I met Alex Ljung, founder/CEO of SoundCloud a number of times and each time he pitched me on his business. Each time I said no. Then in the summer of last year, we met at Soho House London and he showed me one slide. It had various media types (photos, videos, long form text, short form text) and underneath each was a large social platform that had been built on and for that media type. At the end was an empty space and it said "sound". That is Alex' vision. To build that large social platform to share sounds. That's what sold me. One slide. This 3min video expresses it well.

"Sound" from SoundCloud on Vimeo.


#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Jasonpwright

    So there would be no IP or copyright issues restraining the construction of a library of downloadable sounds, unlike the music industry? Getting to the starting line in zero cost investment proposition. 

    1. fredwilson

      if i’m walking down the street and take out my phone and record the construction noise via the soundcloud app, i’m pretty sure there aren’t going to be any IP issues with that

      1. Jasonpwright

        Exactly. No rights holder knocking at the door wanting their royalty.

      2. Jasonpwright

        I wonder if the law will evolve the definition of ‘artistic work’, and if the a piece of construction equipment will be redefined as a musical instrument? Hopefully not ūüôā

      3. William Mougayar

        There is an iPhone app I once tried that records sounds around you as you walk down the street for eg, then when you play it back, it breaks the parts up after shuffling them. The results are hillarious.

      4. leigh

        foursquare + soundcloud ūüôā

        1. William Mougayar

          It sounds square ūüôā

          1. leigh

            sound square …

        2. fredwilson

          You can do foursquare checkins from soundclouds mobile appsI do that a lot

          1. leigh

            be interesting to create soundscapes for specific spaces/places – even related to elevation (think roads going up and going down) fun…..

          2. fredwilson

            yes, exactlyi also like to capture the music that is playing in the cafes i frequent

    2. Jasonpwright

      How do I edit my grammar errors on this forum?! ūüôā

      1. William Mougayar

        You don’t see an Edit to the left of Reply under your comments? Just edit and Save.

        1. Jasonpwright

          William, no I only have “Like” to the left of “Reply”. There’s no “Edit” to be seen. Thanks.

          1. William Mougayar

            On browser or mobile? If you can, send a screen shot to [email protected]

          2. jason wright

            I think I have it now. Thanks ūüôā

          3. William Mougayar

            Great. What was the issue?

      2. ShanaC

        are you registered?

        1. Jasonpwright


          1. ShanaC


          2. jason wright

            I’ll check it. Thanks ūüôā

      3. Donna Brewington White

        Yours or someone else’s?

  2. Jasonpwright

    I wonder if there’s an interesting way to combine this idea with Siri technology? ¬†

  3. Robert Thuston

    Fred, you dig the artistic.It reminds me of a friend who is a corporate lawyer with a clean cut image and attire but is completely passionate about indie/folk music, hipster friends, and bohemian restaurants. ¬†We were coming back from some bars in Seattle and he was on a tangent about how awesome all these things are… and concluded with… “I understand you hipster…” ¬†we quoted the phrase for the rest of the weekend…I think you have the “I understand you artists…” thing going on. ¬†I dig it.

    1. fredwilson

      What would life be without art

      1. Guest

        Art is science made clear.–Jean Cocteau.

        1. fredwilson

          yeah, i love that

  4. Jasonpwright

    …and of course sounds are a kind of language, but not a defining one that limits scaleability to any particular ¬†human population group language.Using Siri tech one could search for data through a sound input captured on an iphone.¬†

  5. Darren Herman

    “Sound is kinda like a color you can hear.” ¬†– videoI absolutely love that quote.

    1. fredwilson

      Me too

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I like that too, but I think of it as more of an image that you can hear. ¬†Opens up a lot of possibilities: sound “collages” — sound “paintings” and so on…I guess the mobile apps are like sound “photos”

  6. Guest

    Nice video. ¬†I watched it twice, once only listening to the sound. ¬†Not seeing the video was more powerful to me. ¬†In the end when they are displaying the names visually, it would have been cool to hear the individual voices saying their names instead of showing a graphic. I almost felt watching the video had the same effect of adding pictures to a good book… it put limits on my imagination. ¬† ¬†

