In addition to a cleaner browser layout, SoundCloud is bringing more functionality to mobile, starting Thursday. Images courtesy SoundCloud.

For some months, a lot of us have been using an overhauled SoundCloud interface. Playback works better, and everything is bigger, clearer, and more usable. A lot has changed, but I think the simplest endorsement is this: I haven’t wanted to go back to the old version, ever.

Today, SoundCloud is launching that new UI for everyone. They’re also taking the opportunity to tout just how much usage they’re getting. SoundCloud’s founders have routinely told people they believe sound and music will be essential media for the Internet, making comparisons to video. Now, they have some numbers. There are 10 hours of uploads to SoundCloud every minute. The new version is increasing “engagement measures” (no specifics on that at the moment) by 30%. Most tellingly, SoundCloud claims reach of 180 million people monthly, or “8% of the entire Internet population.”

Impressive, but since you probably care more about how this impacts you than the Earth, here’s a quick summary of what’s new, and pictured in official SoundCloud screenshots. (Uh, sorry, I’ll take my own soon … how about I use that time to upload some more music/sound to SoundCloud instead?)

The centerpiece of the upgrade is this overhauled stream – a much more pleasant place to spend your time listening to music and sounds.

What’s new in a nutshell:

  • Easier signup and landing pages for new users (or “onboarding,” though that sounds to me like a waterskiing injury or something that happens if you upset the Pirate Captain)
  • Facebook integration, with sign-up, friend finding, suggestions based on other likes
  • Explore page
  • Related sounds and suggestions
  • Overhauled, improved search – this was a big complaint about the previous version. It’s still not perfect, but it’s actually worth using now.
  • Continuous Play
  • Highlighted creators
  • Improved Sets, now in single waveforms (a la mixes)
  • Reposts
  • Real-time notifications for creators
  • A more complete experience on mobile, rolling out on Thursday: reposts, updated mobile search, and improved usability are coming this week to iOS and Android apps.

“Related Sounds” helps you discover sounds from around SoundCloud. In my testing, its results were mixed, but it’s a nice “needle-drop” way of finding new work.

Improved search is key; having been a major complaint regarding previous versions.

SoundCloud also touts a lot of what they’re bringing to Creators. An improved interface, Facebook connectivity, and sharing features, say the company, are intended to bring wider exposure to your work. And that’s essential if SoundCloud is to flourish: you care when you upload about whether you benefit from those uploads.

That, in turn, brings us to Sets. As you may have discovered, you can take existing SoundCloud sounds and turn them into integrated Sets. One thing I’m certain readers will bring up: yes, SoundCloud will sometimes flag mixes if you use copyrighted material, based on an automated algorithm. That algorithm appears not to be perfect; that is, it flags some content, but not all. The issue is this: some sites allow you to upload sets of music either because they’re running afoul of the law, or they’re paying license fees that allow them to stream legally.

Creators are now featured both in the interface and in editorial. Nice to see our friends at Disquiet in the press photos!

What’s interesting about Sets in SoundCloud is that, with some artist participation, it could allow greater interaction between mix creators and original creators – artists and labels. By having you add this content from SoundCloud, those creators get notifications on their music being played. That’s not the same as revenue, but since for many artists exposure is the major currency rather than royalties, it could be even more important. We’ll have to explore how this feature works – and see if people making mixes for online distribution embrace the idea.

More images of what’s new:

Lots of SoundCloud sounds are hosted as embeds and the like. The ‘Explore’ page promises a SoundCloud that acts as a starting point for finding music.

Music discovery is featured even on the new, cleaner landing page for new users.

Try it yourself. As from today, when you login (apparently even if you were in the beta), you’ll see a banner at top that reads: “You’re using an old version of SoundCloud. | Get the new SoundCloud” – click, and you’re in.

http://soundcloud.com

  • http://twitter.com/iOSMusician iOS Musician Blog

    what happened to the ‘You’ tab?

    • JakeRumbles

      Ya, I’ve been wondering that. I miss it.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      You’re looking for a place that consolidates your stuff, then? I need to map out where things are now, based on feedback…

  • http://twitter.com/colab_toronto colab

    I really miss the ability to see what the people I follow have liked. Used to be on the dashboard, but it seems you have to go to each profile individually now to see their favourites.
    Used to be my favourite way to discover new music and new artists – sort of like a curated list of recommendations.

