Originally published: 12/2/2016
For the past several years, Soundcloud has faced criticism by those who upload music and even by those who simply listen. Over the summer, Soundcloud users wagged their fists at the streaming service for removing the community-centric “groups” feature. The site also began serving ads in 2014, and charging users to upgrade in order to avoid them (among other additional features), further frustrating users.
It seems there’s never a period of a few months in which Soundcloud turns its users against it, whether that’s really the malice of the company “selling out” intentionally or not, or whether it’s the greedy content creators getting upset when Soundcloud stops handing out their services on a silver platter.
What matters though is that content creators feel the walls are closing in on them. Thread after thread on Reddit forums, post after post on social media, article after article on blogs and websites, the question is the same: what are the alternatives to Soundcloud?
Looking for a Soundcloud Alternative
People want to know – mainly those who upload their own musical creations – where can they turn to when the frustration against Soundcloud becomes insurmountable? What if Soundcloud caves, not financially, but in the sense that it loses its user base?
And with the news that SoundCloud may go bankrupt, it’s not more pressing that indie artists everywhere look elsewhere for a service to host their music.
Below you’ll find a complete list of websites like Soundcloud that you can use – both as a fan and as an artist – to post, listen and share music with the world. Some are better than others; some are more established than others. With everything, there are pros and cons, so it is up to you to determine which one you put your weight behind.
For those weary of long descriptions, I threw together a quick and dirty comparison chart that you can check out at the bottom of this post. Consider it my TL;DR for you.
Sites Like SoundCloud – The Best Alternatives
What’s so great about Bandcamp is the monetization aspect. Say you purchase your favorite indie artist’s new album for $5. Bandcamp takes a small cut of that, but the majority of that $5 goes straight to the artist (in my experience, someone paying $25 for an album yields just over $20 for the artist).
This is a huge deal in an industry where artists can easily get cut out of their own earnings thanks to all the middlemen and women in between the artist and their fans. If you’re looking to reach directly to your fans, or conversely if you’re looking to directly support an artist as a fan, Bandcamp is a great alternative to Soundcloud.
They’re also always bettering themselves, including improving on their rising blog, which I might add occasionally promotes artists through editorial pieces. Another good reason to use Bandcamp is because you can use it as your artist website. Bandcamp Pro allows you to get some premium features like a custom domain, so you can have “artistname.com” lead to your Bandcamp page where people can buy music and merch and connect with your social media, making Bandcamp an awesome one-stop shop for artists and fans alike.
Best for: reaching more listeners; making money off your music
Many artists and fans may think that YouTube is only good for high-quality music videos, but this is simply not the case anymore, and it hasn’t been for a while.
Remember when Joey Bada$$ said he found the beat to “Christ Conscious” by typing “Joey Bada$$ type beat” into YouTube? And also when A$AP Rocky did the same to find the beat for “Fine Whine”? Yeah – that actually happened.
Most importantly, those beats weren’t videos, they were just beats with still images as the “video.” Artists can and should take advantage of YouTube’s huge audience and very user-friendly platform to share music with the everyday fan.
I’m not saying go and name all your beats “*rapper* type beat,” but I am saying to create an audience on YouTube by uploading your sounds there, too. Be sure to brand your videos and include important info in the description.
Who knows, maybe another user will add your beat to a playlist that’ll rack up views. Maybe your beat will get discovered by a random artist who wants to work with you. You’ll miss the opportunity if you don’t take it, so cover all your avenues and secure your brand by uploading content to YouTube.
When the time comes for you to create actual music videos, hopefully you will already have formed some sort of audience ready to watch and share your content.
Best for: all types of projects, including singles and albums; music videos; reaching more listeners; discovering underground music
Out of all the platforms I looked at for this article, Audiomack was probably my favorite. Audiomack partnered up with DJBooth.net four years ago and ever since, Audiomack has been gaining steam as a formidable music streaming service.
In more ways than not, Audiomack is a bonafide alternative to Soundcloud. There are the usual features: share, like/favorite, repost, add to playlist, etc.
Audiomack, however, finds more of a balance between the music streaming system, network and community of Soundcloud, and the profile pages chock full of useful artist info and other content as seen on Reverbnation.
