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!)

SoundCloud isn’t sitting around hoping you’ll figure it out, though; they have some tips:
SoundCloud 101: How to host your events sampler!
SoundCloud 101

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.

  • LeMel

    So, if I'm understanding correctly, with foursquare integration one could potetially release a bonus track that could only be heard if you were on the premisies of, for example, one of the locations of the sponsoring establishment?

  • Bynar

    I am a little wary of the foursquare technology. Nobody needs to know where I uploaded a track at any given moment. Foursquare is just a little to "big brother" in my opinion. The whole concept of "checking in" seems to suggest that users are prescribing to the authority of a higher power. Yikes! 

  • lala

    listening to field-recordings from around the world is fun for us audio-nerds, but for joe regular who gets his music from radio, youtube & itunes?

    audio of festivals from some handheld mic isn't very interesting without videostreams…

    i always read mobile this & mobile that, but if you are not part of the poverty jet set mobility means going from your bed to the bathroom to work & back; and if you are outside of the u.s. the way from home to work is under 150 miles…

    i hate location stuff; its nobody's business where i am

  • ex-fanboy

    well finally. i used rant against this kind of stuff on cdm but was always called a tinfoil hat wearing paranoid. at least a few others are beginning to grasp the nihlistic concept of "well that sounds neat, lets try it before we think about it." No i'm not talking about letting loose and improvising a piece of music etc. you know what i mean.

  • strunkdts

    im with with you guys.

  • Grumpy

    ^ nice to see people are startiing to see the downside of all this location aware big brother stuff! google now have a location feature that you can't circumvent. Even if you have your browser set with location off they get it from your ip address. You can only select locations within your country. when you try to change they have some patronising bs about how important location is to searches. need another search engine!

  • lala

    maybe peter should get rid of the like button

  • Peter Kirn

    Location services are almost always opt-in, because privacy is a concern. In this case, the whole transaction is opt-in — the Foursquare connection, your account details, sharing location.

    To suggest an opt-in service is a violation of privacy is absurd.

    So, yes — think about it. And maybe, as this comment thread suggests, the issue isn't even so much privacy invasion as the lack of a particular purpose.

    I could see some applications; I imagine it could be useful to someone. We'll see.

  • ex-fanboy

    peter, no one here wrote that an opt-in service is a problem, only that such services, when used have privacy issues. and opt-in ist only code for "at the moment". how many people read TOS's? what about apple's friend locater in their iphones, which most people don't realise is on by default.

    it's called getting you acclimated. not to see THAT because of toy addiction, now that's absurd!