I remember walking along the seafront, back in the mid 1990's, trying to explain these things called 'mp3s' to a few non technical friends. Attempting to explain that here's a way to fit an 'acceptable' quality version of an audio track into something that would fit on a couple of floppy disks. How important it was that the size was small enough to be transferable within an 'acceptable' timeframe, and that most people really didn't care for CD-quality (most of them still using cassette tape for Cars, Walkman's etc).
I remember saying this will really change things, that I wasn't sure how the music industry would cope with their content becoming available in the same way software was, with all the positives and negatives that brought with it.
Well.. here we are.. almost 20 years later, and there has been Winamp, Napster, Peer2Peer, Lawsuits, iTunes, YouTube... we're currently in a time where we are able to share information with millions of people, just by making a blog post, like this one.. so I figured I'd try hosting some of my music, and was a little surprised by the process.
First I tried hosting using blogger, since I'm here already, and I know it can upload videos, and images, I figured it would do audio as well.. oddly not. Maybe they are too worried about people uploading hoards of ripped cds, or sharing the current top ten as blog posts ;-)
Next I try YouTube, at least if I get it there, I can link it from here.. but no, foiled again, YouTube only likes videos. Yes I realise that's kind of apparent in its name, but I guess I considered it more as a media hosting site, maybe they let me create a video with an mp3 ? although they have some sort of slideshow creator, it seemed I would need to set the same image, by hand repeatedly until my audio finished.. not ideal.
So I find a 3rd party website that will combine a jpeg & an mp3, and create a 'video'. With a little effort I could write something similar, but it does the job.. I get the video online, and get the link to the blog post.
Then I discover SoundCloud via twitter, used by another piano player to share a bit they had played. I experimented, found you could embed their player into a blog post (albeit via direct html copy-paste), and it looked pretty nice.
I check google for other audio hosting, and there's plenty out there, mainly in vein of rapidshare, yes they host audio, but the story stops there, usually you just get a link to the hosted file.
A week or so after publishing the post, I look back at the statistics, Blogger lets me see all sorts of detail, number of views per post, where links come in from, vague statistics on which countries are reading me, I like that, it's nice to know if twitter instantly causes people to read insane ramblings, or if they arrive via a direct link..
YouTube offers statistics on par with Blogger, with format specific bits, like 'most watched segment of a video', I can see a few people found the video on YouTube without coming in via the blog.
Soundcloud tells me how many people have listened to each track, per week. For any further information, I have to hand over cash. Now I understand they have a business to run, but when faced with competition like YouTube/Blogger, although I really like their player widget, I'm not going to give money for stats I get free everwhere else.
Doing that would be like choosing to go to the only shopping center that charged for parking, when the same shops existed in others right next to it, with the exact same prices, and free parking. Ok, the first shopping center may have nicer plants, but I can buy a cheeseburger at either, so I'll just stop using the expensive one.
So, I suspect although Soundcloud likes the idea of monetizing the statistics model, in this case, it's going to drive away at least one of the people they were aiming the idea at. An interesting business model for a site that relies on external content.
If you know any other good audio hosting sites, with statistics, etc.. I'd love to know about them =)