The SoundCloud 'Repost' Guide: Revolutionizing the "Social Sound"
Over the last five years, SoundCloud has made tremendous strides towards becoming the worlds foremost destination for online music discovery and exploration - not only by simplifying the process of sharing and showcasing audio-based content, but by harnessing the explosive emergence of the ‘social media’ phenomenon. In their efforts to “create the world’s leading social sound platform,” SoundCloud has without a doubt surpassed all comparable services in their ability to cater to users' desire to engage with content in a socially engaging and highly interactive fashion.
One of SoundCloud’s most powerful (and under-used) functionalities is the implementation of that seemingly innocuous ‘Repost’ feature. Similar in functionality to the ‘Retweet’ button on Twitter, ‘Repost’ takes a piece of audio-content from another SoundCloud user’s account, and delivers it directly to the activity feed of your entire following - this gives one user the ability to expose content from another user’s account to their entire audience, an invaluable social tool with an vast array of uses.
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Key Uses of the ‘Repost’
1. Fan Playlists: Quite possibly the most common (as well as the most ‘social’) use of SoundCloud’s ‘Repost’ function is utilized predominantly by the fans themselves. On a platform that has recently surpassed 250 Million active users (Tech Crunch), there are exponentially more listeners than there are active content creators, something that is of vital importance when designing a platform that caters to both content creators, as well as the average user.
For the vast majority of SoundCloud’s user-base, the ‘Repost’ function offers a simple and accessible way to share their favorite music with friends. One of the most important considerations within the ‘social network’ phenomenon is the idea that each user is responsible for the curation of content on their account. To put it simply, a social network offers individuals the opportunity to create for themselves an online personality of their choosing - the ‘Repost’ function offers users the ability to demonstrate their ability as tastemakers on an unprecedented scale. Further, ‘reposting’ is much more practical than creating a huge list of url’s, or setting up complicated ‘sets’ and ‘playlists’ - the beauty of the ‘repost’ is that the content is displayed almost as if it is YOUR content (see Figure 1 below), while still directing all of the traffic back to the original source. Notice how the user below has only 7 fans (a listener rather than a content creator), and yet their account is populated with a steady flow of high quality content featured solely through the use of the ‘repost’ feature.
2. Artist Taste-Makers: Similar to the way in which basic users make use of the ‘repost’ function, many artists also engage the practice of ‘reposting’ music that they have a particular affinity or interest towards. The difference, in this case, is in the results. A basic user typically has little to no fans, as they do not release any content of their own - the account is merely for sharing music and maintaining an active presence on a platform where they can engage with their favorite artists.
Alternatively, established artists and content creators typically have a significant followership of their own, one that has been built through releasing quality content and engaging regularly with their fans. When these artists ‘repost’ content from another artist or label, the effects for both the original content creator, as well as the ‘reposting’ artist, can be quite dramatic indeed.
In the case of a major artist ‘reposting’ music from a smaller artist’s account, the original content creator will see a massive and immediate infusion of traffic resulting from their music being exposed to the major artists’ fan-base. This gives large artists with well-established followings the ability to quite literally jump-start another artists’ career, something of incalculable value when building a label, supporting a producer ‘clique’, or boosting the online presence of artists who will be touring together. Further, the ability to ‘repost’ allows major artists to demonstrate their abilities as taste-makers in addition to their skills as musicians.
Some artists (such as Gramatik, seen in Figure 2) have established a reputation as taste-makers of incredible renown. In this way, they encourage fans to visit and engage with their account not only to hear their newest releases, but also to see what awesome new discoveries they’ve made - who better to trust with the task of discovering the latest new musical gems than someone who has already earned your respect as musician?!
Gramatik’s ‘Spotlight’ section is composed entirely of music that he himself created, but if you take a look at his ‘Recent’ section, it appears to be dominated almost entirely by music he’s reposted from other accounts. Whether these ‘reposts’ are potential signings to his label, or merely musical discoveries that he finds captivating and inspiring, the end result is the same. These songs are exposed to the entire Gramatik audience, and as a result, their own followership is increased dramatically.
3. Official Remixes: This particular use of the ‘repost’ function might seem simple or even redundant, but that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Typically, there is a two-fold purpose in curating official remix packs following the release of a successful single: first, to extend the life of the original track, and second, to share the spotlight of that success with other affiliated artists (and to merge the fan-base of those artists with that of the original content creator). Both of these goals are perfectly aligned with the functionality of SoundCloud’s ‘repost’ feature, and Figure 3 offers a quintessential example of this utility.
Zedd’s “Find You” is a perfect example of a highly successful single that was remixed in order to provide extended longevity to the original, as well as to boost the profile of the remixing artist. In line with reason number one, Zedd ‘reposted’ the Tritonal remix of “Find You” in order to drive twice the amount of traffic to what is ultimately another version of his hit track; this means twice the sales, twice the exposure, and a dramatically increased digital presence. The Tritonal remix will inevitably appeal to a different audience than the original, thus the result is a much larger potential reach for “Find You”.
