This week’s Q&A is with Henrik Lenberg, the Vice President of Platform for SoundCloud. With over 20 million users, SoundCloud is the world’s leading social sound platform where anyone can create sounds and share them everywhere. Henrik spoke with us about the company’s origin and how the platform is being used by content creators all around the world.
What is SoundCloud and why was it created?
SoundCloud is the world’s leading social sound platform that lets anyone create, record, promote and share their sounds on the web in a simple, accessible and feature-rich way. SoundCloud allows sound creators to instantly record or upload original audio content, embed sound across blogs and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, share publicly and privately, receive detailed analytics, plus get feedback from the community directly onto the waveform.
SoundCloud was born out of the frustration experienced by Alexander Ljung (founder & CEO) and Eric Wahflorss (founder & CTO) that there were no tools available at the time for creators to easily share (publicly or privately) audio content and be able to receive real time feedback and comments. That issue combined with both co-founders being hugely influenced by the social web created an intersection that allowed them to think about sound as a solid, broader platform. Sound is such a social medium offline and SoundCloud is focused on translating that same social, human experience online.
The video “Sound” is about why sound is important in our lives. It features perspectives and memories from well-known artists like Moby, Imogen Heap, and other influential sonic artists. Talk about why and how you created this project.
“Sound” was created by SoundCloud’s Brand Communication team to capture viewpoints from people who have dedicated their lives to sound. The video was intended to make us all stop and think about the importance of sound in our lives, which, like sound on the web, is often ignored and underrepresented. It also expresses SoundCloud’s dedication to the breadth of sound in the world – not only music, but many other types of audio – and to reinforce our role as the world’s leading social sound platform. Finally, it was fascinating to hear about sound from the performers, thinkers, and creators involved.
Journalists are already using SoundCloud to record and share interviews. Is the platform being used by filmmakers? Video editors? If so, how?
We hear stories that SoundCloud is frequently used by movie sound editors and composers for privately sharing work in progress. We’ve also seen some public previews of film sound, for instance Hans Zimmer’s work on The Dark Knight Rises.
SoundCloud has created partnerships with more than 200 app developers including Avid. Talk a little about how the Avid Pro Tools app came about and its key features.
Along with SoundCloud becoming the place for audio creators to share their work, we’ve built partnerships with the leading software tools for audio creation. The core idea is to make it easy to share your work directly from the application, and this is the feature that’s been added to Pro Tools. Users can bounce their arrangement or individual audio files and have them uploaded to SoundCloud in the background – making the process of sharing work for feedback or promotion even simpler.
What are the biggest concerns about the Cloud that you’ve heard from the professional content creation community?
Oftentimes professionals are concerned that by leveraging a platform like SoundCloud to spread their content throughout the web, it will reduce traffic or the relevance of their own website. However, we’ve found that by allowing content to be heard everywhere it actually builds brand recognition and increases a creator’s audience. For example, embedding a piece of engaging audio on Facebook is likely to draw many clickbacks to a creator’s website, vs. simply posting a link to the story.
Video producers of high profile projects might be interested in using your audio platform as part of their workflow, but may need security guarantees. How does SoundCloud protect uploaded content from unauthorized access?
SoundCloud uses standard practices for web security.
What question(s) do you have for content creators and specifically video editors?
SoundCloud welcomes all types of content creators, which includes video editors, to use the platform in the way they want. We’re always open to hearing feedback from our community members and welcome any questions or comments that they might have for us.
Are there any new features that you can talk about in the pipeline for SoundCloud that could benefit video creators?
We have a lot of exciting announcements in our pipeline that I can’t openly discuss yet, but at SoundCloud we would like your sound experience to be completely seamless – our vision is very much being able to carry your sound with you everywhere. Back in May, we released – uncomfortably early – our private beta of Next SoundCloud, which is a complete redesign of our web app that will provide our community with a simpler, faster, and more social experience. We’re working with our community on their feedback and continuing to tweak it.
What are your biggest challenges and opportunities moving forward?
To continue scaling the company and make the product better and better. We’ll keep a tight focus on the core experience and make sure it’s optimized.
Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to mention?
The ability to share sounds gives people a reason to record. Sharing sounds is as easy as hitting record, stop, and share on your smartphone. Sharing sounds on a social platform brings enormous value for sound creators. Our aim is to bring sound sharing and social elements closer to where the sound creation happens, and we hope this will make it easier and more valuable for people to create and share sounds.