Posts from Music

SoundCloud Home

Our portfolio company SoundCloud, which makes one of the most popular apps in the world, is launching a new Home experience in it’s mobile apps today.

SoundCloud is the first place musicians post their music and it is the first place listeners discover new artists.

In the past, listeners had to use a feed experience (like Twitter) to discover new artists and new music. This experience works well for power users who take the time to curate a following list. But it doesn’t work great for most users.

So SoundCloud is launching a new Home experience today which moves the feed to a second tab and replaces with a curated and personalized experience for users.

Here is what the new Home looks like:

 

If you have the mobile app, you should get pushed an update today or tomorrow with the new Home experience

It is also available on the web at https://soundcloud.com/discover.

If you want to stay current on the latest in up and coming new artists, SoundCloud is the place to do that and it just got a lot better at doing that for you.

SoundCloud

I have spent much of the last four months working on this and was up most of the night last night finishing it, so I don’t have a lot of gas in the tank today.

But I do plan to write about all of this at some point, maybe soon, maybe not so soon.

It has been one of the most interesting and challenging projects I’ve worked on in my entire career.

And it could not have been for a better cause.

Go SoundCloud Go

Our portfolio company SoundCloud introduced a new subscription offering yesterday called SoundCloud Go which complements its existing subscription offering called Go+. Combined with the longstanding free service, SoundCloud now has an elegant set of offerings for its users:

SoundCloud is fundamentally different than other streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Tidal, Napster and Deezer because it has always allowed anyone to upload their music to its platform (UGC content). About this time last year, SoundCloud added all of the music that these other streaming services have and launched its premium offering (Go+).

You can see the numbers in the above chart. The premium content that Spotify, Apple Music, etc offer is about 30mm tracks. The UGC content that is only available on SoundCloud is another ~120mm tracks.

The UGC content on SoundCloud is not just your daughter’s high school friends making music in their bedroom (which is how many of the current top artists started out). It is DJ mixes, mixtapes, remixes, top artists like Kanye dropping music quickly and easily (which he did yesterday), emerging artists like Chance who are unsigned and have chosen to stay independent, podcasts, and a lot more. It is the most eclectic, interesting, and vibrant streaming music service in the world.

And so if you have always loved SoundCloud for the UGC content, but want it with no ads and offline sync, get SoundCloud Go. Its available here.

And here’s some “UGC” content to start your morning off with, courtesy of Lil Uzi Vert:

Shout Out To SoundCloud

At the Grammy’s last night, Chance The Rapper, one of the night’s big winners, gave props to SoundCloud in his acceptance speech for Best Rap Album:

Chance talked about the importance of artists staying independent and his shoutout to SoundCloud was a well deserved acknowledgement of the power of platforms like SoundCloud in helping artists get discovered independently of the traditional music system and staying there.

Here’s the Best Rap Album of 2016, in case you missed it.

And if you didn’t know, SoundCloud is a USV portfolio company.

Hacking Amazon Echo

My friend Stephen and I have been talking about hacking the Amazon Echo so it can be a front end to our Sonos systems. Stephen decided to make it more than talk and downloaded some code on Github and stitched together a system that works. I was at his house yesterday evening and he showed it to me. Here’s a blurry video taken from a phone that shows it in action.

Stephen’s system uses the cloud based Skills interface to parse the commands, then sends instructions to some of that Github code running on Amazon’s Lamba cloud based code execution service, which then sends instructions to a local server on Stephen’s laptop that runs the code that controls the Sonos locally on his home network. It’s a kludge for sure, but it works and I am going to get this hack working on my Sonos system over the next few weeks.

But the whole experience got me thinking about hacking the Echo to do other things. The possibilities are endless.

Here’s an idea for some enterprising engineer out there. We own some bungalows in Venice that are rented out on Airbnb and VRBO. We have a Sonos Play in each of them. And we have a Google Doc that has frequently asked questions on it hanging in the kitchen of each bungalow. What if there was an app for Amazon Echo that could take in that Google Doc, parse the frequently asked questions and answers, and train Alexa (the voice command interface in Amazon Echo) to answer the frequently asked questions. That would get me to swap out the Sonos Plays in each bungalow for Amazon Echos. And Airbnb could promote that app to all of its hosts.

Anyway, there are all sorts of things that would be fun to make by hacking Echo. And I suspect they will. These voice based devices could be the next big platform for developers to make things on.

The Online Club

I recall reading a history of The Beatles and as it is told, they developed their performance skills playing in rock clubs in Hamburg Germany in the early 60s. They played night after night and developed a style and technique that formed the essence of the band for the next decade.

I thought of that today when I read a NY Times piece on our portfolio company YouNow.

My long time friend Steve Greenberg, a thirty year veteran of the music industry, is quoted in the piece talking about one of his young developing stars who performs on YouNow:

In the old days, an artist would have to find some club to get good about relating to an audience. With YouNow she can just go online and play, whether it’s for hundreds or thousands of people, and get real-time feedback.

What used to require moving to Hamburg and playing clubs every night can now be done in the comfort of a teenager’s bedroom, it seems.

Feature Friday: Voice Interface For Music

We finally got an Amazon Echo in our home a few weeks ago. We have had one at USV for quite some time and have had fun hacking around on it. But I really wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen when we got one at home.

We have Sonos in our homes. I often joke that I have more Sonos devices than any other person. It may be true.

But since we’ve been able to just call out the music we want to listen to and get it, I have been using the Amazon Echo a lot more and the Sonos a lot less. And we only have Echo in one room whereas we have Sonos throughout our house, connected up through in wall/ceiling speakers. I wrote that convenience trumps quality many years ago, and I am reminded again how true that is.

The other night we were at the dinner table in the kitchen hanging out and chatting after dinner and there was no music on in the kitchen where we have Sonos. I desperately wanted to call out some music but obviously could not. I could have gotten up and gotten my phone and put some music on via the Sonos app. But I didn’t. That got my attention.

We’ve already had this on our phones (Google Now and Siri) but there is something about having this on your home audio system that is really sweet. I suspect many of us will be calling the music we want to hear using voice commands in the coming years.

If you haven’t seen the Amazon Echo playing music, here’s a short video of made of the experience just now.