Commentary

Commentary: Don’t Tune Out SoundCloud

Z.Stewart/The Phillipian

Post Malone, a well-known rapper, recently released the hit song “Rockstar,” which was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks. What many listeners do not know, however, is that his career began on the online audio distribution platform SoundCloud. His song “White Iverson” was posted on SoundCloud and went viral, launching the then-small artist into a world of popularity and stardom. Nearly three years after the song was posted, Post Malone now has a net worth of over eight million dollars, according to Wealthy Gorilla. He went from being an unknown rapper to being extremely famous, all thanks to a website.

Post Malone’s success on SoundCloud is not the first — or last — time a SoundCloud artist was able to break into the mainstream music industry. The site has benefited dozens of up-and-coming artists and has created a dynamic and supportive community of both artists and listeners. SoundCloud has proven itself to be a constructive and vibrant platform, although its efficacy is often ignored because of inaccurate stereotypes.

Several listeners and artists alike assume that the website is not as legitimate as other music platforms because anyone can use it. Most SoundCloud artists are not treated with respect, regardless of their skill. One example is the “SoundCloud rapper” meme, which stereotypes artists on the website as being fraudulent and less professional than other artists. These misconceptions prevent listeners from using SoundCloud, and they also discourage artists from posting on the website for fear that they will be mocked like many others before them. While it is true that most songs on SoundCloud are not the next top hit, the site should be taken more seriously.

SoundCloud supports new and developing artists by giving them a platform to share their music. Anyone can post a track, whether they are famous rappers who make millions or aspiring singers who made their last album in their parents’ basement. This allows artists to grow a following and build a career for themselves — some of my friends at Andover even post on SoundCloud. Thousands of talented artists slip through the cracks because they have nowhere to post their creations. This goes for all types of creators: filmmakers, singers, rappers, composers, painters, and photographers. Fortunately, SoundCloud is a free website that was designed for these aspiring musicians who want to share their work with the world.

SoundCloud not only allows anyone to post music, but also promotes the artist’s music. It’s one thing to be able to post music on a website, but being discovered by listeners is extremely challenging. On other platforms such as Pandora, Spotify or Apple Music, artists have to be already well-known to gain further popularity. These apps give little opportunity to small artists, regardless of their talent or capability. SoundCloud, on the other hand, makes song suggestions based on users’ listening history, and the majority of these suggestions are by small artists with lots of talent. The website also supports small artists by having a playlist of new music, which allows anyone to discover small artists, regardless of their music taste.

As an avid SoundCloud user myself, I appreciate the site’s potential to help users discover new, little-known music. When I scroll through a certain playlist, some of the songs have millions of plays, while others have less than 5,000. At the moment, my favorite song on SoundCloud is “16. until” by Steven Jame$. The track has less than 300,000 plays, and without SoundCloud, I would have never discovered it.

We should prevent hateful stereotypes from muddling the real purpose of SoundCloud. I encourage listeners to venture outside of their comfort zones and consider using the website to find new music. You might even discover the next Post Malone.

Feb 9, 2018