Sometimes things look interesting even before you can fully grasp just what they mean. Such is the case, I think, with what’s happening with SoundCloud’s on-the-go tools. Now, back in the beginning of this service, I predicted it’d become the Flickr of audio, and I wasn’t alone. But it’s becoming something else, something that really involves mobility.
The SoundCloud crew are out at South by Southwest, as good a gathering as any for the intersection of Web nerd culture with music and film. And they have something to show for it, too: they’re unveiling new Android and iOS mobile apps, among other updates – and location, with FourSquare.
Android phone owners certainly no longer need to feel like second-class citizens, with bug fixes, track commenting, and Twitter and Facebook sharing. You can also add widgets to your homescreen, a feature that iOS lacks. (I have to say, for all of iOS’ sophistication, the one thing Android does very well is make apps integrate with one another, and with data and the cloud.)
There are updates not only for Android, but iOS and desktop, too, detailed in a blog post geared for South by Southwest:
Create & Share (Even) More Easily
Both Android and iOS users get Foursquare interaction. That could mean … well, something. The ability to make recording a sound an event, to tie it to a place in the real world, is theoretically compelling. Exactly what you’d do with this data I think has a lot to do with the content itself. Might this be a way to tie, say, a live set to the venue at which it was played, or sound samples of an interactive art gallery installation, or an open mic night that has recordings and not just pictures? Possibly – although there’s nothing saying you really need a fancy tool to do those things, either.
With the Interactive portion out of the way, SoundCloud now gets unleashed on South by Southwest’s Music Festival, which has grown to an extent that it feels like all musical output has collided on one point. It’s a quantum singularity as much as a music festival. So we’ll see if SoundCloud does something interesting at those events – or if it’s just another eager Web name against the backdrop of a lot of booze-drenched music parties. And to me, it’s an open question how to use these tools to get more people in person, in the flesh, at live events, which I think for many musicians is the goal. (That is, you’d use SoundCloud to encourage people to get off their computers and go hear some live music!)
Any of you in Austin or elsewhere in the musical world, if you do catch cool stuff happening with SoundCloud or other Internet-enabled audio, we’d love to hear about it.