There are a bunch of websites to allow you to share and discover new music, especially from artists that aren’t as big or popular as they deserve. Perhaps the most widely used of these is one called SoundCloud, which is used by many artists personally.
The app that we are reviewing today is a native SoundCloud client for Mac, made by the same folks behind the website. How good is it? Let’s find out.
SoundCloud.com is a music service that lets you upload, share, and listen to tracks from people all over the world. It isn’t the only site that does this, but it is one of the most popular players in this genre. There are a bunch of artists and labels that have their own accounts and upload free stuff that anyone can listen to.
The SoundCloud Mac app is a client that lets you use the site’s service on your computer while giving you pretty much the complete functionality of the site. Or does it?
The app does a good job at feeling like a native Mac app. On the top, you can find things like the search button, the volume control and a refresh button. In the center, you have the main frame and two sidebars. The left sidebar is where you can record something, or navigate between different menus like your tracks or your feed of incoming tracks. The main frame is where you can select tracks and view information from them.
The sidebar on the right is the one where you’ll be shown information about the track that is currently selected. Here you can see the cover, name, tags, user, and more information; as well as favorite or buy the track.
On the bottom you have a small box where you can see the title and artist of the track that is being played, as well as the control buttons (pause, play, forward) and the navigation bar for the track.
I guess what the SoundCloud people push the most with this app is the ability to directly record a sound into the app and upload it right then and there. But I don’t think it’s a very functional feature, especially if you are a serious musician who might need a more complex tool for editing and recording with several layers. Still, the feature is there, along with a few others that the site does not have, like queueing tracks.
Aside from those, there is everything that you can find on the site, almost. You can love, search, buy, and listen to tracks. You can share what you’re listening to on sites like Facebook and Twitter, view your own tracks and create playlists. There’s also support for the Incoming and Exclusive features from the site, which are used when other users share music with you (though I can’t seem to get the Incoming feature to work).
Something that has always annoyed me about SoundCloud is the lack of support for Last.fm’s scrobbling. I’m a huge fan and user of Last.fm, and this issue has stopped me from using SoundCloud a bunch of times, and instead going out to try sites like The Sixty One or Grooveshark. Unfortunately, this app doesn’t fulfill my wish of combining scribbling with SoundCloud.
Also, there are some features that should be pretty basic and that should obviously be included in the app, but somehow are missing. For example, you can’t exactly directly upload a track of yours, you can just record a track into the app and then upload it. There is also no way to look at the tracks that are “Hot,” like you can do in the site. This flaw, coupled with the fact that the “Incoming” feature does not work for me, makes it a bit hard to discover new music.
Overall, this app does a decent job of being a SoundCloud client, but nothing more than that. Even though it seems like it tries to add something more to the functionality of the site, it actually fails and gives us less options than there are in the site. I think the fact that there is no way to view the current popular tracks is a huge flaw, especially for a music discovery app.
I like the SoundCloud service and I’ve used it many times before, but I don’t think this app could help me with what I use the service for. For example, I can’t exactly use this app for uploading my own tracks or if I want to listen to a track that I got a link to from my Twitter feed. I like the playlist and queue features, but I don’t think they are very useful if you don’t have a functional source for new cool music.
What do you think? Have you tried SoundCloud or similar services before? What about this app?