto_play=false&amp;player_type=artwork&amp;sharing=false&amp;color=d26e6d” allowscriptaccess=”always”>

So now the Secret Widget appears like this:

For more customization options you can read our Hacking The SoundCloud Player tutorial.

3) Setup your promo page

Within this promo page you can add lots more things such as
i) Press material. For example quotes, press shots, tour dates etc.
ii) Additional media. For example video from Youtube or Vimeo
iii) Reaction forms. This is actually very easy to do using a service such as Forms in Google Docs. All replies to your Google Form are stored in a Google Docs spreadsheet.  You can even set the form up so that you get sent an email every time someone leaves feedback. And also have it leave a custom message for the person leaving feedback too.

Here is an example of a promo page with some of these features added:

4) Invite contacts to your promo page

With the promo page ready to highlight all the key facts around the release it is now how you wish to spread the word about this page. The page could simply be part of your blog which is the only place you access the promotional material and is for public viewing.

Or you may want to restrict access to the promo page by setting up password protection of some type. In our example we used WordPress (more info here) .

But most other blogging services have password protection of some kind. And it should be fairly easy for your webmaster to setup password protection on any HTML page if you’re using your own website.

You can check out this example promo page with password protection here. (The password is ‘Kaboom’. Ssshhh, don’t tell anyone!)

With the added safety of a password on the promo page alongside the secret widget on SoundCloud, without being granted a link with a password it is a safe position to share promotional material, such as adding download options to your secret Widget. At this point the choices are completely up to you on how you present your page.

But hopefully we’ve shown you how the Secret widget can be used with other free and easy to use tools in order to create a promo page that is totally secure and uses SoundCloud. For using a Secret Widget in the fashion of the example you will need the the use of the artwork player which is available as a premium feature to those with lite accounts and higher.

Adams How to send digital promos via email using the ‘secret link’

As we’ve highlighted before, SoundCloud is an excellent way to send music privately to your contacts without having to send bulky attachments via email or use ugly, generic file-sharing and FTP services. And of course without having to send CD’s, which are expensive and arguably not very environmentally friendly.

More and more music PR’s, pluggers and labels are starting to use SoundCloud now to send out their digital promos. So we thought we’d put together a quick post about it. There’s three easy steps to show you:

1) Use SoundCloud to create a fantastic looking promo
2) Grab your secret link to give quick and easy access
3) Prepare your own email and include the  link
4) Collect feedback with regular and ‘timed’ comments

1) Prepare Your Promo

When you send a promo using SoundCloud you’re not just sending them a bunch of files, you’re also giving them access to a clean simple page where they can preview the music, download hi-res artwork, information like release dates and catalogue numbers, even video and buy links if you have them. You should make sure you complete as much as you can while you upload the tracks.

You can choose whether you want to just give someone streaming access or let them download the original file as well, should they wish. We support all audio file types so you can send any bit-rate MP3 or even lossless WAV or AIFF. For further information, this blog post has all the info on our new sharing flow.

2) The Secret Link

The ‘Secret Link’ is a free feature available to all our usesrs so this is much cheaper than many other digital promo solutions. When you decide to turn a track to private in the settings option a secret link is automatically created.

Selecting this option means that your music will remain totally private, won’t show up on your SoundCloud profile and is not searchable. But you can send a secret link to anyone and give them immediate access to the music by clicking ‘share’ on your uploaded track and grabbing the secret link. They don’t even need to sign up (although you can do this with our other private sharing options if you wish).

The link will not expire and there is no limit to the number of people who can stream or check the music. However you can deactivate or refresh the link at any time should you wish to block access from anyone who you’ve sent the link to previously. You can go back to grab the Secret Link at any time by clicking ‘share’ and copying and pasting from the track/set page on SoundCloud.

3) Send Out The Secret Link

Now of course you’re going to want to send out the secret link to your own database of press, radio, DJ and other industry contacts. You’ve hopefully already added all the information the recipient will need to the promo’s page on SoundCloud but you might want to add some more personal information or extra things like tour dates, contact numbers etc. You already know what works best so we’ll leave that completely up to you! All you need to do is add the secret link prominently in the mailout so that the recipient can click through and immediately start listening to the actual music. Busy journalists don’t want to have to sit their and download a zip to their desktop before they can even check the release out! To take this one step further, you can use the secret link within email marketing services such as Campaign Monitor.

If you’re sending a track and you want them to be able to download it directly from the email then you can do this to. Just take the secret link and add ‘/download/’ in the middle like this:

Secret Link: http://soundcloud.com/inspirit-music/pushin-west-of-centre-remix/s-0oJzD
Secret Download Link: http://soundcloud.com/inspirit-music/pushin-west-of-centre-remix/download/s-0oJzD

4) Get Feedback

By using SoundCloud we also allow you to collect feedback directly on the page for your promo. As well as just leaving general comments the recipients can actually leave feedback directly in the track by using the ‘timed comments’ on our waveform player. Nice.

Of course, if you’re sending your promo to a lot of different people then you’ll probably want to hide these comments so they’re for your eyes only. You can hide the play counts too.