Option “Allow other Soundcloud members to mix my track”

  • 2 January 2018
  • 1 reply

When uploading a new track, wouldn't it be a cool feature to provide other DJs on Soundcloud an opportunity to use that track for a mix or mashup?

In a nutshell:
  • Thousands of Soundcloud members (the producers) posting their newly created tracks every day.

  • A new feature should allow producers to decide whether an uploaded track is available for other SC members (the DJs) so they are allowed to use it in a mix or mashup; if this feature (see image) is enabled, new “DJ metadata” can also be added to those tracks so the DJs are able to easily find within seconds what they are looking for, likely resulting in an improved mixing quality and more reputation even for unknown (but talented) DJs.

  • When a DJ plans to create a mix, the big issue is often that there is actually no musical artist portal in the world that allows one to create and publish mixes without being certain to not get legal issues. To avoid copyright issues, a solution would be to go new ways and prepare a playlist only with tracks marked as “can be used for a mix”.

  • After a DJ finishes a mix and uploads it, every Soundcloud user (the audience) can listen to it and, due to a newly introduced playlist, refer to each individual track and to the artist created that track, likely resulting in a Win-Win situation
  • Producers: Getting attention for good songs from both the DJs and the SC audience
  • DJs: No need to worry anymore about copyright issues; easy access to a massive amount of mixable material thanks to the producers and improved search functionality. Based on the better situation for unknown DJ artists, it’s likely that also the audience will spend more attention to them

To make this idea work, it is very likely required to implement a mechanism to optionally limit the permission of mixable tracks to be only used on Soundcloud and not for other commercial purposes through disabling the “Allow external publications” check; see first image. This restriction is useful to give both smaller labels and major labels the possibility to say "You are allowed to use this track in your mix, but since we have a commercial interest, you are only allowed to publish your mix [that contains our track] here on SC with a reference-link [through the playlist] to our original track [which in turn contains the buy link, making a release more attractive since the audience might notice a possibly so far unknown track]".

(Kind of Beatport Mixes, which shut down the doors a few days ago, just better in terms that there is no need for the DJ to buy the track, as long as the track is not a snippet, or as long as there is no commercial interest of the track's owner)

Further, it should be possible for the uploader of a mixable track to add "metadata for DJs" containing information like:
  • The song's key*
  • Clearer (“more informative”) music genre information. The current system lacks on the tag system (where ten genres can be added in theory, giving no additional value for the searcher) and also the "Basic info->Genre" predefined selections are too common to meet DJs search requirements to search for desired tracks for a set in different ways (e.g. fixed and hierarchically structured categories shall be available like House->Club->Tribal or, more general, styles like Electronic->Chillout which may include also more specific genres like trance, ambient, IDM; also a sorting classification like “music for a particular mood” or “music for a particular target audience” are possible) – in other words, a DJ who is searching for a song should have the ability to search “in different directions”
  • BPM rate
  • Cue points; also “named” cue points would be cool in order to add information like “16 bars from here to the ... drop, outro, whatever”)
  • Loudness parameters like true peak, integrated loudness, loudness range, psychoacoustic/”felt” loudness, etc.)
  • Nice to have: Advanced stuff like section information (i.e. Vocals/Synth/Bassline/etc from .. to)

Important is that the uploader of a song is free to decide which of the newly available information he specify and which he omit – it must be sufficient to just specify “Allow other SC users to mix my track” in order to allow other users (DJs) to use the track for mixing purpose (either by downloading the track, if possible, or, in case the track is just a snippet/preview, by buying it; the exact same track; so no remix of it, which must be clearly shown to the user in a legal issue disclaimer). It might be useful to pre-compute trivial metadata like the loudness parameters while uploading. The more detailed and the better matching the provided DJ metadata is, the easier it will be for the DJs to quickly find the right tracks for her/his particular set in mind. So it will pay out for a producer doing a good job and specify the DJ metadata in a very exact way, because this will lead to the simple effect that producer’s well structured data is easier to find as long as the DJ is acting as filter and shortly listen to each track he found (of course, the badly structured data will be found as often as the good structured one on the first search, but a simple algorithm may quickly find out that those badly structured data, which the DJ will ignore/skip more frequently in average, is not as useful and can be degraded through a scoring algorithm on following searches). As nice side effect, this method will likely filter out spam or “quick uploads to just create an fake account” in a natural way since the bot/the user in hurry don't have the time and/or knowledge to set, for example, a well-matched genre or the key of the song correctly.