    • Christian

      Yeah. Me too. To see what other people comment on and likes is essential for me. The new version is useless without it.

    • kylem

      Forget about it guys, it’s over, they sold out. We have just exchanged one group of middle men for another. Kim Megauploads with slick hair cuts.

  • http://twitter.com/jefflaity Jeff Laity

    Can you embed sound files on a web page and have them play every time you click them now? That would be a huge upgrade.

  • http://twitter.com/renzumusic Sean Bires

    doing anything in the back-end for users (uploading/editing things, moderating groups, updating your profile, etc.) still dumps you into the old interface :p

  • qwerty

    I have to say I’m very disappointed in this update. I understand all the hard work that must have gone into it, but I hated the beta (as did many other users), and it doesn’t look as though they’ve taken any feedback into account. While the new interface is more polished texturally, IMO it’s a highly distracting interface that’s difficult to glean information from at a glance.

    Many features of the classic style are missing, such as groups (at least on the profile), favorites from friends, track lists for sets, etc. The icons for comments are laughably tiny and basically impossible to tell who they belong to. Way too much gray on white for information that’s should be jumping out at you. The profile page has less stats than before, and when you try to view the full stats it just takes you to the classic interface, which causes the user to have to context switch constantly to do anything non-trivial, which is one the cardinal sins of interface design.

    Again, in case I sound like a whiny ingrate. I’m a programmer myself and I understand this must have been an enormous effort. But sadly, at least from my perspective it really feels like a step backwards as far as usability is concerned. This is SoundCloud’s Windows 8. Hopefully it will improve, or if it doesn’t they’ll keep the classic interface around for a spell.

  • Eric Carl

    I haven’t spent a lot of time with it but the first thing that really bothered me was the neutered functionality of spotlighted tracks (available with the premium accounts). The number of tracks an artist can spotlight has been reduced to 3, with no way to change their display order other than removing them all and adding them back in the order desired for display.

    I suppose its a small feature, but it really limits the control paying members have for how their list of content is displayed.

  • Doug

    I wholeheartedly prefer the old version. The ‘Who to Follow’ tab makes me angry.

  • Colas

    “Creators” has to be the most pretentious word of 2011, please bin it SoundCloud, it’s nearly as cliched as the intersection between…

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I expect they needed a word that covered people making music and making other kinds of sounds that aren’t music.

  • http://rekkerd.org Ronnie

    So is there really no way to remove individual tracks from your stream?

    • JP

      Did you ever find a way to do this?!

    • http://rekkerd.org Ronnie

      I’m afraid not, crazy huh?

    • Theseus Wrex

      Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous. This is the deal-breaker for me. Regardless of the other features, if I have to keep looking at the same tracks every single time I log in, I refuse to use it. I’ve tweeted about it and I’ve gotten responses from their @SCsupport account saying that they’re “working on it,” and that they’re “listening” to our recommendations. It’s been months and still no change.

      Something tells me they have no intentions to make it possible to remove tracks from your stream. Hopefully someone will come up with a plugin for Chrome and FireFox so we can do it on our own.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ajeales Andrew Eales

    Reposts are a cool idea with great potential, but badly realised here, because the original musician/content provider is not receiving sufficient credit. Since another user reposted a couple of my piano tracks I have found a bunch of comments from listeners praising that user’s playing, not mine. Although I do get a credit it is apparently too small to be noticed by many listeners, who assume the person reposting the track is the original creator of it. This is a serious problem. It has taken me a bunch of my time to go through the tracks and delete all those comments which would mislead other listeners into crediting a different artist… and deleting comments is much more time consuming in the new Soundcloud, as it is necessary to visit the track page and find each comment in the list, rather than just delete them within the player as before. A real step backwards.
    I would like to suggest the following tip to all fellow Soundclouders so that you continue to receive proper credit for your music. Head over to soundcloud now and rename all your tracks as follows:
    Your Name: Track Name.
    This will ensure that whoever reposts your music will not steal all the credit, but that you will get the exposure that as an artist you deserve. Soundcloud no longer seem to care so much about that, in spite of a huge amount of negative feedback from beta testers over recent months. So you owe it to yourself to protect your work.

  • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

    Good feedback from everyone; keep it coming and I’ll pass it along to SoundCloud – in some cases, we may find a fix, in others, I’ll make sure your thoughts get heard.

  • Alkama

    Authors credit in this new version has become an “option”. Now sets can embed tracks from other artists in the same timeline, but hides all the track names or artists info in the embedded view :( praise goes to the “assembler” and artists disappear.

    Another crap idea, statistic recaps vanished from the page, gotta go to the full statistic page just to know if someone listened to something.

    Finally, the sets are now obfuscating tracknames and make navigating tracks in the set hard… I liked how I could previously group tracks like albums, not for continuous play but for semantical grouping. It’s gone. Now you simply can’t direct someone to a track in the “previews” set ;( stupid…

    Finally, we are back in time with main artist page having no more customizable land page . You can’t reorder anything. And the rest of the tracks are just messy in upload order… No more back catalogue upload coz it would obscure new tracks and confuse users that those are older tracks.

  • moonbase

    So sad. It reminds me of the Vimeo improvement (sic) debacle.

    Bigger images and bigger text reduce both actual and perceived quality and require four times as much scrolling and swiping and eye movement to navigate, to ‘take in’ quickly and efficiently. This results in it ‘feeling’, and therefore being, a backward step for existing users.
    It will look nice on a padpod.
    Huge ugly unnecessary waveforms ruining any intelligent use of negative space and destroying what was a classy look.
    Pandering to all things social & following bandwagons instead of building on what they had.
    The faux friendly chatty hellos and goodbyes – Welcome! Hey! We missed you!!!!!!
    Excessive use of the exclamation mark is always a sign of decay and failure!!!!!!!!!
    Reduced functionality all round.

    I don’t visit Vimeo just to ‘look around’ at all any more because it no longer works for me.
    I only visit when a link takes me there.

    Change based on style, fashion or investor requirements is never in the best interests of intelligent users.

  • moonbase

    Aaaaaghhhh … they’ve even got a big Vimeoish drop down poppyuppy flash click scroll thing at the top to save some of the space they wasted with the waveforms!!!!
    He exclaimed ))

  • boboter

    I am also very dissapointed with the update. It feels like it is made for listeners only. But I fear that artists will lose a lot of reach through it. The main way to discover new music is through likes. If 15 people I follow like a track, chances are good that I also like it. To make the likes dissapear from the dashboard is a horrible decission. And reposting music is a very different thing.

    Also, the reduced spotlight functions kinda suck. Why would they do that? I expected they would have enhanced them. I am up to renew my paid account but I feels like they reduced the package I’m paying for. So I might just use the free features.

    All the “creators” I know changed back to the original version immediately. But that is obviously not a solution for the long haul. Good reviews seem to come mostly from press/blogs. Most users seem to think different. Granted the new design is ok and I can live with some bugs in the first weeks (although the beta phase was quite long).

    All this makes me pretty sad since SC is/was my favourite platform and I met many great people through it. With the new version I might have missed them.

    And to end this rant: What’s up with the “Who to follow”-box? If I have to see a picture of Maroon 5 everytime I visit the page, I might stop uploading music all together…

  • http://www.facebook.com/ajeales Andrew Eales

    Has anyone worked out how to find tracks that have been privately shared? A regular collaborator has uploaded some stems for me, and I have no idea where they are – no notification, no obvious way to access them other than visiting his page. Even on his page there is no indication that they are private shared tracks for me, they are just jumbled into all his other stuff.
    Very annoying – it looks as if they either overlooked the needs of musicians collaborating (unlikely) or have decided that the refocused Soundcloud isn’t about providing musicians with useful tools any more. So sad…

  • http://marcoraaphorst.nl/ Marco Raaphorst

    that “8% of the entire Internet population” is interesting. where did you read/hear it Peter?

  • Wax – Vocode Records

    I’m surprised at the glowing review Peter – This update was buggy as hell and I wasn’t the only one who flipped back to the old version yesterday because of it being buggy – you had no issues with the site? FWIW I’m not running a 1998 windows machine either

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      It wasn’t really intended as a full review, just an overview of the changes.

