When it comes to getting your music heard in today’s industry, the power of Soundcloud can’t be underestimated.

There’s a whole new wave of artists who found success off the back of exposure on the platform, and there’s a whole range of channels on the hunt for the latest sounds to share.

In this article we’re going to take an in depth look at the world of Soundclound promotion – what are the rules, how you can make your music stand out, and some tips to help make your music go further.

Is there a Soundcloud algorithm?

While we imagine it’s nowhere near as complicated as a platform such as YouTube’s, Soundcloud does use an internal algorithm to help determine the popularity of tracks and also make the results to users queries more relevant.

There’s no clear guidelines given by Soundcloud on how it ranks songs but there are snippets from around the web where we can see mentions of the ‘Discorank’ algorithm. From our (basic) understanding of how this works it seems to share a lot of similarities with Google’s pagerank algorithm.

It’s worth noting a lot of the information on this algorithm is a few years old now and it seems as if things are being kept a bit more secretive recently.

For those of you that really want to get an understanding of Discorank you can see a talk by Amelie Anglade from a few years back giving an overview of the process below. Be warned it’s very technical!

And if you’re interested you can also see the slides of the presentation shared here:

Discorank is also likely to play a huge part in ranking factors of two of the most important Soundcloud features that have come out over the previous years – Charts and Related Tracks.

Charts

The charts feature on soundcloud highlights the tracks that are getting a lot of exposure and significant buzz on soundcloud that week. If you’re looking to get onto the charts for your particular genre there’s a couple of things you can do, to quote soundcloud’s own advice:

“If you are a creator and you’re keen to get your track trending, we recommend genuine interactions with your followers, and promotion of the track soon after you’ve uploaded it to increase your chances. It also helps to have the track tagged correctly with the genre you want it to appear in. The first tag should be the main genre, ideally taken from the list of genres shown in the charts.”

Related tracks & Discover

The Related tracks and Discover functions help users find similar tracks they may be interested in based on their interests and previous interactions

Tracks here are selected using an algorithm that gives recommendations from a network of interactions on the platform. This can be a few different actions – e.g. a user liking a track, a user following another user, a track is reposted by someone in your network etc.

Interaction is Key

With both of the above areas it’s obvious that interaction on the network is key. Get involved with your audience and other artists and add value to the platform. In doing so you’ll be increasing your chances of getting featured in the charts and under the suggested tracks.

Maximizing Your Song’s Potential

So now we have a bit of an understanding about how Soundcloud ranks songs, let take a loot at some of the things you can be doing to use this algorithm to your advantage

Quality – this should go without saying, but the quality of your music is a major determining factor as to how well a song performs. We’re going to assume you’re only putting out the very best work and investing time into promoting these tracks.

Track title – we recommend you follow the general format of “Artist Name – Track Title”

Meta data – the right metadata can make your track easier for Soundcloud to understand and categorise. See this post on metadata.

Genre – make sure you correctly categorize the genre of your tracks.If you’re trying to get into the charts tagging with the right genre is essential. The first genre you tag with is often the most important – so make sure this matches with one of the main audio categories in the charts. You can also tag your tracks with additional subgenres. Just don’t go crazy.

Time dependence – in terms of the discover tab, this is weighted towards more recent tracks. You’ve only got a small window to make the most of exposure in these areas. So make sure you maximise your promotional efforts as soon as your post starts to go live.

Design – Good design can help you stand out and give your tracks a more professional image. Head to sites like Fiverr to get some cost effective design work done, or consider using a tool such as Canva if you want to give it a go yourself.  

On platform factors – all the interactions people take with your tracks on Spotify get taken into account – likes, comments, plays and general interaction are all factors that can help you rank better.

External factors – this is one that many people are less likely to be aware of, but external factors are also taken into account when deciding how much exposure your track gets. Getting links to your track from high quality sites / blogs, as well as the number of shares on social platforms can help give your track a boost across Soundcloud.  

So now you know how to upload your track in the right way, let’s take a look at some of the tactics that are commonly used to promote across soundcloud.

Promotional tactics

Cross promotion

Not only does cross promotion on other platforms help in terms of the discorank algorithm mentioned above, it’s also a great way of increasing plays and maximising exposure.

Use your other social networks to promote your track and encourage your followers to like and repost. If you have your own website you can also consider embedding the soundcloud widget to provide links back to your tracks.

Repost chains

A lot of channels will partake in a process of ‘repost trades’ or ‘repost chains’ in order to increase exposure. This only tends to happen between channels with similar follower numbers, so don’t expect to be able to negotiate a repost trade with a channel that has 100k followers if you only have 1000.

First on Soundcloud

While the ‘First on Soundcloud’ project does heavily focus on the featured artists, everyone can be considered for inclusion in this list. To quote directly from Soundcloud:

“First On SoundCloud” playlist: Creators uploading their latest tracks to Soundcloud with the tag #SCFIRST will be considered for inclusion in the “First On Soundcloud” playlist on SoundCloud’s homescreen, giving them global exposure to new fans, plays, likes and follows.

In addition to this, Soundcloud will also be looking for tracks that shared on twitter using this hashtag and randomly selecting ones to promote.

Consider offering free downloads

Offering free downloads of your tracks can make your music more shareable and increase exposure, however, this can be a double edged sword.

Giving your track away means that it can be listened to and shared outside of the Soundcloud platform, and none of these listens or views will contribute to your presence on Soundcloud.

Remix competitions

Entering remix competitions is a great way to build exposure as an artist. There’s plenty of examples of artists who have used remixes as a way to build an audience – take Gryffin for example who’s built a huge following on the back of his remixes alone.

