Category Archives: Community

Jane Three music career tips we learned at the SoundCloud Artist Forum

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Last Thursday in Los Angeles, we hosted our first SoundCloud Artist Forum.

So, what’s an artist forum? And why have one?

Our main goal was to bring members of the SoundCloud team, local creators, managers and others in the industry together in one space to connect with and learn from each other. In addition to sharing our story, we heard direct feedback from artists and managers about their experiences of and ideas for the future of SoundCloud.

We also got the opportunity to learn a few valuable tips for jumpstarting and building a career on SoundCloud from some of the creators and industry insiders who use our platform most:

 

1. Build and grow:

Use SoundCloud to establish your creative identity and have authentic interactions with fans.

“Not being pigeonholed or typecast means that you can grow as an artist.” – Asher Roth

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While SoundCloud’s main purpose is to make it easy for you to share all your work in one place, it’s also an opportunity to build your identity with your followers. When creating the product, we think a lot about allowing you to fully express who you are. Hip hop artist Asher Roth recommends you make use of that aspect of the platform.

In his Q&A session, we asked how he evolved and rebranded himself after moving from a major label to an independent artist. He focused on using SoundCloud as a tool to express true creativity.

“Using SoundCloud allows you to introduce yourself as a person through your music rather than as a product…SoundCloud brings people from all walks of life connected by a tune. SoundCloud allows you to have authentic conversations with your fans. You can watch people find their voice on SoundCloud. Not being pigeonholed or typecast means that you can grow as an artist.

SoundCloud helps you stay relevant – you can have a genuine connection with your fan base and see their immediate reactions to your work. It doesn’t rush things, means you can organically cultivate yourself and your expression as an artist.”

 

2. Give and take:

Ask for feedback and return the favor.

“I found a majority of my producers through SoundCloud.” – King avriel

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We learned so much from sharing more about our vision and growth with the artists and managers who were present at the Forum. Hearing direct feedback was a reminder that we need to continue to keep our channels open so we can grow together. Your ideas help us build a better product and, in turn, a greater community.

Having active conversations within our usual communities is important, but it’s also important to have broader conversations with each other. SoundCloud enables artists to share work and receive and provide meaningful feedback from their immediate circles and beyond. There is a mutual benefit when feedback is given and received.

R&B singer King avriel noted that communicating with a wider network on SoundCloud helps to spark new opportunities.

“I found a majority of my producers through SoundCloud. They were mostly obscure producers that people would point me in the direction to. They told me, ‘Even if they had 50 or 100 followers, you should check them out.’ I did, liked their work, it was easy to communicate with them, and next thing I knew, I was flying across the country to do a session with them.”

 

3. Stats and crafts:

Sure, track your progress, but most importantly, hone your skills.

Numbers aren’t everything; continuing to reach new potential fans is.” – Brice Omesher

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At the Forum, we shared some compelling numbers about our growth as a global platform (for example, SoundCloud now has more than 100M tracks available and 175 million unique users on a monthly basis). As a company, we check our stats a lot. Creators building new audiences and new careers should too. After all, the stats functionality on SoundCloud is here to help you grow your career.

That said, artist manager Brice Omesher, who manages artists like Sweater Beats and Falcons, said that while he believes stats are important, staying focused on improving your craft and connecting with new fans is truly the key.

“Numbers aren’t everything; continuing to reach new potential fans is. Asher Roth has sold hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of records over his career. However, having done the mainstream and major label route, SoundCloud has offered him a new avenue to reach fans that may have never been interested in the previous channels. For some this may not be the end goal, but it is an important area for any and all artists looking to maintain growth and SoundCloud enables this.”

The opportunity to come together in one place for Artist Forums allows us to share and hear how you all fit into the vision of SoundCloud. The artist community is an integral part of our vision and the future, despite the challenges we face to get to where we want to go.  

We hope to do more of these forums in the future in different locations. Have ideas about where we should hold the next Artist Forum and what it should cover? Let us know.

