The SoundCloud Creator Guide is a comprehensive resource that will help you get the most out of your SoundCloud experience, with instructions and tips on everything from setting up your account, to finding your audience, to making money from your work.
What is the SoundCloud Creator Guide?
Sign into your account on Soundcloud.com and look for your name in the top right-hand corner of the page. Click on Profile from the dropdown box. Click on Edit and you will now be able to edit your profile.
How do I set up my profile on SoundCloud?
Selecting a Display Name and URL for your account
Your Display Name and Profile URL are what the public first sees before even streaming your tracks. Similar to an in-person introduction, this is your chance to make a memorable first impression.
If you are a band, use your band’s name for your Display Name. If you are a solo performer, use the name you perform under. If you are uploading episodes of a podcast, use the podcast name.
A Display Name doesn’t need to be unique, so no need to use the word “official” or any numbers (unless of course numbers are part of your name). The cleaner your display name is, the better your profile will look on SoundCloud and other sites and apps when it is embedded. It will also be easier for search engines and listeners to find you. If your name is Jane Jones, someone would likely type in Jane Jones with a space between the first and last name, so having your display name read Janejones wouldn’t make sense. Unless, of course, this is the stylized version you prefer and record under. Be consistent in how you want to be known. If you have a “V” for the “U” and your band name is always written in all caps (a la CHVRCHES), make sure to reflect that.
While the Display Name can be anything, your Profile URL needs to be unique. It should be memorable (e.g., your band name) and legible as a link – the simpler the better as this is the URL you will be sharing online or in a passing conversation. Your URL could be your display name if that’s available, or your band name with “music” on the end if you need to further differentiate. This link will lead to a repository of all of your tracks, so it’s better to be general vs. specific.
How to set up a great SoundCloud profile image
There are two images to think about here. Like other accounts you have on the web or in apps, your profile photo should be an image that helps fans and other users find you. It’s important to select an image that portrays you or your tracks accurately and sends a message about what you represent.
In Edit Your Profile, click on the round circle. Choose a photo or a logo you want to use. Keep in mind that the image you choose will be displayed in a circle on your SoundCloud profile. You can zoom and reposition your profile image during the upload process to get the perfect fit. We suggest a minimum 800 x 800 pixel resolution.
A profile header image is another visual element that you can add to your profile to make it stand out. This photo can also be cropped or repositioned for maximum impact. The header image will be displayed in a landscape orientation so select something that works well in a horizontal format. This space is a great opportunity to feature the project you are currently promoting, like a track, EP, album or tour.
Whether you're an artist, label, podcaster or beat-maker – we have an account for you. If you’re a serious creator trying to build your career and need all the stats and upload time you can get, SoundCloud Pro Unlimited is probably the way to go. If you want to record the sound of your own voice and put it out there for the world to hear, Basic might be your best bet. Read on for more info on these options, and everything in between.
How to choose the right SoundCloud account
Type of Accounts
The Basic account is free and gives you three hours worth of uploads, basic stats, and basic embed controls. It’s a great place to start and figure out exactly what you are doing before you upgrade.
The next level up gives you six hours of hosted uploads, advanced stats and advanced embed controls. SoundCloud Pro also includes the Spotlight feature that allows you to highlight up to five tracks, the Replace Tracks feature that save the stats for a track if you upload a new version of it, and Quiet Mode, that allows you to turn off public stats and comments. If you are a creator of original music content and have zero copyright strikes, SoundCloud Pro also may enable you to earn money from your work with SoundCloud Premier monetization.
We’ve done the math for you and this option is the best value for most users. You get all the options from a Pro account PLUS you get an increased upload quota, you’re able to schedule your releases, and you can access SoundCloud Go+ at half the cost of a normal subscription. Find out more about pricing and perks by clicking on this link.
SoundCloud Go allows you to listen to SoundCloud wherever you are - even offline. You get 120,000,000+ tracks from established and emerging artists, you can save tracks offline on mobile, and get ad-free listening.
Go+ gives you all that and more, including 30,000,000 premium tracks. You can try SoundCloud Go+ for free for 30 days by clicking on this link. And when you’re a Pro Unlimited subscriber, you get Go+ at half the price.
Make your tracks easy to find by giving them clear titles and detailed metadata when you upload something new. Eye-catching high-resolution artwork will also help you stand out.
How to optimize your SoundCloud tracks
Keep your track, album, and playlist titles clean (we’re not talking about curse words - that’s on you)
A clear track title helps your fans know exactly what they’re listening to. Avoid duplicating information that’s displayed elsewhere. There’s no need to add track numbers to your title when uploading an album.