You can embed videos that can be watched onsite to accompany tracks. You can earn extra plays on your other tracks with Audiomack’s “recent tracks” list that appears on the page below your track’s description.
On a more technical level, Audiomack’s internal linking structure is gorgeous (please excuse me while I nerd out). In the song banner, all of the song information is included and is linked out to other pages on Audiomack.
If your song has a featured artist on it, Audiomack can link to that artist’s Audiomack page right in the track details beneath your song title. The same goes for the genre and uploader account.
Audiomack also has a ranking feature, essentially a “chart” system so trending tracks can be more easily found. Best of all, Audiomack lets you know how well your track is doing as it lists the rankings right in the banner. The rankings are for today, this week, this month, and all time.
Finally, AudioMack is really just a clean, professional looking website and its service is so intuitive, it’s a shame it isn’t up to par with Soundcloud as far as popularity is concerned. Hopefully, with this information, more artists will flock there and help grow the service even more so that one day it can get the user base it deserves.
Best for: all types of projects, including singles and albums; reaching more listeners; discovering underground music
There are tons of sites like this, sites that allow you to upload single tracks to easily and quickly share with others. I think of clyp.it as the audio equivalent to something likeor Google Drive or Imgur, where you can make an account and participate, but if you just need a quick way to upload something and share it, that’s an option, too.
Clyp.it tries to play in Soundcloud’s court, but its severely lacking userbase prevents it from really getting ahead like Audiomack or Bandcamp has.
In many ways, Clyp.it functions like Soundcloud, with waveforms, the ability to share, comment on and like tracks, etc. But the community and discoverability of music on Clyp.it are missing somewhat.
Emphasis is placed on the audio, not the artists behind the audio, and I think that’s where the problem lies. I wouldn’t go to Clyp.it to see what a new user posted. I may only return to Clyp.it to see what new random sounds have appeared in the feed.
If I’m more focused on what music I want to discover, Clyp.it is not for me. If I like to find my music as randomly as clicking through StumbleUpon, perhaps I can find some gems on Clyp.it. Until, however, there is a stronger community base and an increased ability to interact with other users (like even being able to follow an artist), I do not think Clyp.it can really extend beyond being a convenient and easy place to quickly upload individual tracks to share elsewhere.
Best for: sharing single tracks offsite
Mixcloud is really aimed at podcasts and mixes, hence the name. Yet their service is more encompassing than that, allowing users to click through different genres to hear new music (kind of like Spotify), and also allowing users to upload mixtapes and such (albeit, as one single track).
Most of what I find on Mixcloud are “shows,” such as talk shows in the form of podcasts, or “radio” shows, where a DJ has uploaded a mix they put together, and in many cases performed. Few and far between are mixtapes, presumably because hardly anyone wants to sit and listen to a single mix that contains tons of tracks, especially in the current single-centric climate.
Since single tracks are the standard on Mixcloud as it’s the only way to upload content, an artist could just post individual tracks there. What may be more beneficial, however, is to create a mix of your tracks and upload that. This would be more in tune with what Mixcloud prefers and what Mixcloud users expect.
One final note: Mixcloud is very personal. Similar to something like Pandora, Mixcloud is really about users finding sounds that cater to their tastes and creating their own listening experience. Mixcloud does not establish the connection between creators and consumers as Soundcloud or Audiomack do, rather it just lets the audio be part of the greater Mixcloud catalog for users to (hopefully) stumble upon.
So if you’re just looking for a place to increase your exposure, a mix of your tracks uploaded to Mixcloud may be a good bet, but don’t look to connect with your fans in earnest, or even interact with other users period.
Best for: mixes; discovering underground music
This little-known service was perhaps the most surprising of the bunch. Looking like Soundcloud on steroids, Hearthis.at’s website is crowded with a ton of content.
There on the homepage are tons of tracks ready to be listened to, and their appearance is strikingly similar to Soundcloud. Aesthetically, Hearthis.at and Audiomack come closest to replicating (and in some cases, improving upon) Soundcloud.