Alex On SoundCloud turns one

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It’s been a year since we launched On SoundCloud, our partnership program that allows SoundCloud creators to make money from their work on the platform, in the US. And what a year it’s been.

What started as a select group of 20 partners representing 2,000 labels has grown to over 600 representing over 25,000 labels, many of them independent.

In our first year, we’ve paired brands like Jaguar, Sonos, Microsoft, Taco Bell, Asics and Axe with SoundCloud creators like Sizzlebird, ILoveMakonnen, Metro Boomin, Viceroy and Big Data. These partnerships have helped artists highlight tracks in playlists and bring new music to life – while getting paid in the process. We’ve also directly signed many emerging artists to the program, each with their own story about why they’re On SoundCloud. You can learn more about some of them below.

As we continue to roll out On SoundCloud into its second year, our ambition remains fundamentally the same as when we launched the company in 2008; to provide the tools and platform for creators to build and discover new audiences, but now with ability to be paid for the work they produce. We’re under no illusions as to how much there is left to do, including finding solutions around sampling and remixing while continuing to uphold and respect individual copyright. Our community is our platform and we take your feedback extremely seriously. With your continued support, we believe we’re on the road to achieving something very special.

And for those reasons, we’d like to say thank you. Thank you for creating and thank you for listening. In the meantime, we’re busy working on some new developments that will make On SoundCloud even more creator-friendly and open. Here’s to another remarkable year.

 

Toni Romiti’s On SoundCloud to grow.Toni Romiti

Toni Romiti sees On SoundCloud as a way to expand her career and reach a massive audience.

“Soundcloud has given me a place to upload and share my music with thousands of people. Soundcloud has helped change my life.

I love being an On SoundCloud artist. Knowing that I can be a part of something so special makes me feel special as well.”

Sizzlebird’s On SoundCloud to evolve. Sizzlebird

For Sizzlebird, being On SoundCloud means added closeness to the platform, which has provided opportunities to reach new audiences and grow, both in terms of work and career.

“It was a very exciting to get the chance to work with Jaguar on an ad-based campaign, a very fluid process which included the chance to have an artwork created by the SoundCloud artist in residence. It was a really fun experience and an amazing opportunity to continue my passion for music.”

Kali Uchis is On SoundCloud to share.Kali Uchis

On SoundCloud artist Kali Uchis uses the platform to quickly share new music with receptive, interested audiences.

“Whenever I share my music through social media, I share it directly from SoundCloud. It’s just the easiest. They make it really simple to spread good music to other people who share the same tastes as you. I think it really helped other people to discover my songs.”

Jane Meet On SoundCloud Premier Partner Hefna Gwap

On SoundCloud Premier Partner Hefna Gwap is a rapper originally from East Palo Alto in the Bay Area. He’s a multi-talented rapper who dabbled in film and co-founded a creative collective called Elegant Caviar while in NYC, where he met his main producer, Lord Plawz. This up-and-coming rapper is now based in Atlanta, pushing his music and the Elegant Caviar sound which he describes as “avant-garde hip-hop.”

He is launching a new content series called WestBlockWednesdays on SoundCloudEvery Wednesday at 12:53pm, Hefna Gwap will post a new track to SoundCloud. A special smokers edition song for 4/20 will kick off the WestBlockWednesdays series, starting next week on April 22.

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Please introduce yourself to the SoundCloud community.

I’m Christopher Sigur Jr. PKA Hefna Gwap. I was born and raised in East Palo Alto, California in the Silicon Valley and I was interested in expressing my story through music at an early age. When my grandmother saw my passion growing, she bought me a karaoke machine and I used to record my earliest raps on Cash Money tape cassettes. Fast forward, my dad Big Chris bought me my first Pro-Tools (telling me he needed to recoup this expense of course haha). While I was teaching myself how to record my own music, I also started a record label with some high school classmates that was meant to keep teenagers off the streets after school and we won a $2,500 grant from BUILD Youth Entrepreneurship program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

