In the digital realm of the independent music world, SoundCloud has become a go-to resource for artists, and deservingly so. The platform has proven to be an ideal domain to share music and develop a devout following with a strong sense of community. Fans of all genres flock to SoundCloud as a prime location for music discovery, and with that comes an excellent opportunity to give your single or album the wings it deserves. In addition, major influencers and A&R reps are constantly exploring SoundCloud in an attempt to find slept-on talent, so understanding how to effectively use the platform is crucial.
Develop your artistic brand
SoundCloud is more than a platform for fans to listen to your music; it’s another opportunity to share your artistic identity. Make sure your SoundCloud page is consistent with other social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Keep in mind that people can see the accounts you follow, the groups you're in, the comments you make, and more, so be sure to use SoundCloud wisely.
Interact on the platform beyond your own music
One of the most appealing attributes of SoundCloud is how passionate its users are, so be sure to communicate with both fans and your peers on a frequent basis. Perfecting your profile takes priority, but taking the extra step to showcase your inner fandom and support of other artists will make you more relatable – a quality that will go a long way throughout your career.
Research and follow influential accounts
There are a large number of influential music collectives that originated on SoundCloud and will always cherish it as their first home. I's worth your time to research and follow the accounts that reside in your lane of music and work to develop an organic relationship with them. Compliment the DJs/show hosts when they deliver a standout mix, and if they take submissions, craft emails with just as much as care as you would for a big blog placement.
Spam people with your links
No one likes to see spam. Don't post a link to your new track as a comment under a Kanye West song just because the traffic on the page is off the charts. Don't message music bloggers with links without some sort of introduction as to who you are and how you're acquainted with them. Let people naturally find you through word of mouth. Spamming is never the right answer, and if you do it enough, the SoundCloud police will find you sooner or later.
Cheat the system by creating multiple accounts
When SoundCloud first rose to popularity, conniving users quickly found methods of cheating the system and gaining thousands of followers and plays that were not a real representation of the fanbase. Creating 15-plus accounts in order to develop a fake community is one of the worse decisions you can make on SoundCloud. Be honest with yourself and have faith in your natural progression as an artist. Your stats will rise accordingly when you earn it. Cheating the system is only cheating yourself.
Violate the rules
SoundCloud has a long list of rules that they're enforcing more and more due to major label pressures, so be careful with what you upload. If your mix contains a sample or song that isn’t permitted, they'll hit you with "strikes," and after three, your account will be shut down. You want to avoid this fate at all costs, so be respectful of the company's policies.
Eric Bernsen is a marketing/public relations professional and music journalist who specializes in the genre of hip-hop. You can find more of his work at HITPmusic.com (where he is an editor/writer) as well as HipHop-N-More.com, where he contributes album reviews. Follow Eric on Twitter @ebernsen.