Again, Hearthis.at has most of what Soundcloud has – feeds, profile pages, the ability to like, comment and share tracks, and more. But Hearthis.at offers features I didn’t even know I wanted, namely the Maps feature.
Hearthis.at’s Maps is a really cool way to bring your local music scene to you. Much like Reverbnation’s focus on local music, Hearthis.at’s Maps feature essentially shows you artists who’ve uploaded tracks near you. This is an incredible way to bring local artists and fans together; however, due to Hearthis.at’s smaller user base, I was surprised to see no uploaders in my area over the past 90 days (and I live in the middle of a major U.S. city).
Another handy feature is the ability to sort your feed by genre, length of the track, and when it was uploaded. You can also choose to share or hide the track plays, likes, and shares, as well as the featured “popular” tracks that prominently display at the top of the feed.
For those die-hard fans of Soundcloud’s groups which met their demise this year will be excited to hear that Hearthis.at has a groups feature; however, it’s not quite the same as what Soundcloud has. Really, it’s like a public playlist where you can share artists and songs. If Hearthis.at can expand this to create community-driven groups like Soundcloud had, then I can imagine a ton of new users may flock to the service.
One more bonus Hearthis.at has up its sleeve is the ability to sell your music through the service. All you have to do is become “official,” and upon approval by Hearthis.at, you will be able to sell your music directly to fans.
Overall, Hearthis.at has a great look and feel and functions just like Soundcloud. Profile pages are robust and nicely designed, the content is easy to sift through, and you can explore genres just like most of the popular music streaming services.
Hearthis.at is definitely the surprise underdog of the music streaming services I looked at, and is a strong contender against Audiomack and Soundcloud. I recommend Hearthis.at be used just like you would Soundcloud, especially because you can directly import your Soundcloud profile into Hearthis.at.
Best for: singles; establishing local reputation; connecting with other artists; discovering underground music
This service I discovered through Reddit and despite being soft-launched a year ago, it’s still in Beta. What that means is that things can change in the future, and whether that’s good or bad is subject to time. For now, RepX is very minimalistic in its appearance, but has a lot of the control that Bandcamp offers to artists.
What’s unique about RepX are its different business models for artists to make money off of their music. You can do the traditional models of having listeners purchase your music to get it, or having users pay to stream your music on RepX. Other models include ad-supported, subscription-based, and the really unique one, tips-based.
So not only can you control how much users pay, you control how they pay.
Within RepX is the Marketplace, where you can check out songs, videos, and playlists uploaded by creators. The few tracks I looked at seemed to follow a trend: pay a few cents to stream or watch the content, and pay something like 0.99¢ to purchase the song or video. To pay for the content, you add a credit card to your account which can then be used as “credits” to pay artists for their content.
RepX is perhaps the most unique out of all these services, but as you may have guessed, due to their young age, not only are they not as known or established, they don’t have as big an audience, so I wonder how much artists are actually making on the site as of now.
Once RepX passes their Beta phase and becomes a full-fledged service, perhaps we’ll see more features, general improvements, and more users to make the site worthwhile. For now, it may be worth it to keep an eye out to see what they have coming out, especially as they hold a potentially revolutionary way for artists to make money off their content without resorting to distribution services to publish their music on iTunes, Spotify and elsewhere.
Best for: making money off your music
Ever since Soundcloud dominated the music streaming realm beginning at the start of the decade, Reverbnation has lost some of its clout. Do not be mistaken, however, Reverbnation is still strong and could potentially be useful to many artists.
Reverbnation’s site is pretty on-point with their design, layout, features, and content. The service’s strong point is catering to local indie artists, and that’s just the kind of artist that should consider Reverbnation as a viable outlet for his or her own music.
Reverbnation may not have the record that Soundcloud or Bandcamp has, but their service is jam-packed with features every artist could use, such as electronic press kits, social syncing, email marketing, advertising, digital distribution and much more.
They also have a pretty good Discover feature, similar to most of the other music streaming services, where you can easily find indie music tailored to your tastes.
What’s more, Reverbnation has a nifty Shows feature that lists local shows going on near you. Remember how I said Reverbnation is all about local indie artists? The Shows feature plays into that, connecting local artists with local fans, just like Hearthis.at’s Maps feature.
