A few weeks ago I read about SoundCloud starting its takedown campaign on a massive scale, targeting both casual users and big name acts alike (Knife Party being one of them). I’ve had a few takedowns in the past due to some remixes and mixtapes that I’ve made in the five years that I’ve been on the music sharing platform, so I didn’t think much of it because I just assumed it was business as usual. Big mistake…
I got a text message from a promoter just a single day after I read about the takedown campaign.
“I have a client wants to hear your remix but they can’t access your SoundCloud. Where else can we check it out?”
I expected the worst, and I was right: My account had been deleted along with all the music I uploaded for the last half decade! It really couldn’t have come at a worse time (is there ever a good time?), because I was about to start promoting my EP of all-original music which was going to rely heavily on using SoundCloud as my playback and social hub, and instead I was left with nothing.
So I contacted support and they told me that they have a “three strikes and you’re out” rule regarding takedowns. Sadly, I wasn’t aware of that until my account was removed, since takedowns in the past didn’t lead to obvious penalties other than your music disappearing from your profile.
So in order that you might save yourself from all the trouble I went through and learn from my mistakes, here is my advice to anyone who wasnts to carry on using SoundCloud:
- Don’t upload edits, mixtapes or remixes to SoundCloud – I know this is obvious, but this wasn’t necessarily the case when I renewed my pro account last year. SoundCloud is now quite strict about it, and is becoming more of a repository for original material by musicians instead of a community of DJs and a bastion of remix culture, so if you plan on uploading content that has music that you didn’t compose yourself, look elsewhere
- Don’t ignore your past uploads – If you’ve been on SoundCloud for a couple of years, you’ll want to go through your back catalogue of tracks to make sure that there aren’t any songs there that aren’t yours. They could potentially be flagged down the road, and the last thing that you want is your account being deleted for some mix you made half a decade ago
- Make sure you back up your music files – Cloud storage is what’s popular today, but don’t think that having your files uploaded means that they’re safe from being deleted. I had a couple of tracks on my profile from when I first signed up to the service that I never saved copies of, and you bet I’m kicking myself right now for not taking the time to collect them all in an external hard drive. For an easy way to pull all your SoundCloud mixtapes (but not individual tracks), Mixcloud just introduced a new feature called SoundCloud Importer
- Don’t put all your eggs in one social basket – I had a mixed bag of talk show podcasts, originals, and remixes on my account, and all of them were gone in an instant, along with any semblance of authority on the platform or popularity for any of my tracks. Sure, I could make another SoundCloud account, but how can I get back five years’-worth of plays, comments, and community involvement? Our recommendation is to use a variety of social platforms that are suited to your content: Use Mixcloud for mixtapes, use Buzzsprout for your podcasts, etc. That way, you aren’t defined by any one service that could potentially ruin your career if it disappears. Better, have your own site…
- Gather email addresses as a priority – This is a biggie. No matter if your SoundCloud profile gets deleted or your Facebook and Twitter accounts get hacked; if you’ve got an e-mail list of all of your fans that you constantly update and grow, you’re pretty much covered for whatever social media setback gets thrown your way. As more and more online platforms get introduced, the only thing constant on the internet since the early 90s has been e-mail. Your online profiles and your blog could die, but email won’t, at least not for the foreseeable future!
The biggest takeaway here is that you’re ultimately responsible for whatever you upload to your social media accounts. I can rant all I want about how “unfair” these takedowns were, or about how SoundCloud is at the fore of remix culture and that its refusal to lead it is a missed opportunity for moving the needle forward for copyright laws, but at the end of the day I should’ve just paid closer attention to the music that I had on my SoundCloud profile, as well as the changes in policies that the service had undertaken and duly complied.
Trust me, folks: It’s not worth risking your time, money, and music if you’re just going to end up losing all of that in the end because of a basic oversight.
How have you been affected by the SoundCloud takedowns? Where do you host your music now? Please share with the rest of us in the comments below.