In line with reason number two, Zedd ‘reposting’ Tritonal’s remix of “Find You” also results in a significant increase in traffic driven to the Tritonal account. Typically, artists chosen for official remixes are in some way affiliated with the original artist or their label, and we can only assume that this is the case with Zedd and Tritonal. Thus, increasing the online presence of Tritonal is of added importance to extending the longevity of “Find You”, and both of these goals are simultaneously achieved through a simple click of that all important ‘repost’ button.
4. Press Aggregation: One of the most important factors in the growth and development of artists in the digital era is coverage from media and press outlets. A prime example of this is the ‘Exclusive Mix’ - many blogs will commision their favorite artists to produce a mix of either all original tunes, or a selection of their all-time favorite tracks. Often-times, these press outlets have quite a large fan-base, and can generate significant traffic for their Exclusive Mixes (typically hosted on their own SoundCloud account); it’s only reasonable that the artist[s] who produces the mix would want to spotlight the mix for their fans, and this is easily accomplished through the use of the ‘repost’ function (see Adventure Club in Figure 4). By hosting an Exclusive Artist Mix, the blog or media outlet provides significant exposure for the artist, and by ‘reposting’ the mix to their own account, the artist reciprocates by directing their own established fan-base to the mix - in this way the relationship is mutually beneficial to both parties.
Ultimately, it highly beneficial for an artist to ‘repost’ all sanctioned features of their music onto their own account, it makes their profile look far more active and showcases to fans and promoters the wide variety of resources at their disposal.
5. Labels Supporting Their Roster: Although this method may seem counter-intuitive at first glance, it’s actually one of the best things a label can do, especially a label that functions around regular releases from a core group of producers. Building powerful label accounts is incredibly important, and allows for the powerful promotional support of releases that is expected when signing a track. However, one of the most important asset for any well-functioning label is the individual success of the artists on their roster.
By ‘reposting’ label releases directly from the artists’ accounts onto the main label account, the end result in terms of record-sales is ultimate the same (the track is still exposed to the exact same audience), however this model also results in significant growth for the artist being reposted (as demonstrated by OWSLA in Figure 5). A label that can provide powerful promotion for all their releases is absolutely invaluable, but on the same note, an artist that can contribute a great deal of additional promotion to their own releases is a sure-fire recipe for success. It’s also worth noting that the ratio of streams to sales is typically much higher on artist accounts than on label accounts, likely a result of many fans’ desire to support their favorite act.
6. The Dreaded ‘Double Post’: Contrary to popular belief, hosting a particular track while also ‘reposting’ that same track from another official source (the label, a major media outlet, a collaborating or featured artist) is in no way detrimental to the account or the brand. In fact, it’s a great way for artists to show support to any of the official sources listed above, while simultaneously demonstrating to promoters and fans the power and reach of their extended support network. If multiple [authorized] sources feature the same track, and all of them generate a significant amount of traffic, only good things can come from showcasing a variety of promotion.
The most common example of the ‘double post’ is by labels that upload all of their release catalogue in order to establish their own promotional fan-base, while also ‘reposting’ releases from all of their artists personal accounts. This is an excellent model for any label looking to grow their promotional outlet, while also helping to develop the artists on their roster. Further, this use of the ‘repost’ feature can also be seen as an added benefit to releasing on a label with a powerful SoundCloud Account (incentive for labels to focus on growing their SoundCloud!). In the mind of your average artist, knowing with confidence that the label you’re releasing with is promoting your music as well as assisting in the development of your own brand is an absolutely invaluable added benefit.
Many labels have not yet caught on to this use of the ‘repost’ feature, and I believe this is a result of the abiding fear that duplicate content will dramatically reduce the effectiveness of both features - something I’ve often heard referred to as ‘cannibalizing’ plays. Although this may be true to some extent, the majority of traffic driven through the SoundCloud platform is based on content being delivered to the activity feeds of your followers, not from users visiting your actual profile (what SoundCloud calls ‘Profile Views’). Duplicate content may have slight diminishing returns, but the difference is often so small as to be unnoticeable, and the added benefits are vast and far-reaching.
Take for example the Never Say Die account shown in Figure 6 - 29 days ago they featured the track “Emotion-Less” by LAXX. Three days later, they ‘reposted’ the same track from LAXX’s personal account. The two tracks performed nearly the same, generating almost double the traffic from what a single upload would have garnered, while simultaneously helping to develop LAXX as a key player on the Never Say Die roster.
With the implementation of the ‘Repost’ feature, SoundCloud has without a doubt revolutionized what it means to be a “social sound platform.” Gone are the days when cross-promotion must be done solely through the use of alternative methods of outreach such as facebook, twitter, and industry mailing lists - a simple click of the ‘repost’ accomplishes the same thing...it’s just a matter of developing your own SoundCloud following - you better get started!