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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.

David 5+1 Easy Steps To Set Up Your Remix Competition With SoundCloud

Remix competitions can be really great. They allow fans to engage, producers to get creative and an artist to promote their song to whole new audiences who might not previously have listened. With the right artist and the right campaign you can also turn the competition into a great marketing tool.

Previously used by the likes of Röyksopp or Bloc Party, combining your SoundCloud account, your personal artist or label website and the SoundCloud Group features is a great way to set up your own remix competition. Here are five easy steps to get going.

1. Getting Started

First, upload the track parts to your account or create a new account for the remix contest specifically. Selecting more than one file (MP3, AIFF or ideally WAV), will automatically create a set which is recommended to have all the different parts in one player. Make sure to make your set public, downloadable and streamable to let people embed it to other sites. If you like, add the original version of the track for reference. Don’t forget to add metadata around the tracks and in the Set description, add more information like deadlines, prizes and link to other relevant pages on the web.

(Note: if you’re selling the stems, don’t make your tracks downloadable and instead, add “Buy links” to the required field)

2. Get your landing page ready

We recommend to set up a special remix page on your own website or blog. That way, you’ll have one place on the web to direct people to where they’ll find all the relevant information about your contest, the track parts, the DropBox and the submitted remixes. On your page, embed the set widget player with the stems. Simply click “Share” above the waveform and grab the embed code and paste it to your page or blog post.

3. Set up your remix group on SoundCloud

Your remix group will be where people submit their finished remixes. It’s quick, free and easy to create a group: add a logo, background info and let people know if you want the submissions to be downloadable or not.

We recommend you to moderate the group so you can pre-listen to a remix before it added the the group which gives you more control about the submissions. To do so, untick the box “Automatically approve tracks”:

4. Embed the Group DropBox to your landing page

Your DropBox is the eyecatcher for remixers to know where to submit their remix. You can easily embed it to your landing page. Remixers then click the DropBox and get redirected to your group where they can submit their remix. You’ll receive an email notification when a new track is waiting for your approval.

5. Embed the Group player to your landing page

You can embed the group player to your website so that people can listen to the latest submitted remixes. Here’s the cool part. Once you approve a track in your group, the embedded player on your site gets automatically updated with the newest additions in your group, saving you a lot of time to keep your embedded players up-to-date.

Grab the code by clicking the “Share” button on your group page:

That’s it, you’re done!

6. Bonus!

Here are some top tips we’ve picked up from people who have already done remix competitions on SoundCloud:

Setup a dedicated page or blog. By setting up a dedicated space for the competition it not only shows you care about it but also serves as a great place for marketing messages, newsletter sign-up forms and similar. If you’re not technical there are plenty of great services like WordPress or Tumblr that you can get up and running very easily and customize just like you want.

Get the artist involved. If you’re a label or a third party putting on the competition then make sure to have the artist or band as involved as possible. Get them to tweet about it, comment on their favourite tracks, maybe even ask them to put together a video of them talking about what sort of mixes they’d love to hear. Imogen Heap was a perfect example where she managed to engage her fans and the response was amazing.

Get your timings + rules nailed. Create a schedule for the competition. When does it start, when will you close submissions, when will you make a shortlist of the best tracks, when will you be judging the entries. When will you post up the winning remixes. It’s nice to have all these different steps to keep people engaged all the way through the contest and be as transparent as possible about the rules of the contest.

Get great prizes. Some people will want to remix your music anyway, but prizes always help! Give away a day in the studio with an artist, team up with a music software/instrument company, offer a recording contract, include their mix on a special vinyl release. There’s lots of cool stuff you could do.

Team up with a media partner. It’s really helpful to spread the word about the competition. So why not team up with a magazine, radio station, brand or blog? You don’t have to pick just one partner. Because it’s so easy to distribute the SoundCloud player and/or DropBox you could get the remix competition to any number of music bloggers, websites etc. Also feel free to add it to the SoundCloud forums.