For DJs: Imagine, in case some major labels will hop onto this bandwagon and allow their music to be mixed - totally legal, in all countries. No copyright issues anymore after uploading a mix. Jesus, what a wonderful world this would be... (Even in the likely case that popular titles need to be bought by the DJs since it's about money and no label would provide a full version of a bestseller song for free on SC - in those cases, the “mix promotion” effect won't work)
But even if thinking a bit more pessimistic resp. realistic: It would be still a great feature also in case that no majors will hop on and only some of the smaller labels next to the many bedrooms producers will provide their latest tracks with the mentioned “allow mix” option (and I'm pretty sure many will, since it's better to sell some few tracks using this way than no tracks using the conventional way -> congested market)... So even then there will be a giant selection of mixable tracks after some time giving the DJs the opportunity, thanks to the newly available and powerful "DJ-Search Feature", which just needs to be implemented by the Soundcloud programmers :8 ), to quickly do a search on SC and collect suitable songs for DJ’s next set.

Another great feature would be to add support for STEMs “for a perfect mix” so that a track can be divided into some kind of layers. Each layer contains different types of musical instruments like Drums, FX, Synths, VOX, etc. I think this could really get a killer feature (making SC great again), but is also hard to implement for both the Soundcloud programmers** and the music creators***. Also I'm not sure how successful the STEM format actually is. So, dear Soundcloud programmers, it's ok to add this feature on your nice-to-have list :$

So far for the producer side... Surely, for the DJs, further functionality needs to be implemented in SC as well: While uploading the mix, there should be a GUI (as long as the upload is declared to be a mix, see checkbox on image 1 and 2) that allows a DJ adding the track list (which should become a requirement when uploading a mix) next to the other, optional information mentioned above. And most important, DJs have to make sure, when preparing a set, that all tracks played in the mix are allowed to be uploaded (i.e. by just searching on SC when selecting the tracks that are about to be played in the mix). This is really important because one single track in the playlist which is no “mix option” candidate can get a showstopper as the entire mix gets offline if the author/composer of that single track wants so.
Last not least, another GUI under the playback control is required when one is playing a mix in order to show the current track that is playing (_somehow_ like on the third image). A mouse click on the track text should lead the listener to the side with the original track. To simplify navigation in the mix, it might make sense to implement a functionality that jumps to a particular track on a mouse click (i.e. when clicking on the squared covert art of a track within the track list).

* This is a far underestimated information for DJs (w/o a perfect pitch) since today most or at least many DJs are using a technique called “mixing in key”, for which the knowledge of the correct key of a song is very important; especially because most modern key detection software is often wrong

** How to organize/store the different layers? And how to handle the real-time playback, which works completely different than the current playback engine that just need to handle two channels in one layer. (i.e. using pre-rendering: more memory usage on server-side and no preview functionality for single layers, but less runtime overhead; or using real-time mixing: higher server-side CPU-usage especially due to compression, data load on client-side may be delayed or at least slower if not recompressing the signal on server-side, etc.)

*** Mastering gets more complicated and the mixing stage requires more discipline

PS: Sorry for the long text, but this is already the shortened version 😃

1 reply

Funny I am amazed by the opposite. I am a composer who writes and orchestrates and arranges and plays and sing my own stuff. I work in every genre  sing, and play leads, harmonies ect oh and you can hear what I can do right on my page  and yet I can’t find any DJ’s or people who didn’t go to school or cannot play anything but a computer (Which is fine) but I don’t understand why no interest in anything.. What you are suggesting would be nice. Listen to my stuff and let me know if I can be of any help. ( You might be better than me in which case I’ll take your advice ;) ) I am currently working on a MacBook Pro with Logic 10.4.7 and controllers and Apple sends me new sounds and plugins almost every day and Most my stuff I could not tell if it is real ( Unless it’s just a part done demo being stored) I just re read this and I sound like a dick ;) Oh wait…I like your attitude. See what others can do.  I would do the same. If you ever come up with a plan let me know SC.com/seancoleman