There are some limitations to the service, but all in all, it’s a great one-stop shop for artists to host a few select songs, music videos, and much more. Similar to Bandcamp, Reverbnation has a strong setup and, while it may not be as relevant, is definitely an outlet for rising indie artists.
Best for: establishing local reputation; branding; artist overview
Ah, good ol’ DatPiff, the mixtape mecca. Datpiff has always focused on mixtapes (and bad album artwork – I kid, I kid). But there is nothing stopping users from uploading singles, in fact, DatPiff has a singles section right in the menu.
DatPiff can be the host of several great projects, as they have been for many years (you’ll know because they throw the “DatPiff Exclusive” sound byte and meta info on everything). There are, as you probably know, incredible numbers of duds on the site, though, too.
Furthermore, DatPiff’s music tends to cater to the trap/hardcore rap style, so it may be harder for artists that make, say, beat tapes or alternative hip-hop or other subgenres of hip-hop to get as much attention. That being said, DatPiff is still a great site for hosting mixtapes – they are the “Mixtape Authority” after all.
The comment sections are very active, so you can bet on getting direct feedback from listeners if your project gets enough plays. And while the layout is crowded, especially by “official” projects released by established artists, there are some indie artists who make their way through the ranks and earn some attention from their DatPiff-hosted mixtapes.
Don’t cross this one off the list – it may be worth it to post your full-length project on here, but I also recommend posting it elsewhere, like Bandcamp.
Best for: mixtapes; albums
This music service is like a stripped-down version of Soundcloud. Teetering between the minimalism of Clyp.it and the branded style of Soundcloud, Yung.Cloud focuses on the music and the artist, that’s it.
Just like Soundcloud, the main focal points are around the Stream, which is made up of tracks uploaded by friends you add on the service, and Explore, which is where you can go to discover new music uploaded by other artists to the site.
Profile pages look almost exactly like Soundcloud’s profile pages, save for the waveforms and color scheme. Yung.Cloud has the added bonus of archiving your music, sort of like a blog’s archives, so users can search through your older music more easily instead of having to scroll and scroll.
In pretty much every other way, Yung.Cloud is just like Soundcloud. You can like, share, comment, and repost music you find, add friends (instead of following), and create playlists of your favorite songs.
As we’ve seen before, though, the detriment to Yung.Cloud is its smaller user base. Once more people find out about Yung.Cloud, I suspect its high similarity to Soundcloud will be encouraging for others to transition to the service more comfortably.
Best for: single tracks, free streaming
Didn’t think this was still around, did you? Soundclick is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) music streaming site of its kind, having started in 1997 and still going.
Soundclick isn’t nearly as aesthetically pleasing as the rest of the services I’ve looked at, but it’s pretty stock in terms of what it offers. I can easily browse music from specific artists, or by genre.
The community on Soundclick is very strong and there are plenty of spaces on the site to interact with other users and other artists. This strength comes with time, being that members have been around for a long time, as opposed to any particular aspect of the site itself. Besides the forums, there aren’t any comment sections on the tracks themselves and no onsite sharing.
Soundclick has an added benefit of allowing artists to sell their music, which is popular among beatmakers looking to sell their beats to rappers.
The OG service really is a social hub for music makers to come together and share their content. I doubt that fans are as active as those who actually make music, but it could be worth it to join a community of fellow creators. Plus, Soundclick’s blog and forum are full of good information for indie artists.
Best for: connecting with other artists; singles
I was recently told about this really great platform for beatmakers and have fallen in love with it.
While music fans and recording artists are able to join BeatStars and benefit from its many features, the service is a remarkable platform geared towards beatmakers that helps connect them with artists willing to purchase their beats.
The service works by connecting beatmakers with artists looking for beats. A producer will upload a beat and set the price (I’ve seen beats go for $10 and others for $50). The beats are sold with a non-exclusive license, which means that the producer still retains the rights to the beat and can resell it over and over.
While an artist may not be too keen on not having exclusivity with a beat they purchased, this really helps out the beatmaker as they don’t have to give up a beat to one artist.
