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Find free, cool music on SoundCloud

Michael Gowan | April 5, 2013
The Internet has no shortage of places offering streaming music these days. Pandora, Spotify, Songza, Rdio--the list goes on and on. But few digital music destinations offer the unique selections you can find on SoundCloud.

Here are some ideas on how to find artists to follow:

Search for your favorites. More artists than you'd think have SoundCloud pages. While not all pages are active with frequent posts, you'll usually find a couple of songs on each, especially when a new release comes out. To search for a specific artist, enter a name in the search box, and filter the results by People.

Look for labels. Many record labels have SoundCloud pages even if their artists don't. On Merge Records' page, for example, you can listen to singles from most of its artists, including She & Him and Divine Fits. For pop music, Atlantic Records posts a steady flow of singles.

Explore related artists. In the right column of an artist's page, you'll see other SoundCloud pages that he or she follows--a clue that you may also like those related artists. You may even find a new band you haven't heard before.

Join a group. Groups are collections of like-minded musicians. If you are a fan of hip-hop, search for that term, and click Groups to show all the collections related to that genre. If you join a group, you can find it again quickly by clicking your profile picture, then selecting Your Groups.

Click a tag. Artists can tag their tracks with genres to help you find them more easily. For example, a track posted by Smithsonian Folkways will often be tagged folk. Click the tag, and you'll get a list of all songs tagged as such by any artist.

Dig deep. The most rewarding tracks on SoundCloud can be the most difficult to find. In searching for Bob Dylan's page, I came across a soundboard recording from his 1993 Supperclub shows--known as one of his better shows from that period. But the song wasn't posted by Dylan; it was uploaded by a fan. I've also found some great covers of my favorite songs by searching for song titles. The best strategy may be to get lost within the vast options.

Sounds to go

SoundCloud offers free mobile apps so you can listen wherever you are--a perk that services such as Spotify charge $10 a month for.

If you've followed artists, their latest additions show up in your stream, which is available through the app. You can also "like" specific songs and access them quickly through the app.

The mobile app lacks the Explore tab you'll find on the SoundCloud site, but search works well if you're looking for something new while on the go.

On cloud nine

For listeners, SoundCloud offers an underused resource of great sounds. Whether you're looking for something new or want to find something different from a favorite artist, the social sound platform is worth your time.


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