But I realized in order to really share my voice with the world, I would need to present who I am visually too. I attended film school in Berkeley and shot a video with my classmates for a song called “Bobo” back in 2012 that I put up on YoutTbe and this video made it to the eyes of producer Lord Plawz–all the way over on the East Coast in Brooklyn, NYC. After Lord Plawz saw my video we began talking of a collaborative relationship that blossomed into me making the move to NYC and founding a creative collective with Plawz called Elegant Caviar. We built up our name in NYC and through our journey ended up working in Atlanta, Georgia. Elegant Caviar is 2053 music. It’s avant-garde hip-hop that owes much to many regions and cultures. We were inspired by groups that created a cult of personality around them like Wu-Tang Clan, Outkast, and No Limit among others. Elegant Caviar is all about tying a look to the music, and I take how our videos, design and merchandise are communicated very seriously. 

How do you use SoundCloud?

I think SoundCloud is a wonderful tool for building community and dialogue among my fans and potential fans. When I release music on SoundCloud, it’s amazing to see what songs get the best crowd response (i.e. comments and reposts) and of course the analytics tools are invaluable. Having instant access to graphics that show which songs are being played the most and where these streams are coming from is a dream come true.

Describe your creative process. What is your set up like?

My current set up is in the Purple Cabinet at Twelve Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s a far cry from the humble beginnings in the kitchens and closets of California and New York. Of course the microphone and the Pro-Tools and my ever present iPad are what I’m on the most. I love working out of here. The vibe is very familial and there’s no telling who might walk through the door any given night of the week. Working at Twelve has already given rise to a lot of awesome collaborations and opportunities.

How have you reached certain goals or steps in your career?

When I moved to NYC, Lord Plawz was an intern at Jonny Shipes’ The Smokers Club. Plawz brought me to The Smokers Club office and I began interning for Creative Control which was a video production company working at the building. I was using my video editing skills I had learned in film school, while Lord Plawz was helping with Shipes’ operations for the record label. When Shipes’ heard our music, I began getting placements on Smokers Club’s SoundCloud and on Smokers Club music releases. We toured with The Smokers Club in 2013 and also attended the 2013 A3C in Atlanta.

At 2014’s SXSW in Austin, I got to perform on SoundCloud’s showcase and that was real honor, when I truly knew SoundCloud cared for their artists. We tirelessly recorded and filmed our own videos from 2012 on and through hard work and dedication, Elegant Caviar received the attention of many top music publications, blogs, clothing brands, and of course talented fellow musicians from NYC to ATL and to many other states and abroad.

When it comes to approaching editorial outlets and music professionals, my answer is simple and I promise you’ve heard it before because it’s the truth: stay humble! Also, I think it’s important to of course to make quality music, but also get those visuals going. And definitely get outside and show your face there’s no telling who you might bump into out there in the world.

What does it feel like to become a Premier Partner? Where do you want to take your career next?

I’m excited and I can’t wait to see the opportunities working with SoundCloud holds for me in the future. It’s a privilege to be included in the Premier Partner program and I hope to be included in SoundCloud’s plans for 2015 and beyond, especially performing on all SoundCloud stages/events!

Who or what is inspiring you creatively? Are there people that you’d like to collaborate or work with?

To be honest I’m inspired a lot by Jim Rohn audiobooks. Any time I listen to Jim Rohn and I think about where I wanted to go, where I have been, and most of all where I’m from, I get inspired to make new music. As far as dream collaborations, I would definitely say Kanye West, The Isley Brothers, George Clinton, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube. But you know for me, music and film go hand in hand so I’d have to say Terrence Howard too. I’d love to work with Snoop and Ice Cube on a movie as well. That would be dope.

Anything else?

I just want to thank the Lord first. My family, my children, my fans of course. And my management! I do this for all of you.

Hear Hefna Gwap’s new track “Pill Machine” which released today.

For more information on our creator partner program On SoundCloud, head over to on.soundcloud.com. To read more interviews from On SoundCloud Premier Partners, click here.