    1. fredwilson

      Great points

  7. Todd Schnick

    fascinating video. thanks for sharing that…

  8. JLM

    This is really all about “senses” of which sound is just one. ¬†Harnessing the senses is an element of marketing. ¬†Arnold, get in here. ¬†Engage, Arnold! ¬†Haha.If you think about it, most physical businesses are a platform of senses in which a product is presented — a nice¬†palette¬†of appropriately emotional colors, comfortable temperature, flattering lighting, a good smell, pleasing presentation, an invitation to engage through touch a nice tune or sound in the background.Colors which excite or calm.A temperature which invites respite from the outdoors, comfort and a reason to stick around.Lighting which makes you and the product look good together. ¬†[Soft incandescent v harsh¬†fluorescent¬†or mercury vapor.]A good smell which leaves the customer in a positive mood inclined to do positive things — like buy the product. ¬†[Gym clothes v lilacs.]A sound that is soothing — waterfalls, water moving, ocean.I use scent machines in my business units to set an initial tone when customers walk in.Your nose stops smelling after about 5 minutes but for the first 5 minutes a floral smell or a pine smell or cookies, citrus (grapefruit is the best). ¬†It works.What is being done here is going down the sensory continuum.Can you digitize scent?OK, I left the welcoming glass of wine for Arnold.

    1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      My wife and I visit a local casino from time to time. ¬†They have a great steakhouse and good entertainment.One time at home while preparing for bed I smelled the casino smell…..My wife had used their lotion and I have no idea what her plans for the evening were but I do know from that moment on all I wanted was Kobe Steak and Lobster Bisque! ¬†:)One of the most disappointing aspects of Christmas shopping at the local mall is that they no longer pump the mall with christmas scents.The last great frontier; digitizing scent to create the emotionalism associated with a fragrance. ¬†Nothing stirs memory like a scent…..

      1. andyswan

        Damn right.  I think our mall still smells like Christmas, but will investigate further.  Might just be my wife.

        1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

          Well, this Christmas I am either shopping in Louisville or borrowing your wife for the day! ¬†:)Burning scented candles and playing christmas tunes while shopping on line just isn’t working!

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            @andyswan:disqus¬†Guys, you’re right.¬† There is a way to do this which I can go in to later but need your advice-Joy and me will be bumping up our run from Charleston, WV to my brother’s in Elizabethtown….which are the top 2 distillaries to stop by on the trail?BTW, they sure like toll roads in West Virginia…

          2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Dave, I have never been to any distilleries in Kentucky….Not a big alcohol guy….now if you want advice on “acid and ashrams” then I am you guy! ūüôā

    2. fredwilson

      digitizing scent is an interesting problemi’ve not seen any attempts to do it

      1. andyswan

        scratch and sniff is a good start

        1. Matt A. Myers

          My sarcasm detector seems to be malfunctioning?

      2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        In the 90’s one of my partners acquired a potpourri company and don’t ask me how or why….Then he proceeds to run off the founder and the national sales manager.So he calls me up knowing full well that I am a sucker for a challenge and way too curious for my own good. ¬†So I find myself in Memphis running a “squirrel food company” as I called it.I learned real fast that scent is tricky. ¬†We got a request from one of the major cruise lines to create a gift line for their on board stores and they wanted something that would “recreate” the cruise experience. ¬†So we created a great mix of botanicals and awesome packaging but the fragrance was a real tough one. ¬†What exactly does a cruise or an ocean smell like? ¬†Of course being a smart ass I say, “oil slicks and dead fish” but after hundreds of blends we ended up using a baby powder scent.It was a home run to say the least! ¬†Fragrances are not literal but rather sensual….just like colors.

        1. Aviah Laor

          smell is the only sense going directly to the brain without any transformation that otherwise happens in the eyes, ears etc. It’s actually an¬†extension¬†of the brain into the nose.That’s ¬†what makes it powerful, it throws you into memories and feelings in a nano second – but probably why we lack words and proper vocabulary to describe it.

          1. William Mougayar

            Smell lacks words?WoodsySpiceyFloralHerbalGreenLeatherTobaccoIt applies to perfumes & wines equally.

          2. Aviah Laor

            Interesting. Maybe these words describe the ¬†object, and not by the qualities of the sense?For vision we have colors.¬†You can say “red”, you don’t have to say “tomato”. Yet for smell you say “Woodsy”.Maybe spicey, which is more for taste? Green is a good word for smell.Come to think of it, smell is the one element we DONT miss in Farmville.

          3. William Mougayar

            Actually, these are standard ways to describe smell in wine & perfumes. But it takes a trained nose to recognize them. It’s not as obvious as seeing red or blue as a color. Smell is more difficult to detect because it is often intermixed eg woodsy & Spicey. In smell training, then you smell for eg a berry & then immediately after a wine or perfume that has berries in it & you can make the association because it’s fresh in your mind. Olfactory memory is not as good as visual memory, so you have to train yourself to recognize smells.