      Reading through comments, people are clearly using SoundCloud in different ways, so it’s actually more helpful to me to review all of this feedback and go back through the site – as well as talk to SoundCloud about some of the usability concerns.

      “Buggy” is vague – any specifics? Or just a general feeling that things aren’t working the way you expected? (That’s clearly not good!)

    • wax

      sure I should have been more specific.

      Equipment: In essence, I’m running a 15″ Macbook Pro 2.4 Ghz Intel Core i5, 4 Gbs Ram, OS X 10.6.8, all updated drivers for everything.

      Issues: Slow loading (not my connection), Errors in loading pages, Refresh doesnt work, sometimes the page loads slowly, sometimes not at all. Hitting play on tracks resulted in page freezes. This was all yesterday.

      I switched back to old soundcloud for now.

  • Phos….

    I’m still (mostly) happily running a G5 PowerMac, and due to being brickwalled on browser updating because of the cascading state of my HW/SW antiquification, Soundcloud won’t let me enjoy the glory of the new version. It kinda torqued my carrot, like so many other apps and services which have orphaned us PPC users, but now having read this page I’m not too sad about being dumped back into the older version. I suppose pretty soon, they’ll probably pull that rug out, too, like the majority of other developers.

    Oh, and one more whinge, while I have the bullhorn:
    PLEASE, Soundcloud compadres…when you post a song to Facebook, provide direct links. I, and many people in my spheres refuse to allow FB-integrated apps to access our accounts. If I see the notice/alert/warning from FB that I have to allow them access to my account info in order to egt past their gatekeeper and onto the music, I click “CANCEL” every time. I understand the reasons why people might like to have their accounts integrated, but they’re not good enough reasons to abuse my friends with FB’s insidious bullsh¡t.

  • http://twitter.com/fernandogros Fernando Gros

    You can add me to the chorus of disappointment. As much as I liked the design ides in the next version,it simply doesn’t work as a music discovery platform. Not to mention that that it simply isn’t finished, with no new upload or stats sections.

    Not being able to see others likes, not being able to find people I know, or follow on other platforms is bad. But, perhaps the worst thing for me is not providing more features and flexibility at the high end of the premium accounts. Why don’t they offer,at the $500 a year package, multiple profiles from a single back end?

  • Phos….
  • Rob

    I really dislike this new version like everyone else does. With the old version there was an option to disable comments on tracks with one click. This SHOULD be an option to users since these comments pop up and annoyingly prevent a user from navigating within a track. Soundcloud, however, has basically bullied people against the wall by not giving this option anymore with this new version. Hurrah to you Soundcloud, definitely keeping your users’ needs in mind when you sat at the table to plan this new version.

  • Peter S.

    Uhhh, this just annoys me. I hate to be vague, but this update feels like they randomly moved buttons around and renamed things for the sake of having an update. It’s just harder to read because everything is all huge and Web 3.0 and has an ad for Facebook on top of it, and they’ve hidden basic features on separate pages where you wouldn’t think to look if you didn’t use it before. I like Soundcloud for the basic features – being a Myspace that still functions, allowing stuff to embed everywhere, and letting me click Following/Followers to find music that artists actually like. I wish more websites would be like Craigslist and just stick to the functionality.

  • wndfrm

    i also immediately switched back.. without even exploring the new UI very much.. i found it really distracting graphically, as much as i like the pretty waveforms.. my eyes wanted to wander all over the place, instead of looking at what i think is important, ie, the sounds on that page.. as opposed to what soundcloud thinks i should like, etc..

    when i send someone a link to my sounds, i really want them to be able to go there and “listen” , w/o having to think or navigate too much.. this is what i find valuable about the original interface, it’s very straightforward and doesn’t suffer (as much) from the “web 2.0″ type pratfalls of some other social media sites, the design seems to value function over form, or at least strike some kind of balance.

    the new look, seems just that, ‘look’.

  • msl

    I reverted back to the old one too, I couldn’t find the secret link option which is one of the things I use most often.. unless I’m missing it somewhere?

