Tag Archives: Friday Fun

David Friday Fun: Meet Dave Haynes

For this Friday’s employee interview, we spoke to Dave Haynes, our business development guy in London. Although he’s stationed remotely in the UK, Dave’s presence is ever strong here in our Berlin office. Here’s what he has to say…

How did you come to work at SoundCloud?

I first linked up with SoundCloud just after it had launched in private beta. It was spring 2008 and in my spare time I was doing quite a bit of writing and was in the process of researching a piece on upcoming digital music services such as Songkick, Songza and of course SoundCloud. I was already a big fan of Eric’s (founder and CTO) as he’d been writing some super smart blog posts of his own that really summed up how I felt myself about the development of digital music. So it was really exciting to chat over Skype and hear all about SoundCloud’s future plans.

So anyway, I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but at some point I went over to Berlin to meet properly with both Eric and Alex and said that I’d love to try and help spread the word about SoundCloud. And things just went from there really. I’m extremely lucky in that I’m really passionate about what we do and get to work with such an amazing team of people!!

As an aside, some years prior to SoundCloud, I owned and ran a local record store and I remember over-ordering an album that Eric made as Forss, called Soulhack because I was a big fan of that too. I’m sure I still have at least two copies of the CD at home. Ha!

What do you do for SoundCloud?

My official job title is VP Business Development but for some reason I always cringe when I say it. Really it just means I get to speak to a lot of awesome people about why they should be using SoundCloud. This quite often means conversations with different people in the music industry, from labels to managers to media. But one of the things I love about SoundCloud is that I get to do all sorts of people about all sorts of things. There’s quite a bit more to what I do but I won’t bore you with the details!

Also, although I’m not a developer I started an event last year called Music Hack Day which I now help run. And in my spare time I put on an informal meetup called OpenMusicMedia where we invite guests down to lead conversations about innovation in the music industry. Both are very synergetic with what I do day to day at SoundCloud and mean I get to meet even more awesome people.

What’s it like working remotely from London?

There’s three of us in the office here now and we have an office in Old Street (dubbed Silicon Roundabout) that we share with Moo.com, Tweetdeck and some other cool web startups. It’s great actually. Although Berlin has an amazing music scene London is still the heart of the music industry in Europe. The nice thing is that I still get to visit Berlin HQ regularly to keep in sync with the rest of the team. But Alex and Eric have done such a great job of setting out a vision for what we do at SoundCloud that I can just wake up in the morning and somehow know what needs to get done that day.

What kind of music are you into?

Ha! I hate that question, I usually just tell people to check my Last.fm profile, but that probably doesn’t tell the whole story. Having worked in a record shop you have to listen to and appreciate a lot of different types of music. And I have crates and crates of vinyl which are now sadly tucked away in my loft. I find I do most of my music listening nowadays on my long commute into work or whilst behind my laptop which has probably changed my listening behaviors quite a bit. I like a lot of things like Nick Drake, Joanna Newsom, Kings Of Convenience, The Tallest Man on Earth, Iron & Wine, etc. to unwind. But I really enjoy a lot more glitchy, forward looking stuff like Four Tet, Caribou, Tunng and all the experimental shades of dubstep. I can’t stop listening to this track called ‘Puzzled’ recently:

At heart, I’m really a fan of music that is constantly innovating and fusing different elements of what has gone before. Although bizarrely, I’ve been secretly getting into a bit of metal recently, which I’ve never been into before, in any form. We’ve been working with quite a few metal acts and labels on SoundCloud so I’ve somehow formed this weird guilty addiction to the music. Some of the tracks have a really energy which I also find with electronic artists like Noisia. Perfect for getting work done :)

Are you a musician yourself?

I play the piano. I’m definitely not an expert but I find it really helps me relax. I absolutely love playing pieces by Dustin O’Halloran and Debussy (my attempts can be hear below) but I’ve also been learning a few pieces by Joanna Newsom that I found transcribed somewhere on the web. Here it is:

I wouldn’t call it being a musician, but I used to DJ a lot too when I ran a record label called Inspirit Music with my brother. Somehow I managed to get paid to play in clubs all round Europe for about two years and had a DJ mix compilation released on CD called InSoul Sessions. I also went into the studio and did a few remixes of tracks on our own catalogue too, but those were always co-produced with others. You can hear a few things on my SoundCloud profile. Seems like a long time ago now!

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Expert pianist or not, looks like you’ve got a future in piano performance ahead of you! Find Dave on Twitter at @haynes_dave and at his website here.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

David Friday Fun: Interview with Roel

For this Friday’s interview, meet Roel van der Ven!



Hailing from Amsterdam in The Netherlands, Roel is part of the amazing front-end team responsible for developing the great interface that propelled SoundCloud to the…well, clouds.

How did you come to work at SoundCloud?