          4. Matt A. Myers

            Society isn’t very well versed in smell – sadly.¬†I think we’d dislike pollution a lot more if we were more aware of smells. I have other theories related to this as well.

          5. Aviah Laor

            thanks William. I never knew it.(replied here – there is no “reply” link on your smell training response)

          6. ShanaC

            Most really complex words associated with scent at some point comes from taste.  It tastes green as much as it smells green.

        2. JLM

          Baby powder is the answer to everything.

          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            One of life’s lessons is actually costing out a bag of potpourri! Buy the botanicals by the conex box from India, the oils by the 55 gallon drum and then you sell bags or boxes that weigh no more than a few ounces…But if you can get it right the margins were out of this world…even at wholesale (B2B). Get it wrong and you got conex boxes of mulch.

      3. ShanaC

        One of the issues is how we each perceive scent very differently.  In english, there are actually very few words for scents and scents alone (most are attached to food)

    3. Matt A. Myers

      Related: ¬†…”Synesthesia …¬†is a neurologically based condition in which¬†stimulation¬†of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.”

    4. William Mougayar

      You know the old real estate sales trick where they propagate the smell of vanilla as you walk into a open home’s kitchen so it reminds you of a homey feeling, and you say…yeah it smells like home. That works.¬†When I hear the TV without watching (from my home office), all I remember is the music in commercials. It catches your attention. They are getting really smart about it. Then after a while, I’m curious to know what product is behind this? That works.If one could digitize scent…wow. I’ve thought about it. Maybe a new kind of sensor that responds differently to bits of data. I don’t want to think of the effect of software bugs in it, lol….

    5. matthewdbenson

      I love the way that a comment stream on ‘sound’ transitioned into a comment stream on ‘smell’ part way through the discussion …

  9. andyswan

    Share your passion! ¬†Let everyone see it. All the time.It helped Fred see why an investment would probably work.¬†It will help potential customers understand why you will be the best to deal with.It will help your advocates describe you.¬†It will help talented people desire to work with you. ¬†BONUS: ¬†It will help your haters to hate you!Alex’s passion is “sound”.Mine is “empowering individuals”What’s yours?

    1. fredwilson

      empowering individuals to empower individuals

      1. andyswan

        You may have just created our next tagline.

        1. fredwilson

          that would be a wonderful thingi’m trying to help william create his next service and name it appropriately i love giving way more than taking

          1. William Mougayar


          2. fredwilson

            nothing wrong with a little tease

          3. William Mougayar

            Made me smile…of course…

    2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      Passion; live your life like a kid in a candy store! ¬†People will think you are crazy…yep, crazy like a fox!Have a staff meeting with all your employees and pull out your product, lay it on the conference table and then exclaim, “Is this AWESOME or what?!” ¬†Then go through and pinpoint every single thing about your product that makes it special.You would be shocked how many of your own staff, especially in customer service, human resources, accounting and finance, have absolutely no clue what it is that the company actually does.Passion is contagious so spread it around….I have a stereo in my office and from time to time I will play opera, like Maria Callas and then tell everyone that we need to capture the emotions of she sings in how we live our lives. ¬†At a meeting of retailers one young store owner informed me that he found the term “Livin’ Large” distasteful because his customers didn’t like to draw attention to their size. ¬†I looked at him and laughed, I mean you can dress someone who wears a 5X in black or in vertical stripes and they are still going to be HUGE! ¬†No sense in hiding the obvious! ¬†Yep, passion…..I tell people that if the internet can make nerds and geeks the new “cool” then my t shirts can make big and tall/plus size folks sexy!Its a revolution…a revolt against the mundane so wake up every morning wondering, “….and what HELL can I raise today!!!!”Its only a t shirt, its only lines of code….but both can be so much more with passion!

  10. EmilSt

    Beautiful video.The only art that we can not live without is music.”It would be truly surprising if sound where not capable of suggesting color, if colors could not give the idea of the melody, if sound and color where not adequate to express ideas”On Being Blue – The Seduction of Claude Debussy – Art of Noise

  11. aweissman

    This reminds me of the incredible Ted talk by Julian Treasure (yes, great name) about 5 Ways To Listen Better (see¬†….It’s also why the human microphone stuff going on right now is so fascinating.edit: looks like the link didnt work – here it is again:

    1. andyswan

      “Julian Treasure”. ¬†Wow. ¬†That’s superhero-in-disguise quality. ¬†I’m already a fan.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        “Andy Swan” has a nice ring to it too. ūüôā

    2. fredwilson

      just hit the +boxee button on my browser toolbar!