When uploading to a label or editorial account, title your tracks as “Artist Name – Track Title” to ensure the artist is identified and a track isn’t attributed just to the SoundCloud account.
If you are a podcaster or a journalist who is sharing audio on SoundCloud include important information such as the names of guests and discussion topics in the title. This helps with searches and discoverability.
Make the most of images and descriptions
Your music shouldn’t just sound good, it should look good, too. Upload artwork for your tracks and albums - the higher resolution the better. You can zoom and reposition your artwork or images during the upload process to get the perfect fit.
The descriptions of your tracks and albums are the perfect place to share extra information: think about including a track’s backstory, add credits, lyrics, gear lists, or guest lists. Give a shout out to collaborators and feature artists, by linking to their SoundCloud profiles.
Whatever way you choose to present your tracks - be consistent with your information and in your style. It will look more professional and be more accessible to fans.
SoundCloud genre and mood tags are important
Tagging your tracks with relevant genre information is important and helps get your tracks in front of the right people. SoundCloud uses an algorithm to suggest tracks to users and it is important to tag your tracks with accurate genre information. Genre tags are also required to qualify for charts.
For genre, select the chart category that best suits your tracks and playlists. If nothing fits, you can add a custom genre.
In addition to selecting a main genre, tag your tracks with a few relevant sub-genres and any moods that you think describe the track. It’s better to add a handful of relevant tags rather than go crazy and add as many as you can.
If you are an audio creator, make sure that your first tag corresponds to one of the main audio categories in Charts. Next, work your way from general terms such as “podcast” to more specific ones such as “NPR.” It helps to include the names of guests or geographical places that are discussed.
Build your own SoundCloud discography
Playlists marked as an album, EP, single, or compilation will be displayed in the albums section of your profile. They will be listed in order of release date to make it easier for your fans to find what they’re looking for and save it to their own collection.
If you want to dig into your own archive and upload some old tracks they will be displayed in your discography without taking attention away from your most-recent tracks.
How to edit multiple tracks at once
We have good news if you think updating tracks one at a time seems like a drag. You can make changes - update settings, tags, and artwork - to multiple tracks at once and also create a new playlist from a selection of multiple uploads. To update multiple tracks go to soundcloud.com/you/tracks. Select the tracks you want to change and then click Edit or Add to playlist to make your changes.
Hosting your podcast on SoundCloud is a great way to reach your target audience, make new fans, interact with listeners, and keep the overheads low. A few simple steps can get you started and get your podcast into the world.
To encourage listeners to follow your SoundCloud profile and leave comments on your podcast, you should promote your SoundCloud URL in the introduction or credits of your podcast. That way, fans who discover your content via iTunes will know you’re on SoundCloud.
Podcasting with SoundCloud
Set up an RSS feed for your SoundCloud podcast
You can reach new audiences for your podcast through distribution platforms like iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn by setting up an RSS feed of your podcast.
1. Create an account
This is very similar to setting up a regular SoundCloud account with one main difference: activating an RSS feed that will get your podcast out there.
If you haven’t yet created a SoundCloud account, go to SoundCloud:
2. Complete your profile information
Go to your profile and click the Edit button:
To optimize your profile further, refer to the Set up your profile page.
3. Adjust the content settings
On the Settings page, click the Content tab:
Adjust more content settings (this is optional)
Submit your SoundCloud podcast feed to other distribution platforms
Add your SoundCloud RSS feed to your social media networks:
How to map SoundCloud information to iTunes directory fields
Use SoundCloud Stats to understand who your audience is, where they are located, how they listen, and what tracks they like. Start by downloading the Pulse app to monitor your numbers. Alternatively, access them through the Stats page on the SoundCloud website. You can upgrade your account to get deeper stats.
Stats help you measure the success of your tracks. You can review your plays, likes, comments, reposts and downloads, discover which of your tracks are performing best, and what countries and cities they’re most popular in.
The play counts of your tracks include plays on SoundCloud as well as embedded players, and third-party apps that use the SoundCloud API. Play counts also include streams and downloads via your RSS feed.
If you have a Pro Unlimited plan, you can see how many plays come via your RSS feed by looking at the Apps tab in your stats. From the RSS tab, you can see the RSS apps that your subscribers use to listen to your podcast.
Learn about your audience with Stats
Melo Makes Music
How to take a deep dive on your SoundCloud stats
When viewing stats for your account, you’ll see a bar chart showing activity over a specific period of time. The chart highlights the five most-popular tracks for the selected period of time. Other activity is displayed in gray and and marked as Others.