Oooh, long story. To make it short: I’ve been doing web-related work for a long time now. After school, I completed a graduation internship at Last.fm in London. Back in Amsterdam, where I’m from, I was freelancing and helped organize some conferences (and a Music Hackday!). We put on Music & Bits, a conference about music & technology. In the midst of contacting cool people to speak at the conference, I met Alex & Eric, the CEOs of Soundcloud.

I then moved to Berlin with 3 friends to start our own company: Your Neighbours. We did some very cool projects while working for a variety of clients. But being a small company has complications. For big projects, you have to hire other people, which means I had to take on project manager responsibilities.  Being the middle man frustrated me – I ended up spending all day talking on the phone and sending emails. I learned a lot, but not the stuff I wanted to learn. So I decided to find a place where I could grow and learn in my field of interest. When I asked Alex and Eric for a lead, it turned out a lot better than I expected!

What do you do for SoundCloud?

I’m responsible for front-end development, which is basically the stuff you see in your browser. Katharina, our lead designer, creates the graphics, the look, and feel; and I turn that into something your browser understands. I do what comes after the design: make the site faster, load better, and behave better in your browser. It’s pretty exciting working on the interface of a product which is used by so many many people.

What’s your favorite thing about working here?

Working on an awesome product. We’re basically building the future of music here. Also, the team is incredible. People before me said this too, but I must agree. It’s such a pleasure working with this bunch of talented and motivated maniacs, incredible.

What kind of music are you into?

Hah, that’s hard to explain. It ranges from indie to electro, contemporary classic to balkan, whatever resonates the results of passion I guess. Berlin is supposed to be the city of techno, but I can get the shivers for example from singer/songwriter Fink, check it out:

Are you a musician yourself?

Not really – I used to play the guitar but I abandoned music-making because I got sucked into working too much. Music seems to get back on my track every time, so I definitely will pick it up again any time soon. I brought my guitar to Berlin, only have to get me some new strings!

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Thanks, Roel. Follow him on Twitter at @roelven and check out his website here. Have a nice weekend everyone, and see you on Monday in August! Time flies, doesn’t it?

David Friday Fun: Introducing… Jan, Rany, and Johannes From The App Team

For this week’s employee spotlight, we rounded up 3 of our back-end wiz-kids. These guys are a part of the amazing team that builds the features behind SoundCloud. In the picture below, from left to right, we have an action shot of Jan Berkel (next to him is Alex, whom we won’t be interviewing just yet…but dont worry, it’s coming soon), Rany Keddo, and Johannes Wagener busily coding away. You know, just another hard day at work on the sunny office balcony.

So, where do we begin? Why don’t you tell us how you ended up at SoundCloud?

Rany: I was born in Germany and then moved to New Zealand when I was 10. After uni, I got a job at a stock-trading startup called Share People in London. That was back in 2000 or something – can’t think back that far. I then worked at moviepilot.de before working on my own startup, the event platform Boomloop, for 2 years in Frankfurt. But I’ve always followed SoundCloud closely; I’ve always been a fan of what the guys built here. I’m actually user #120… old school!

Johannes: I’m user #3207, so I joined quite late in comparison to Rany. I was a freelancer before I started working here about a year ago, when I met Eric Wahlforss at the SoundCloud release party at Picknick. He was living together with a friend of mine so I was invited to the party. I just asked him for a job there.

Jan: Well, I spent 5 years in London and had enough of it. I wanted to move and work with something at the intersection of music and technology. SoundCloud was the perfect place.

Now tell us a bit about what you do here. What features on the site can be directly attributed to your hard work up on the Cloud?

Rany: I ‘m on the App Team, which is responsible for creating new features. I’ve only been here for a month, but I’ve worked on some changes to the way sharing is done, so that it can actually work smoothly while handling thousands of requests and not explode in your face. At the moment I’m working on the Dashboard. Nice things to come.

Johannes: When I started, I was working on the Ruby API  Library to integrate your app with sound. Afterward I worked on the Facebook integration. Right now I’m working with the payment system.

Jan: I worked on the People Finder – the app that lets you import your contacts so you can find your friends from different networks on SoundCloud. Right now i’m working on the Dashboard with Rany. And a lot of other stuff.

Are you musicians yourselves?

Rany: I actually studied Classical Music & Guitar Performance down in New Zealand before I became a programmer. But since then I haven’t really played that much guitar anymore and it’s just sitting in the corner in the apartment dusting away. I think at some point I’ll probably have some big guitar renaissance though.

Johannes: I play guitar and sometimes I try to fiddle around a bit with Ableton Live.

Jan: Mixtapes!

Best part about working at SoundCloud?

All: The people, for sure.

Excellent. Any questions you want to ask each other?

Rany: Yea. How old are you Johannes?

Johannes: 24. You?

Rany: Hang on, counting…33. You, Jan?

Jan: 31.

So there you have it, this week’s wiz-kids:

Find them on Twitter: Jan @jberkel, Rany @purzelrakete, and Johannes @johanneswagener and say ‘Hi’ in the comments.

Happy weekend!