      1. kenberger

        me too. boxee got me a demo Box, which rocks! The add/watch later function alone gives me enough rich content to populate most of my TV viewing time. Time- and place-shifting at its finest. This feature is a killer product in itself just waiting for the masses to uptake.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          How does one go about acquiring a demo box?…..

          1. kenberger

            i do a lot of evangelism, guerrilla marketing, consulting, and also product reviews from time to time. the products are usually loans and i give them back.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            gotcha. cool.

  12. Dave Pinsen

    The emphasis on sound reminds me of a great description of the emergency airlock scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey that someone left on Youtube:I love the sounds in this scene. There’s that big metal clip he has to pull off to get to the buttons to arm the explosive bolts, which comes off with a satisfying click. Then the buttons themselves, not one or two but three – all nice and metallic with some heavy duty springs behind them. Then there’s the deep-voiced alarm that indicates the bolts are ready to be armed. You don’t hear an alarm like that every day! And then the final one that saysÔĽŅ some serious stuff is about to happen!

    1. JLM

      Not to get too weird on you — the sound of weapons, the precision with which they are loaded, jamming the clip home, cocking the first bullet, firing, reloading.This body of sound probably accounts for more fascination w/ the military than any patriotic impulse.I can “hear” a 9MM pistol’s action being worked, an M16 being locked and loaded, a bandolier of M60 machine gun ammo being dropped in and cocked like a symphony just before a vision of all Hell breaking loose.That instant before you cross the LD (line of departure) on an attack or rappel down a rope to a make new friends Meet Up.You really want something odd — watch a bunch of combat vets, particularly cannon cockers (artillerymen) standing on a parade ground listening to a gun salute fired w/ 155MM guns or 8″ guns — real guns — and the boom of the guns up close, the earth shaking, the sound of the actions being “snicked” and the smell of cordite drifting across the parade ground filling up your nostrils, burning your eyes and taking you back to an instant in time.They stand a little straighter, their jaws are clenched and a tear comes to their eye.Viagra may put a bit of wood in your pencil but that shit puts steel in your balls. ¬†Sorry.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Back in the early ’90s — maybe the summer of ’92 — I was on some range at Fort Dix chatting with two fellow Army Reservists. One was a grizzled old Korean War vet who had spent years in combat in some of the most brutal conditions imaginable. He talked about facing human wave attacks, in sub-zero weather, from the Chinese army, where only one in ten soldiers was armed (the ones behind would wait until the guy in front got killed and then pick up the rifle and keep coming).The other was a Gulf War vet who spent maybe a few hours in incredibly lopsided combat. Then there was me. I had volunteered for the Gulf War, but wasn’t called up to go. So (like you, I suspect, judging from when you served in the regular Army), I hadn’t served in combat.All of sudden a grenade exploded in the distance. Now, you, I’m sure, have heard what that sounds like, but for those who haven’t, it’s about a 100x louder than you might expect. Even though it’s a little grenade, it sounds like you might imagine a big bomb to sound. You feel the ground shake. So, this happens, and none of us expected it, so we all practically jump out of our skins.The Gulf War vet turns to the Korean War vet and says something about having a flashback to his combat experience. “How long were you in combat,” I asked, “a day?”. “Whether you’ve been in combat an hour or a year, it doesn’t matter,” he intoned. In truth, we all jumped because it was a loud, unexpected explosion which startled us. But the Gulf War vet was being a blowhard.

        1. walter sobchak

          “So (like you, I suspect, judging from when you served in the regular Army), I hadn’t served in combat.”Finally, someone other than me calling J El-ass Muncher on his BS.

        2. JLM

          I commanded D Co, 39th Cbt Eng Bn at Ft Dix about 20 years before your experiences there.  I probably built some of those same ranges you used.We were right on the northernmost road between Ft Dix and McGuire AFB.I spent many an afternoon shooting skeet at the Ft Dix Rod & Gun Club on that same road just past what was then the Post Stockade.I did not mean to imply that I had served w/ artillery units though I sure spent a lot of time around them as the cbt engineers often were tasked to build their firing positions because we had the heavy construction equipment to build them quickly.We would often build a field ammo dump to hold their ammo when they were firing as most of those ranges were originally built for infantry and other lighter weapons.Interestingly enough Dix/McGuire had an old Bomarc missile (ground to air missiles sited to defend NY harbor) site out at the end of Range Road which had a fire in the late 1960s and was wildly radioactive when I was there in the early 1970s.It was not realized until many years later how radioactive it really was.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Small world. I didn’t know about the Bomarc missiles there, but when I was a kid, in the early ’80s, I went to a summer camp on Sandy Hook, and we saw the Nike missiles there. I don’t think they’d been operational for years.

