Taking the Studio to the Cloud: Using SoundCloud for Collaboration


When Ellen Hinton moved from recording catchy covers on her iPad to making her first studio EP of original tracks with a producer, she faced a common problem: her day job as a teacher didn’t leave her much time to meet with her producer. How could she work with him on the tracks when they rarely saw each other? Emailing the files back and forth can be confusing, with multiple versions for every small change. Large file sizes can take forever to download. And FTP interfaces can be ugly and hard to use.

Hinton, who records under the name EllenOnceAgain, turned to SoundCloud for her solution.

“The thing I liked about SoundCloud was we could stream it,” she says. “I can send him my SoundCloud address. He doesn’t have to download it. It doesn’t take a lot of time. So we could go back and forth.”

Hinton and producer Madukwu Chinwah used SoundCloud to comment on the tracks, make changes to the session and view the track in terms of multiple takes. Hinton even used the mobile version of the service during her busy days.

SoundCloud is better known as a site for sharing and promoting music, but Hinton’s story isn’t rare. SoundCloud vice president of business development Dave Haynes says that the site’s founders Alexander Ljung and artist Eric Wahlforss had this type of collaboration in mind when they designed the site.

“In their day-to-day lives, they were having to do really simple things that were actually quite difficult to do, like sending files back and forth,” he says. “We thought that you could use the best technology on the web to solve that problem.”

SoundCloud offers a number of benefits for the recording process. You can upload tracks of any size—no file is too big for its drop box. While working on a track, you can set your sharing level to “private” to ensure no one but your collaborators hear your unfinished product. You can set the file to download or to streaming only. And if you want to send the file to someone who isn’t on SoundCloud, you can still send it to their email address.

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