Syndication Update: SoundCloud


Remember our post about Addie Nascimento (ODDI’s Syndication Project Lead) and her efforts to syndicate to everyone, everywhere, on every platform?  Yep, it’s happening.  Wanting to hear more specifically about SoundCloud, I hit up Addie again.  She was happy to explain everything in detail—even though she was concurrently battling a bad cold and had been kept awake at night for a few days by a rogue raccoon that had taken up residency on her roof.  True story!

Startups: Alex Ljung of SoundCloud [Video from YouTube user ThisWeekIn]

Ready to Rock

SoundCloud has been incredibly receptive to BBG’s needs and wants… meaning that a cooperative technology agreement has been reached according to Nascimento, “making sharing media through social media easier”.  Benefits from a mutual agreement between the BBG and SoundCloud include things like an increased audience base for both parties as well as an easy way to share content across Facebook (in fact you can sign up for SoundCloud using your Facebook account).

Early estimates suggest to Nascimento that this mutual agreement has the potential to bring in upwards of 100,000+ more plays per year.  By utilizing SoundCloud’s built-in audience and their metrics tools, BBG entities can easily expand and measure their programming’s reach.


How the Software Works

Maybe you’re thinking that this all sounds great, but have no clue how exactly a BBG-SoundCloud-Facebook interface would work.  Nascimento says it’s as easy as taking a broadcast feed (RSS) or podcast feed, ingesting the files into SoundCloud (they provide storage for the files), connecting the SoundCloud account to your Facebook account, and then checking back in on metrics on your SoundCloud admin page.

VOA’s Urdu Service, Indonesian Service, and Khmer Service are using SoundCloud in a pilot project.  These uploads can take place daily, weekly, or biweekly—but they must be done manually—but once they are uploaded, all content plays automatically and functions like a radio station.  Their staff uploads content to SoundCloud manually pushing metadata-rich podcast feeds (VOA’s Urdu, Indonesian, and ___ are already doing this) to the SoundCloud server.  There are upcoming changes that will allow this process to happen automatically. However, their users are accessing the content through SoundCloud’s main website, through a Play Store app, through an iTunes Store app, as well as directly on Facebook.

Nascimento and her team hope that there will be some live streaming events broadcast via SoundCloud by the end of summer in 2013.  “This will open a lot of doors with the addition of 24-hour streaming media,” she adds.  “But there’s a difference between streaming and downloading,” Nascimento continues, “the streaming experience is great for online radio experience where you can pick up on the conversation mid-event, but the drawback is that it requires a constant Internet connection or mobile device with wifi—which is not always possible.”


Example of how others are using SoundCloud+Facebook [Demo by YouTube user Keith Everett]


As With Other Digital Tools, Keep Your Audience In Mind

To prepare content specifically for use in SoundCloud, Nascimento suggests that producers “start thinking about their content in general and the advantages of this tool—what kind of package will do well on this platform? What do we already have? What can we create?”  This may require individual file programming to be done, where staff will need to manually post content and then encourage their audience to check out each update on Facebook.

Nascimento knows BBG staff doesn’t have time to mess with lots of new tasks each day.  “We only have so many hours, yet so many things to do—so if you don’t have time for custom content, just post a question or comment on your own SoundCloud posts on Facebook. Ask your audience to add their comment, and always mention it in your programming.”

These things may sound simple, but Nascimento encourages staff to remember that “the products you’re creating are strategically important and should be 100% about engagement”.  For example, perhaps producers can use SoundCloud as an extension for audiences to hear more of an interview, broadcast, or event that was not broadcast on air.  Or, perhaps an entire interview can be conducted with a popular guest and the content is available only through Facebook in order to drive more traffic.  Regardless, think of SoundCloud as a bulletin board and think about what issues your audience is considering important in their localized livelihoods and interests.


For Success, Nascimento Says Remember To…

1)   Get the basics down. Be sure that you have clean metadata. You always need unique titles and descriptions for your media files. Make this a common practice. This will help your content perform better in search engines. This will also help identify one program from another; users will look for a person’s name or topic of which they are interested. Label files so people can find them based off what they are likely to be looking for.  You can’t do number two and three in this list without doing number one.  Users will look through your content and know that you are engaged because you’ve labeled it clearly for them.  She compares having a great digital space to being an awesome party host: make everything look clean and inviting, lay out your best food (content) and have the best entertainment (visuals) so they’ll come back for more. “You are much more likely to eat the food when it looks good and you know what it is than take your chance on ‘mystery meat.’”

2)   Engage your audience: What does this look like?  Make content short and consumable. Clearly labeled, engaging and enticing. Ask for their opinion.  People want to share their ideas, be heard and feel valued. They also want to know what real people think: their peers, their community and people around the world.  SoundCloud can also provide new audiences where content producers are not currently seeing much.  Nascimento hopes content will get more plays and more engagement by leveraging new ways to engage the audience where they already are.  And, remember to talk back when people comment on content.  Think about it: aren’t you more likely to make a comment where you know you’ll get a comment back?

3)   Create specific content:  If you are ready for the challenge, create content specifically for use on this platform. Consider the unique experience to tying broadcast audio or web-only audio with a social media venue. What kind of content would my Facebook audience be interested in? What kind of content would the SoundCloud community be interested in? Again, clear metadata and active engagement are your keys to success.


For more info:


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(Thank you to Addie Nascimento for her contributions to this post.  To contact her: addien at bbg dot gov [or] @addien)

(The foregoing commentary does not constitute endorsement by the US Government, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA, MBN, OCB, RFA, or RFE/RL of the information products or services discussed.)


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April Deibert

April Deibert

April Deibert is the Multimedia Blogger/Producer for the Office of Digital & Design Innovation. Follow her on Twitter: @BBGinnovate and @AprilDeibert.

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