  13. Rohan

    ‘Sound is like color you hear.’and’There’s music in every sound.’Brilliant..The soundtrack in the credits is geat!

    1. Matt A. Myers…”…¬†is a neurologically based condition in which¬†stimulation¬†of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.”

  14. Brad

    Great video!When you upload songs, sounds, etc. are there any distribution restraints? Can people download and use?Would love to see that one slide….

    1. fredwilson

      when you upload a song, they fingerprint it and check it against the database of licensed music. if you are uploading an infringing track and you aren’t whitelisted as the creator of it, then it will be taken down.other than that, there are no restrictionsthe creator/uploader can allow downloads or not. it is their choice.

  15. Bruce Warila

    Sound creators have a ‘cognitive surplus’ problem, as anyone can make noise, record, upload and tag.¬† Sound seekers have a ‘quality’ filter, trust and a rights friction problem.¬† It’s going to be interesting to experience SoundCloud’s solutions over the next couple of years.

  16. Ben Apple

    It’s really inspiring to see passion in something so simple and it’s exhibited in this video. It really sells the idea of soundcloud and makes you believe in it, whereas if you were to just explain the idea of “sharing sounds”, it’d be hard to do it justice.

    1. fredwilson

      then the video worked

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Isn’t that the idea behind good marketing?And someone who “gets it” can put together much better marketing, and their product will resonate with it as well.

    3. Guest

      It was a good video, but to me it was like telling me that you have to come see this awesome train we’ve built that will revolutionize travel, but then sending me a plane ticket to come check it out. ¬†

      1. Roham

        LOL. I agree but even in that case – what if the train is revolutionary for short distances but you’re flying from the other side of the world?¬†I personally loved the video but still don’t see the point of sharing sounds besides the novelty factor. I may be wrong, but I feel that with the overstimulation going on in our daily lives I’d much rather get my peace from SILENCE every once in a while :)However if this can lead to a shakeup in music distribution, or even music *creation*, then that would be something very cool.¬†If it leads to a change in *what we consider to BE music*… You’ve got yourself a world-changer.

        1. Guest

          The point I was trying to make, is that you should try to sell your platform by letting others experience it. ¬†It’s not applicable/possible in all scenarios. ¬†We do live in a world of¬†over stimulation, but sounds can be soothing. ¬†Sounds can lead to silence (mantra-repetition to meditation). ¬†Silence can be music to my ears. ¬†ūüôā¬†¬†¬†

  17. William Mougayar

    There is so much power in simplicity of expression. The more simple you can express an idea, the stronger of a pull it will have. People (and investors) are drawn to it.

    1. Tom Labus

      This the “grimlock effect”.

      1. William Mougayar

        I think Grimlock is Yogi Berra disguised as a dinosaur. 

        1. ErikSchwartz

          I think Yogi Berra was a GRIMLOCK disguised as a ball player.

          1. William Mougayar

            LOL. ^2

    2. MBAchic

      I agree. Also, expressing your idea in simple terms at the beginning provides direction. As you move forward and have to deliver to more stakeholders (investors, customers, affiliates, etc…), having the opportunity to refer to a clear, simple idea to make sure you and your team are on track is really helpful. Sometimes the initial idea is too complicated or specific, but this is so appealing (and offers more flexibility). Honestly, I think I could use this advice myself. Thanks!Great video – “…sense of touching from a distance” – loved that

    3. Donna Brewington White

      I’ve noticed this about Fred, too. ¬†

  18. andyidsinga

    Its really neat that you met with him a number of times – were they all totally different business ideas or refinements from early discussions?

    1. fredwilson

      same idea each timeeach time he had more fully developed the idea and the business

      1. Matt A. Myers

        I think this is a great process. Keeps us hungry, forces us to refine; Let’s us see what we’re made of too and if we’re in it for the long haul.

