We love Soundcloud, but it has been under fire recently for handing over the keys to the kingdom to the music industry. As a result, lots of legitimate music is being deleted, and artists and bands are looking elsewhere. If you're in the mood for new music, or want to share your own, check out these alternatives.
Soundcloud is a great place to discover new music and share your own mixes and mashups. We still love it, but last week the service gave music labels (Universal, to start with) complete and unsupervised access to users' music and accounts. That means that if the label decide your mix, cover, or mashup infringes on their copyrights, even when it doesn't, the label can delete it, leaving you with no recourse once you've discovered your music is gone.
Do Androids Dance? has a good rundown here, along with an example of a radio DJ who ran foul of the new policy. Some DJs have already pledged to leave the site. So if you're looking for a new place to upload and share your music, or you just want a new place to find and save music without the labels looking over your shoulder, we have some options for you.
Mixcloud is already host to a number of great radio shows, podcasts, and DJs. The service boasts mobile apps for on-the-go listening, and easy tools for musicians to upload tracks and share them with their audience. It offers more space than Soundcloud, pays royalties out to artists, and promises not to take down your music just because someone asks it to. I often hear podcast hosts note that you can find them on Soundcloud and Mixcloud, so if you have a favourite show, you might want to see if they have a presence there too.
Mixcloud has a huge following with electronic music fans and DJs, so it's a natural place to look if you're interested in that, but the genres and artists run deeper. There's plenty of jazz, funk, hip-hop, world music, and live recordings from music festivals available as well. Since Mixcloud is popular with radio DJs as well, you can expect to find lots of talk radio programming and news, too. Its standalone player, dedicated tracklists, and other listener-friendly features make it a serious Soundcloud competitor. If you're looking to upload your own tunes, Mixcloud offers unlimited uploads, although it won't let others download your music.
Bandcamp has long been one of our favourite music stores, and it's just as good for discovering new music as it is for people looking to make their music available for download -- whether you want to charge for it, or give it away for free. If you're a music lover, you've probably already been to Bandcamp,, since the service makes it really easy for musicians to upload music, set their own price, fill out a profile, and either let their music go free to anyone who wants it, or make a little money from their own independent storefront.
The site is free for everyone to join, and once you're a member, you can explore just as easily as you can upload. Scroll down the main page and you can see popular uploads, uploads today, search by tag, or just check out what's selling well. While many of us probably know our favourite musicians' own Bandcamp sites, there's a lot to explore if you haven't poked around. While you can't easily share or build your own profile or playlist of songs from other musicians, you can always download or buy the music outright.
Mixcrate is another service that caters to DJs, but it has a more social feel to it. You're encouraged to follow both DJs and other Mixcrate members who save and share their favourite finds. The array of music types and genres is fairly wide too. You'll find the traditional electronic selection you'd expect on a site like this, but also world music, reggae, alt-rock, jazz, slow jams and even country. If you're in the mood for it, there's probably a DJ at Mixcrate spinning it, or at least some enterprising users building great mixtapes to enjoy.
DJs can upload new mixes (you get unlimited uploads) and share them out with their communities, and musicians will be pleased to note that the site clearly defines what a DJ mix is and isn't to avoid running afoul of any legal or copyright issues. The service is designed and built around mixes and mixtape-style creations, so you won't find your entire mix missing one day because someone holds the copyright to one of the samples used in one of the songs somewhere in your hour-long study mix.
8Tracks has been around for a long time, and deserves more attention than it gets. It has experienced its share of copyright battles and limitations to keep the labels happy, but on the whole it's a safe place to upload and share your own creations, or find remixes and mixtapes. 8Tracks has mobile apps, and the service encourages you to follow other users that make great mixes, upload your own tracks, and discover more based on your mood, the time of day, or what you're doing. There are even mixes crafted for the perfect road trip, basking in the summer sun, or concentrating at work.
You can add your own music for your mixes through the native upload tools, make your mixes public or private, and then share them with your friends when you're finished. They do have some licensing particulars you should know about (you can only have two tracks from the same artist in any given mix, for instance) that you can read about in the 8Tracks FAQ, specifically in the "Mix Creation" and "Legal Stuff" sections.
Bonuses: Grooveshark and YouTube
Grooveshark and YouTube are both worth considering but have limitations. Both services have their own copyright issues you have to be aware of, especially with Grooveshark in the middle of a massive legal fight with the music industry and YouTube having given a number of labels similar rights to mass-delete or auto-flag content with no warning or recourse the way Soundcloud is now. Even so, whether you're a DJ or a listener, both places are great places to upload your music and share them with your community, and as a listener they're great places to go in search of new mixes and niche tracks. Don't overlook them -- plus, with services like Whyd and Songdrop, you can save tracks from other sites into a single profile for easy listening.
Soundcloud isn't going anywhere, and we don't think you should give up on it entirely. However, if you're wondering where some of your favourite DJs went, why you can't hear some of your favourite musicians there anymore, or where all of your bookmarked or saved tracks vanished to, you may have better luck with these other services.