Hovering over the bar chart provides more detailed information and provide totals for each day. You can filter your view so that only stats for a specific track are displayed: click on a track title and you’ll see a line graph plotting activity over time.
Use the calendar feature at the top right hand of the page to review your account and see activity over a specific time period. You can customize a time period to coincide with your release or campaign cycles to see how any track or artist performed on SoundCloud.
Click on a track and select the All Time option for a detailed look at a track’s stats over its lifetime. Analyzing a track - especially around key moments in a campaign - is a great way to help you make informed decisions for future projects.
Pro and Pro Unlimited users can access even more stats
With stats, you can grow your career – with strategy. Find out where your plays are based so you can swing by those cities next tour, or track down that loyal fan who likes everything you do and say, “thanks.” You can upgrade to SoundCloud Pro or Pro Unlimited, nd find out more about stats below.
Click the Top Cities tab next to Top Countries to see a breakdown of which territories your plays are coming from. Use these details to help plan your next promotions or tour and help prioritize resources around a release.
Who (People stats)
Switch between the plays, likes, comments, reposts, and downloads tabs in your stats to see which fans are bringing you the most of each.
Websites/Apps displays your referral sources. This includes details of where your tracks have been embedded and a breakdown of what apps in the SoundCloud ecosystem your tracks are being streamed from. Using the Calendar option to select specific dates shows which blogs are generating the majority of your plays over the course of a campaign.
Charts and what they mean
Charts is a new and easy way to stay plugged in to what’s trending on SoundCloud. With unique lists for both the top 50 tracks of the week and new tracks that are getting lots of buzz on SoundCloud, the feature is your destination for the latest and greatest sounds out there. Charts replaces Explore on the web, so you can get there from the link at the top of your Stream, or by going here.
The Top 50 chart updates every day and shows the 50 most-played tracks for the past week. The “New & Hot” section updates multiple times each day, and shows tracks that are trending on SoundCloud right now, focusing on tracks that were uploaded more recently.
If you are a creator and want to get your track trending, we recommend authentic interactions with your followers, and timely promotion of your recently uploaded tracks to increase your chances of reaching your audience and getting chart action. It also helps to have the track tagged correctly with the genre you want it to appear and chart in. The first tag should be the main genre, ideally taken from the list of genres shown in the corresponding charts.
The charts algorithm takes a day to recognize private tracks that are later made public. For greater visibility, we recommend uploading these tracks publicly to increase listens and your chances of getting onto the charts.
How to share your SoundCloud tracks with the world
Share your tracks on social media
SoundCloud integrations with Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr make it easy for fans to listen to your music quickly and easily.
Sharing to Facebook allows your fans to stream your tracks or playlists and get information about you in the track/playlist description. Include details about your recording process, upcoming tour dates or include a link to buy your tracks in your track description - all this information is displayed on Facebook when your track is shared. SoundCloud links embed directly into Facebook so that users don’t have to leave the platform to check out your music.
Connect your SoundCloud account to Twitter and each new track you create will automatically be tweeted from your account. SoundCloud links also embed directly into Twitter Cards. Any embedded track starts playing automatically as the Twitter Card is clicked and expands with the embedded player.
Use the Audio post function when sharing to Tumblr - your tracks and playlists will stream seamlessly in the user dashboard this way. The SoundCloud visual player is the default on Tumblr so include your album artwork in every upload. Tumblr also uses tags to help users discover new tracks. ‘Music’ is a good place to start; include your genre, name and the subject matter of your sound, too.
Google+ displays the artwork for every track you share, so make sure you’re including high quality artwork on your profile and in your uploads. You can also add relevant hashtags to your posts so they’re more discoverable on Google+.
Share your tracks on an embedded player
SoundCloud embedded players help you share your tracks on blogs and websites. It’s a very simple process to add an embedded player to a website or blog. Click the Share dialog on your track or playlist, copy the embed code, and paste it into your site. That’s it.
There are two styles of embedded player:
The visual player puts your artwork front and center. The large image ensures that tracks look as good as they sound. Autoplay functionality and continuous playback are both available with the visual player. If you have a Pro Unlimited plan, you also have the option to display your Spotlight tracks as related tracks - or disable the feature.
The default player is a customizable option that allows you to edit the color of your player, scale its size, and display or hide comments, usernames, and algorithmic suggestions.
The Mini Player is a smaller, sleeker option available to Pro/Pro Unlimited users. Select between a light and dark scheme and choose from a variety of colors for the play button and playing progress.