  19. Brian Broadbent

    Here is an interesting business model suggestion for something like Soundcloud.One thing that frustrates me with publishing content to sites like a Soundcloudis the inability to monetize users that view my content. For example, suppose ayoung rap artist uploads a new track that they cut up to Soundcloud. Wouldn’tit be great if that artist could can have an email sign up box (with info abouttheir upcoming concert dates) or a link to their Facebook fan page when someoneis interacting with their content. A better example would be with articlepublishing sites like Articlebase. I publish an article and then my competitorsbuy ads promoting their services using Google AdWords. I would be willing topublish better content if I controlled the ad inventory instead of letting mycompetitors advertise alongside me.For something like Soundcloud, this power profile (links toFacebook, Twitter, etc) is a simple upsell or something to package into themembership to get more content creators to pull out their credit cards.

    1. fredwilson

      they know they have to go in this direction

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Music – Programming with soundMusicians – Programmers of sound

  20. Elia Freedman

    My father is a jazz musician and piano technician. I remember listening to him tune pianos when I was little and was just fascinated by the repetitive patterns. As I got older and he started playing around with technology and recording sound waves, I remember looking at and being fascinated by the waves themselves. Some of them are artistic in their own rights. I could almost hear the music without actually hearing the music.Very interesting idea, Alex. I hope you are successful with it.

  21. ShanaC

    I suggest not watching the video, and only listening to it. ¬†You “get” more of what they are talking about. ¬†You start hearing the richness of the sound, and then you realize how bad most videos would be without it.

    1. fredwilson

      I knowIt should have been an audio track

      1. ShanaC

        It has a radiolab like quality to it. ¬†That’s why

        1. testtest

          listened to the one on loops. thanks.loops are fascinating. and will become more important as the web becomes more semantic.conjecture:there’ll be a convergence of the semantic web and the internet of things. “things” naturally have semantics; certain properties, certain actions they can take. these objects won’t sit by themselves, they can be linked in a loop with your phone, and services that produce¬†data exhaust. of course you’ll want to be able to control what’s in the loop; your¬†possessions, your data, your computational systems (phone, wearable tech etc).¬†pulling things into your loop then automatically creates services, not just for you but for other objects in your loop, and also gives you the ability to control the objects explicitly.

  22. Dsarma

    “That’s what sold me. One slide.”That slide was the punchline, but you were sold by the story that was told, and the simplicity of filling in the blank there. Like leaving off the last note of a good song, everyone should know what it’s supposed to be, and should be unsatisfied if it’s not delivered.¬†Your statement is a very succinct statement, though, of what an audience will come away with at the end of the day. The bulk of the work of building to that point is set aside, and the punchline takes the glory.

    1. fredwilson


  23. Andrew

    The thing I think is interesting about Soundcloud is that more than the other media platforms built on the web, it is a product of the mobile boom.Digital cameras and video cameras were not uncommon personal products prior to smartphones. That’s why Flickr and YouTube could exist before iPhones and Androids.But the sound space remained empty because people simply didn’t have audio-only recording devices.¬†Now, iPhones and Androids have sound recorders in them. For the first time, millions of people have something they can use to capture sound without capturing video alongside- and a way to share it.The next step is developing sound literacy among the general public. Many amateur photographers know the basics of capturing a good image. I’m curious how long before similar knowledge of capturing good sounds develops.I know Soundcloud has various projects in its community (groups, found sounds, etc). Might sound school with these or other experts be a new addition?

    1. fredwilson


    2. David No√ęl

      You nailed it, Andrew. Like Fred said earlier, exactly.

  24. Mike Lee

    I love the lines: “I met Alex Ljung, founder/CEO of SoundCloud a number of times and each time he pitched me on his business. Each time I said no.”I love them because they show how perseverance pays off.

    1. fredwilson

      That is partially why i wrote this post

  25. testtest

    i consider low fidelity important.people share lo-fi video. i don’t think lo-fi sound works.following that premise, there won’t be a social platform for sound. at least not a youtube for sound.

  26. leigh

    that is a lovely little video. ¬†here’s another fav of mine which somehow reminds me of it….

