Transferring large files on the web has always been a hassle, especially when you need to do it frequently. One field especially prone to this problem is the music industry – artists often collaborate with eachother by sending rough versions of tracks, but have to rely on clunky services like YouSendIt or FTP servers. SoundCloud, a German startup that launches on October 10, is looking to streamline this process by allowing an artist to upload a file once and easily distribute it to whomever they’d like. The site is currently in private beta, but you can grab one of 500 invites here.
SoundCloud isn’t meant as a consumer site – rather, it’s a service for industry professionals, including artists, music labels, and producers. From the outset, it’s clear that SoundCloud is very well designed, with an intuitive interface that falls firmly under “Web 2.0″. The site revolves around artist profiles and the tracks they’ve uploaded, which are presented in an embeddable basic music widget (you can see one below). Aside from standard playback, the widget also allows artists to open up their tracks to comments from outside visitors, which can be appended to specified times.
Artists can specify how much control their users will have over their content, setting their music to stream-only, or as available for download. The site also supports listener analytics, so artists can see how many visitors have listened to their tracks. And the site supports a wide variety of audio formats, with no restrictions on file size.
SoundCloud also includes some basic social features, with artist profiles detailing professional contact information, much like a musician’s social network, and a follow system that allows you to receive alerts whenever a friend or colleague uploads a track. There’s also a Dropbox that allows visitors to submit songs to you for review – it’s a digital version of the mailed-in demo tape.
Provided SoundCloud can get a foothold in the music industry (which isn’t an easy thing to do), it seems poised for success. There are many other options for media sharing, but SoundCloud has executed extremely well, with an interface that should make sense to even the most technically-challenged users. Major producers and music labels may be hesitant to embrace it in the near future, but there’s a massive market for indie artists and fledgling musicians that will pounce on the service immediately.