    I think the 3 items in spotlight instead of 5 as it was is not enough. I also still wish you could change the order of tracks or at least sets… I want to order my releases and certain tracks together, without having to delete everything and uploading in a specific order, its really annoying.

  • John

    The new mix track seems like an involuntary invasion of personal space.

    Soundcloud provides a helpful service but their interface and UX has always been not so great. Now it just continues to become more not so great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.ashbridge.7 Richard Ashbridge

    CDM – cant believe you are happy to be an unquestioning promoter of this. Where is your critical voice? It is very much a mixed bag. looking glossier and removing lots of little choices. Souncloud has a kind of monopoly on what it does and needs some watchdogs. Higher standard of journalism please.

  • pat gnoster

    There seems to be growing opposition among premium SoundCloud account members regarding Next SoundCloud. Here is perhaps the most eloquent statement of opposition:
    http://soundcloud.com/soundtrack-audio/my-thoughts-on-new-soundcloud. Here, a more lyrical one: http://soundcloud.com/r-37/refrain-dont-facebook-my. Then, a group of such tracks: http://snd.sc/Ri6Akm.

    As far as I can tell, SC management have not responded in any meaningful way to the concerns being voiced Management’s responses to complaints about Next (see: http://blog.soundcloud.com/2012/12/04/next-becomes-soundcloud/) seem canned, and maybe even cynical. Worse, a guy doing damage control for SC, Matas Petrikas, likens “passionate users” to “heroin and meth dealers,” on twitter, and “liked” this comment from McIntosh Cooey on Eric Wahlforss’ Facebook page: “Ha ha… I love how much users enjoy complaining when things change…” No big deal, I suppose, but certainly unprofessional. I hope SC will find the means to address some of its paying members complaints.

  • chisp

    What Id like to hear from Peter though is a more honest and critical analysis of what the whole thing is becoming and its effect on creativity and the music industry. Are all these content hosting sites just becoming the new middle men that they all claim to have “disrupted”? Are the only winners in this a bunch of faceless vcs, with musicians now finding their creations rendered worthless while the middle men buy yachts of the back of their “worthless” content and tell them to suck it up?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Francis/726367250 Nick Francis

    I’ve been using Soundcloud since the site began and I’m not happy with the changes. I use the site to primarily send private tracks of my radio show to a contact list of people who are fans of the show. The private tracks are no longer showing up in the dashboards/streams of the recipients, the email notifications are now getting lost (people not getting them) and the “secret links” don’t seem to allow direct downloading of the files.
    In addition, as a general user, I can no longer delete tracks that show up on my stream, which makes that page incredibly cluttered.
    Although there are some nice features added to this new version, overall the site now seems to be more designed for the “consumer/listener” and not the producer/content-maker. It’s getting harder for me to justify using this site any more for my purposes.

  • Franza

    can someone tell me where is the lovely function “send a track” that I used so many times in the old version??? Probably I’m the only one who doesn’t found it! :-)

  • velvett

    new soundcloud still sucks. I’m a listener, so when people day this change if listener-based, I don’t get it. Everytime I log in I change to classic. I wish I could use classic without logging in, I don’t always want to.

    I emailed them a few months ago with this, can’t find anywhere recent to comment …

    It’s over-complicated and busy-looking. The pics for the tracks
    are so big that they clutter the interface.

    It’s hard to see the length of the music- I want to quickly
    determine how long it is so I know if it’s one track or a set.

    It’s harder to find tracks that are easy to find in the old
    interface. The tabs on the page were easy, now it’s hard to see
    where the spotlight tracks end and the other tunes start, and how
    to get to see all the sets/tracks from there. I like the
    set/track/spotlight options so I can decide where I want to look.

    I also like the ability to load the tracks on various pages (old version),
    rather than them just filling up the bottom as I scroll.
    Sometimes I’ll have multiple pages open for one artist so I can
    load different sets at the same time. It also seems like I can’t
    preload sets anymore- I used to click play, then pause right away
    and let it load, and listen to something else while it goes.
    Sometimes I like to skip through to a part of the set, but I
    haven’t been able to do that anymore.

    I can’t see new music and activities of the people I follow.

  • Mathieu Raza

    really annoyed by having many kind of track and band i simply hate stuck in dashboard