  27. testtest

    soho house is cool. i used to know a thing or two about the hotspots of london. used to be a club promotor:

  28. Paul Sanwald

    nice video. I’ve been really active on soundcloud since getting introduced to it through this blog, in fact, I posted something earlier this morning. it’s a short improvisation on an 11 string fretless guitar:

    1. fredwilson

      Just fav’d it so i can listen when ive got time to appreciate it properly

      1. Paul Sanwald

        cool! the thing I really want to try is collaborating on a piece of music with someone via soundcloud.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          The sound quality is amazing.¬† I¬†do¬†can’t help but inserting the Latin where occasionally with right hand do a¬†3 strike tremelo on the tonic note.¬† Just be sure to hit and then stop with next finger before¬†it strikes (Latin vs,¬†European)…¬† Expanding via variation offers room for someone else to add background riffs and/or counterpoint.Very good.¬†

        2. David No√ęl

          You should check out Oliver Sadie, he’s a master at engaging his community on SoundCloud…

    2. fredwilson

      just listened. very nice. great sunday morning music.

  29. Esayas Gebremedhin

    Wondering if he had build the product already? “To build that large social platform to share sounds.”

    1. fredwilson

      YesThey had built it the first time i met them

      1. ErikSchwartz

        What did you miss the first time? Did you not understand the vision? Did you not believe they could do it? Was it really the slide, or was the slide just in front of you when it all clicked?

        1. fredwilson

          i thought it was all about musicturns out i misunderstood the vision

          1. Tom

            The key for Soundcloud is to stay at a distance from music.Be broad-based and it may work.Also, fix the glitches. Sometimes Soundcloud works, sometimes it just locks up.

      2. davidhclark

        @fredwilson:disqus¬†¬†I enjoy listening to MBA Mondays on soundcloud! Would you have invested in soundcloud if they were in the process of building and you understood the vision the first time?¬†I guess the underlying question is would you invest in a company with great engineering and product talent and a clear and confident vision for the NBT if their product wasn’t finished being built yet? (maybe the platform is so disruptive they’re building a new framework and need $ to speed up the process…)¬†By the way I met¬†@garyvee:twitter¬†in Vegas this past Monday and briefly showed him mockups of what we’re building. He agreed to meet in NY and he said he’d have you come. I told him we’ll make it happen as soon as our demo is done. I’m very very excited! You and Gary are my two favorite tech leaders.

        1. fredwilson

          gary and fred doing a joint meeting. that sounds fun.we like to wait until the service is built and launched. then we can see if the product matches the vision.

  30. Motheo Moleko

    Great vid.This is more to Alex’s pitch for building that large social platform to share sounds than the video, but as a musician – and having spoken to other friends in the space – we really want one big sound sharing social platform to emerge the winner.This is interesting for two reasons:One, generally, it speaks to a desire to see one software company conquer all competitors in its space so everybody has a common focal point. (Think FB, Twitter, maybe even Instagram one day, etc)Two, I think Alex is spot on. The space is there for the taking, and (perhaps selfishly) the sooner somebody claims it the better. From the services I’ve tried, SoundCloud could well be that platform.

    1. David No√ęl

      We had two great tweets directed at @SoundCloud:disqus  the other day: one from someone who uses the record feature and the annotations to record herself practicing her lectures and another one from a dad who records the sounds of his baby girl to track the progress her voice makes.We are indeed becoming more sound literate. I walked around NYC today looking *and* listening.

  31. markslater

    that’s¬†a beautiful piece of work. i am tuning in to the A320 (jet blue) soaring over my window from¬†Logan¬†as i type makes me ask myself – am i really pursuing what i love? Will this¬†transform, empower, and improves the lives of all¬†individuals? not the one at the expense of the 10,000?i believe what i am doing will.¬†that’s¬†not a joke or a throw away – “sound convenient” comment. I really believe i can.¬†

    1. matthewdbenson

      “it makes me ask myself – am i really pursuing what i love?” – me too; I was thinking this also; stirs up the passions ¬†of really ‘noticing’ something (whether it be sound, or something else)

  32. Lloyd Price

    I first came across SoundCloud on the website for startups back in March 2009, was blown away by the possibilities his platform would be able to do so tried to angel invest, however he took 2.5m euros of VC¬†from Doughty Hanson a few weeks later in April 2009.Initially thought it was a b2b spotify, then the youtube for music, great to see him developing SC to its potential and put Berlin on the map as a tech hub.(Alex can verify the authenticity of this email)———- Forwarded message ———-From: Alexander LjungDate: 5 March 2009 18:10Subject: SoundCloudTo: [email protected] lloyd,thanks for the message regarding investments. Would you mind telling us a little more about yourself? Are you with an¬†institutional¬†firm or investing as a private angel?Alex‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚Äď‚ÄďAlexander LjungFounder & CEO, SoundCloudMail & gtalk: [email protected]:¬†Cell:¬†+49¬†√üe 5a,¬†10117 Berlin,¬†Germany