Share your SoundCloud tracks privately
Maybe you want to get feedback on a track from your OG superfans before sharing it with the masses. Or maybe you’d like to pitch your beats to a vocalist you found while skimming the Folk & Singer-Songwriter Charts. Or maybe you’re shopping around your EP to music blogs to premiere exclusively before releasing it publicly. We don’t need to know why you want to keep your music a secret, the important thing is this: we have a way for you to share and collaborate discreetly before it’s 100% ready to be unleashed.
Click Share on any private track or playlist and copy the automatically generated secret link. Only people with this secret link will be able to access the track or playlist. If you want to revoke access and generate a new secret link click the Reset secret link button.
You can also send private tracks and playlists as a SoundCloud message. In the Share menu click the Message tab, select who you want to send the message to, and hit send.
To generate a private embed code that can be exclusive to any webpage, click Share on any private track or playlist. The track will be private on SoundCloud and only visible via the private embed.
Other ideas to expand your SoundCloud fanbase and reach a wider audience
Reposting a track or playlist by another creator adds it to both your profile and stream and pushes it to the streams of your followers. You can repost tracks that inspire you so that your followers can hear them too. Encourage other artists and fans to repost your tracks to help grow cross-profile promotion and heighten exposure on SoundCloud.
‘Like’ any track or playlist to easily find it at a later date, and to let the original creator know their work is appreciated.
Curate your favorite tracks, show off new songs from upcoming releases, or create back catalog playlists as a way to contextualize new projects. Build a dialog with your followers between releases with playlists that showcase your taste, or give fans a sneak peek at content they’ll want to repost in their feeds. The more active and accessible you are on SoundCloud, the more likely you are to be discovered. So keep creating and sharing so that your future followers can easily can find you.
Timed Comments allow discussion and feedback on tracks. Fans can communicate with their favorite creators by showing support or offering feedback while creators can reply to comments and strike up a conversation with fans. Engage with people who comment on your tracks - building a community of fans helps your work gain traction.
Copyright is a word that pops up a lot in the music industry and on the internet - and maybe you’ve seen it on SoundCloud if you’re reading the fine print - but what exactly does it mean? Copyright is legal protection for original works (e.g., music, books or movies) – like the original content you’re uploading to SoundCloud. Anytime you create something and share it publicly, there’s a chance that someone else might like it so much that they try to take it and make it their own. Copyright protects your work and ensures this doesn’t happen to you.
The moment a piece of work is created, copyright protection is automatically granted to the owner of the work AKA the rightsholder. Copyright gives a creator exclusive rights to make copies, distribute, perform or display the work publicly, or make “derivative works” such as modifications or alterations of the work (like a remix).
It’s important to us because a) it’s the law, and we’re required to comply in order to exist as a platform for expression, and b) because we respect creators and want their work to be recognized and protected.
Copyright infringement is when someone else’s work is used without permission. If we receive an infringement report from a rightsholder, we are required to take down the reported content in order to be in compliance with copyright law. If the infringer is not able to resolve their dispute with the rightsholder, they will be issued a strike. Just like baseball, it’s a “three strikes and you’re out” policy, and accounts with three strikes will be terminated.
SoundCloud’s copyright policies
When releasing a new album or announcing a tour you can record an audio announcement to sit alongside your tracks so you can let your fans know about the news.
Document your tour dates, travels, and experiences with audio and share them across your social networks. Encourage fans to send you questions via Twitter and record personal audio responses to Tweet back at them.
If you are a creator and you'd like to get your track trending, we recommend genuine interactions with your followers, and promotion of the track across your social media presence shortly after you've uploaded it to ensure relevancy and increase its visibility.. It also helps to have the track tagged correctly with the genre you want it to appear in. The first tag should be the main genre, ideally taken from the list of genres shown in the charts.
How to promote your SoundCloud tracks
If you’re creating on SoundCloud, you know that you can upload a track and it’s readily available for your fans to stream. With SoundCloud Premier monetization, we wanted to bring this instant gratification to payments – fast-tracking a process that can be time-consuming and complex.
When you monetize with SoundCloud Premier, we provide the following things:
You retain all rights for the music you choose to monetize with SoundCloud Premier and are free to make that music available across other platforms. Note, you have the option to enable downloads for any of your tracks as long as you have the necessary rights to do so. However, SoundCloud doesn’t charge users for downloads and so isn’t responsible for the payment of royalties on downloads. If you choose to make one of your tracks available for download, you will be responsible for any publishing royalties that are due on those downloads.
Why you should monetize with SoundCloud Premier
Who can monetize with SoundCloud Premier
We know you put in the work because creating is your passion, but now all that time and energy spent fine-tuning your latest track will literally pay off – because with SoundCloud Premier monetization, your next payday could start today.