Additionally, there are “Active Opportunities” where bigger artists who are looking for beats open up submissions. At press time, the likes of Krayzie Bone from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Freddie Gibbs, and Mozzy were all looking for beats from BeatStars producers.
BeatStars is really out to help make the producer money, something founder Abe Batshon thinks is important considering how difficult it is for producers to earn a profit and gain recognition with the present industry model and current industry climate.
The site itself is jam-packed with content for you to experience, from a feed of recently published beats that looks like a standard blogroll to a genre section where you can filter out beats by style, and much more.
BeatStars goes even further with its charts features. You can view charts sorted by the most popular beats, the most popular beats with a chorus, song reference tracks, and more. There is even a “Top Collabos” chart to view productions crafted together by more than one artist.
The service steps it up a notch with their social network-esque chatrooms. Here, producers and artists can chat, send private messages, share videos, host AMA’s (ask me anything), and get access to exclusive content and giveaways. Best of all, the service is available as an app called BeatStars Chat, which you can download on your mobile device to chat with like-minded artists wherever you’ve got Internet service.
To get more insight on BeatStars, I highly recommend you read this interview with BeatStars’ founder, Abe Batshon, which was recently featured in Forbes. And if you’re really digging the idea of BeatStars, you can support their crowdfunding venture and own equity in the company.
Best for: selling instrumentals, buying instrumentals
This music hosting/monetization service is certainly on the rise within the independent musicians’ circle – and for good reason.
ORFIUM is very similar to Soundcloud in that it offers users to create profiles that feature a feed of their account activity, as well as tabs for albums, tracks, playlists, and something totally unique, their events.
Kind of like a mashup between Facebook artist pages and Soundcloud, ORFIUM finds a nice balance between creating a social space for artists, as well as easily and aesthetically sharing music by independent artists of many different genres and musical niches.
An artist’s profile page is broken up into three columns, the above features taking up the majority of space right in the middle. On the left, artists can show off their social clout by linking to social networks and showing how many followers they have, as well as recent updates. On the right is your personal profile section, as well as where the media player stays while you browse the site.
ORFIUM’s discover feature is also on-par with that of Soundcloud and Spotify. Discover the latest on ORFIUM or the most popular. Or you can search music by category (genre), sub-category (subgenre), or mood.
Best of all, artists can sell their music directly to listeners, so it’s an easy way to monetize your music (plus, ORFIUM pays artists 80%!). BONUS: you can also upload remixes, they explicitly allow it. DOUBLE BONUS: monetize whenever someone uses your music in YouTube videos you can …crazy!
ORFIUM is definitely solid competition for Soundcloud, the site just needs more users before the community and content are up to par with the bigger players.
Best for: connecting with other artists; all types of projects, including singles and albums; discovering underground music
This minimalistic streaming service strips down all the design and sections and consolidates it all to just a few tabs.
When you sign into your account, you’re greeted with a pretty plain profile page that defaults to your feed, which features all of your account activity.When you view a track, it’s similar to Soundcloud’s layout, just full screen. So far, similar to Soundcloud in functionality.
You’ll notice that there are not too many places to dig around in Fanburst; you’re able to navigate the service’s content by viewing either what is popular or what is considered a trending playlist. This is where you will discover all of your music on Fanburst.
Click on an artist’s profile and you will see pretty much what you’d expect to a site similar to Soundcloud: a profile header, the ability to follow an artist, and a stream of tracks and playlists by the artist.
The service is still in its infancy, so with more users and more content, Fanburst can help foster a community of independent artists looking for a decent Soundcloud alternative.
Best for: all types of projects, including singles and albums; discovering underground music
Which Soundcloud Alternative Is Best?
With all of these great services, it may be hard to choose which one is best for you. While you may benefit from literally posting your music on all of these services, it’s probably not worth the effort.
I suggest you take a look at what your short- and long-term goals are for your music, and choose which services to focus your efforts on for each. You may find it to be easy to upload singles to Audiomack, but when it comes time to release an album, Bandcamp may be the better option.
Whichever you choose, I hope I’ve made it a bit easier to decide which service to use, and as more services inevitably come along, I will add them to this post so check back if you’re still having trouble deciding in the future!