  33. LE

    The video is more or less like an imagead that would be useful once you are familiarwith the service or when selling undifferentiatedproducts where you want to project a feeling or emotion.My opinion is the video is not appropriate for achieving the goal of getting people topay attention to SoundCloud. It isn’tmade to mass appeal standards. It will of courseresonate with sound engineers.Along those lines they should interject the professionalsbeing quoted with regular people who have or would haveuploaded to sound cloud. A baby saying first words, a piano recital etc.¬† or the altercation the other day between Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker I’d love to hear that one.¬†In other words keep the professionals, butinterject real people so the productis relevant.I wouldn’t have had the attention span to watchthe entire video and was more or less waitingfor the punch line. I wasn’t even sure whatit was about until I went to the site.The video should make me want to go to thesite.That being said once I took a lookI realized that I had just made a recording a fewhours ago of an verbal fight between a two people thatwould have been great to share with this service.(One of them an older asian immigrant so it was fullof emotion like the Korean scene from “Falling down” with Michael Douglas)The only issue is that I wanted to bleep outsome of the names before making it publicand I’d have to do that in a local audio editing program.And not everyone can do that…so…A nice feature that they can addwould be the ability to bleep outcertain portions of the audio, or to do a voiceover or annotate certain portions while retainingsome of the track at reduced sound levels asbackground.Relevant movie trailer:Blow Out 1981, Travolta,Lithgow, Dennis Franz About sound recording being used to solve a crime.(Note: pre roll ad runs before trailer)…

  34. Pete Griffiths

    Is it just me or is vimeo slow to load and hence really annoying.

  35. laurie kalmanson

    awesome.i had a chance to speak at barcampnashville today #bcn11 and i worked on preso with this community in mind as much as that one…thnx for the inspiration

  36. Wells Baum

    I wonder if Alex even tried to pitch Zuck on a larger Facebook partnership surrounding music. My hunch says no given that Spotify is strictly a music service.However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see SoundCloud become a bigger part of Facebook directly as the social network is always trying to offer users captivating experiences through the ease of expression. Soundcloud just moved to SF in the US too, putting it strategically closer to Facebook while keeping a confined close relationship with David Karp at Tumblr.

  37. Fred Destin

    Ha !  I wanted to fund Alex and I never really got to see him.  Oh well.

    1. Wells Baum

      Hit up Rexly while u can:)

  38. Jared Friedman

    Would love to see the slide!

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t have itmaybe alex will post it

      1. Wells Baum

        Found it:

        1. fredwilson

          i don’t see it in your instagram feed

          1. Wells Baum

            Instagram seems be down, but when it’s back up: ¬† ¬†ūüôā

  39. Dave W Baldwin

    Good job Fred and you know my opinion related to Education.  Enabling the collaboration in   experimental music is bigger than canvas.  Setting ports/harbors where a basic progression/melody that others can either do something that may be considered excessive noise or be filtered to a more duo/trio pushing an expansion of melody/harmony/structure/rhythm(please) before you even get to lyric.  I would also push rappers do solo to push pitch/rhythm and that leads to part of my bigger project related to spoken word.Love it! 

  40. Senith

    How do you monetize this should not be asked? This is a beautiful project worth pursuing by itself!

  41. Windump

    beatport does this

  42. Danny Khatib

    It’s a nice concept. ¬†I’m trying to better understand the vision. ¬†If we’re talking large social platforms, then I assume we’re talking big use cases for everyday people, not a collection of small cases for niche applications. ¬†Typically large social platforms coalesce from an existing user behavior that is either professional or personal in nature, and often times the need is so obvious that there is a long history of prior companies attempting to serve that behavior online and gaining some traction to validate the need, but not enough to thrive, before a dominant platform emerges at the right time and place. ¬†Video has film/tv + friends/family videos, photo has magazines + friends/family photos, text has books/newspapers + notes/letters. ¬†These are all standard experiences that have existed offline for decades or more. ¬†Sound has music + telephony. ¬†Those are the two massive use cases for audio…is there another obvious massive use case for sound that you think is a no-brainer every day activity if the platform can serve it well?

  43. Christian Ô£Ņ

    mobile boom… ok but what about Dropbox they are not doing something similar to soundcloud ? Despite this I gree on the sound vision, but honestly Dropbox already help me a lot, even if is not foucusing on music business.

  44. Guest

    1 word – sound. simple. to the pt. nice