Do you qualify?
If eligible, you’ll receive an email or in-product notification to opt-in your tracks. Note you must meet the minimum age requirement of 18 years old or age of majority in your country to get paid.
The more your track is played the more you get paid, so use all the Pro tools your subscription offers to keep uploading money-making content and sharing your original songs with SoundCloud’s massive global audience.
How monetizing with SoundCloud Premier works
You’ll receive a share of revenue based on plays in eligible countries. That means that plays used to calculate payments will differ from the total plays you see in the app. You can make sure you have monetization enabled by checking in the respective track’s settings.
Please note, any money earned on tracks that have been distributed to SoundCloud via a label or distributor will be subject to your label or distributor deal, and should appear in your regular royalty statements from the label or distributor.
Code to know: ISRC
ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is a unique code that is assigned to a sound recording. It is used when monetizing music, and is required in order to enable a track for monetization. Use the same ISRC for a given sound recording wherever you make it available, across all territories and music services.
If you don’t already have ISRCs, you can have them created for you when uploading or editing a track.
As ISRCs are unique per track, first make sure you don’t already have a code through one of your partners. Ask about ISRCs for your tracks if you:
Music publishing 101
It’s always best to get an expert opinion when it comes to your career – but to get you started, we’ve summarized some basics of music publishing here.
Just as every rose has its thorn, every song has two parts.
The way you probably think of a song is as a recording, because that’s the experience of hearing a track. The recording is the sounds themselves as an mp3, or a CD or any other listening format. The composition is the ideas, words and musical structures that make up the framework of a song.
Let’s travel back to 1984 when Prince wrote the song “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Maybe he didn’t record it right away, but he wrote it down. Its existence is the composition. In 1990, Sinead O’Connor made a recording of Prince’s song, and it became a smash hit.
Both the recording and the composition have rights associated with them that are worth money. Generally, record labels administer rights in the recordings [Master Recordings], publishing companies administer certain rights in compositions.
So when Sinead O’Connor recorded “Nothing Compares 2 U,” her record label owned the recording and paid her a royalty for her work on it as the recording artist. Her label sold her recording of Prince’s song, and since they were using Prince’s composition, they paid Prince’s publisher, who then paid Prince – whereas collecting societies and PROs (if you read to the bottom, you will find out the definition of this acronym) administer other rights in compositions.
For public performances of the song, such as when the song was played on the radio or in a bar, the collecting society or PRO that controlled public performance rights in the musical composition was paid royalties by the radio station or bar.
The publisher’s role in this example is to ensure Prince has registered his composition correctly with the copyright office and the PRO, and that the record label has properly licensed the composition and is accurately reporting what is owed to the publisher.
How music publishing affects you
As an artist on SoundCloud today, if you wrote and recorded everything in a song you upload to SoundCloud (and you own all of the rights in the song) and are monetizing – you’ll get paid for both the recording and the composition. You’ll get paid for the recording by SoundCloud directly. But before you get paid for publishing rights of your song (the composition), there are a few things to know. You might want to copy / paste the following section into your notes.
Being a music publisher means you have a publishing company that you use to administer your publishing income streams. There are two basic kinds of income streams for music publishing rights: public performance and mechanical reproduction.
Public performance = any time your composition is “performed” in public. In addition to concerts, this includes plays on the radio and TV shows (which include additional Synch license fees that we won’t get into now) as well as interactive streams.
Mechanical reproduction = any time someone makes a copy of your composition for distribution, whether this is a CD or download or vinyl record.
How to collect publishing royalties for your composition
In addition to earning royalties from your sound recordings, you may also be eligible to collect royalties from the compositions underlying your sound recordings if you own or control the applicable rights.
The most effective way to make sure that you can collect public performance royalties for your songs is to choose a PRO (Performing Rights Organization) as soon as the composition is written, as a PRO’s main responsibility is to collect public performance royalties for songwriters. There are three major PROs in the US (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) and a few smaller boutique ones, so do your research. In Europe (and in other regions around the world) there is typically one performing rights organization or society per territory, with a few exceptions.
Mechanical reproduction royalties will be paid to you either directly (if you have not signed an agreement with a music publisher) or by a music publisher (if you have signed an agreement). The most effective way to make sure that you can collect those royalties is for you or your music publisher, if applicable, to register your songs with the parties that use your music and/or companies which administer royalty payments on their behalf. SoundCloud currently uses Music Reports Inc. (MRI) to administer payment of mechanical reproduction royalties in the US.
To find out more about MRI, visit https://www.musicreports.com/