Keep an eye out for remixes in your genre and give them a shot. Also take a look at Soundcloud’s best practices for remix competitions.

Use the links in your profile

In the same way you want to use your other social profiles to promote your Soundcloud one, you want to use the links on your profile to point to other platforms people can follow you on.

Your loyal fans are going to want to be able to keep up to date with you across multiple platforms, so make it easy for them 🙂

Look at the analytics

Keep an eye on your stats to understand your audience – take a look at your stats page to see how your tracks performs in terms of plays, likes, reposts and comments.

If you’re a Pro user you also get access to Pro Stats which provides you with deeper insight into where your plays are coming from as well as details on which 3rd party apps are playing your tracks.

These insight can be especially useful when it comes to finding blogs or influencers who have been promoting your tracks.

Spotlight on the paid plan

If you’re a Pro user you also have access to a feature called spotlight, which allows you to pin tracks to the top of your profile.

This is especially useful if you like to repost a lot of tracks from other artists and don’t necessarily want these tracks to be the first thing users see when they visit your profile.

Here’s a Youtube video that gives you a better idea of the benefits of the Spotlight feature.

Get Involved – Comment, follow, interact

It’s rare that an artist makes it on their own. Success is usually a combination of factors – and networking is a major one.

The best thing you can do for your music is get involved in the community surrounding your genre. Comment on other artists tracks, share music you like and generally add value.

Interaction in the community doesn’t mean spamming other channels with comments like ‘wow’ or ‘tune’. It means adding genuine value.

A good question to ask yourself before doing anything is ‘would I do this if wasn’t going to benefit me in any way?’.

Create playlists

Playlists can be a great way of sharing the music you love with your audience. They can also be a great way of helping you build relationships.

They can also be found when people search for genres, as well as having the chance to get featured on the homepage if your playlist gets popular.

If you have a collection of songs you love in a particular genre, or a set list that you love to play, why not create a playlist and share it with your audience.

Consistency

Even the best channels will fade away without consistency.

It can be hard at first when the results aren’t immediately obvious, but consistency in your activity on Soundcloud is one of the best habits you can build.

Paid Services

There’s no doubt about it – the music industry is competitive.

Building an audience and standing out from the crowd can at times seem like an insurmountable task.

This is why paid promotion can be so attractive – it makes getting followers easy and is seen as a shortcut to success.

If you take a look at a lot of these services they offer what seems like great value for money.

For as little as $5 you can be getting your track reposted to thousands of followers, thousands of plays, hundreds of likes and comments posted on your track.

Disclaimer – we haven’t used these services so our thoughts below are based on logical assumptions vs experience. We’re planning to do a review of these services in future so make sure you subscribe for updates.

These offers seem like a great deal but realistically anyone who can guarantee these end metrics is likely using bot software / fake profiles or some other form of trickery to do so.

It would be extremely difficult to guarantee these results through natural promotional activities for these prices.

If you’re buying cheap likes, the only reason to do so is for vanity metrics.

These likes aren’t going to be fans, they’re not going to listen again, or share your other tracks.

There’s no snowball effect that comes from these followers – you are simply buying metrics.

The rules around promoting your music on Soundcloud with promotion services.

If you take a look at some of the rules surrounding music promotion according to Soundcloud – it’s very clear that paid promotion is against the T’s & C’s.

A couple of quick articles to look at are this one on using promotional services and this one on charging for promotional services.

These both clearly state that Soundcloud’s official stance is that both of these actions are against the Terms of Service.

This is obviously a massive risk to take, especially if you are serious about making this your livelihood, so it’s up to you to consider if you how you approach these rules.

At the end of the day, it’s your call.

Influencers and Channels / Networks

In a similar vein to our article on Youtube promotion, reaching out to influencers and networks on Soundcloud can be an effective way of getting your music played to a whole new audience.

These channels or “networks” don’t necessarily produce music themselves, they instead curate and present the latest and best sounds in their genres.

An example of a channel doing this is Trap Nation:

These are the channels that simply share tracks they like, or tracks they release on their label.

Sometimes this can be one channel, other times it can be a ‘network’ of channels that specialise in a different genre.

Just like on Youtube, reaching out to these channels on Soundcloud has the possibility for your music to get shared. However we do tend to notice a key difference…

Influencers aren’t as prominent on Soundcloud.

On Soundcloud we notice that influencers don’t seem to have audience sizes anywhere near the level they do on YouTube.

There’s a few reasons why this may be the case:

  1. With Youtube the influencers have control over the track upload and it becomes a piece of content on its own – allowing the channels to rank for that track name. On Soundcloud this won’t happen as easily as channels tend towards doing a repost as opposed to actually  uploading the artists track.
  2. Lack of monetisation – Soundcloud doesn’t offer the same monetisation options that Youtube does, removing a major incentive for growing an audience.
  3. The platform doesn’t lend itself to influencers in the same way that Youtube does – tracks can be played without visiting the channel – and Soundcloud don’t push channel subscription like Youtube does (heavy calls to action, big subscription buttons) which makes things less productive for influencers. .

There are still benefits to be had from reaching out to these channels on Soundcloud, however you may find you don’t get the same return on investment from your time.

Wrapping up

So there we have an in depth look at some of the different ways you can promote your music on Soundcloud. We’ll be looking to dive into more detail in future posts, so make sure you stay subscribed to our email list to get updates sent straight to your inbox.

If you have any tips or techniques you think should be included here let us know, as we will be keeping this post continually updated.