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SoundCloud 2020 Review: A Love/Hate Relationship

SoundCloud logo

In this article I will analyze SoundCloud as of January 28th, 2020 as a longtime user of the platform. I’m not some huge artist, so I can only give the perspective of the features I use as well as from the vantage point of what is probably your typical user. So without any further introduction, let’s analyze!

What We Love

Free

Who doesn’t like free things? The fact that you can sign up for SoundCloud and within a few minutes broadcast your music to the world is insane. This fundamental aspect of the platform is a huge reason why it is successful in retaining and adding new users. For musicians, bands, and artists of any audio medium, SoundCloud is a great choice for hosting your content for consumption.

Some would complain that under SoundCloud’s free tier they only get 180 minutes (3 hours) of upload time. But we can’t fault SoundCloud for limiting free tier users to this allocation limit. It’s free! And they’re hosting millions of audio files for free! They have to draw a line somewhere. Let’s be thankful this is even still an option. We love this about SoundCloud.

Pro & Pro Unlimited

Want more upload time? Try a pro account and get double the upload time of that of a free tier account (6 hours total). Oh, you want no cap? Get a Pro Unlimited account and have no cap at all!

Now, I won’t bore you with all of the details on the differences between a pro and pro unlimited account, after all you can just compare here – https://help.soundcloud.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003568408-Learn-about-our-Pro-plans.

Nonetheless, there are some great features packed into the Pro tier plans.

Statistics

For example, I have a Pro Unlimited account. I’ll show you my (low, but growing) statistics so that you can see the insight SoundCloud provides users with this plan.

SoundCloud Pro Unlimited Statistics User Interface [part 1]
Notice that this image, and the following are for “Plays” … the relevant stats change depending on your selector (Plays, Likes, Reposts, Comments, or Downloads; this is modified by the date range you select as seen in the top right of the interface).

Scrolling down I see more stats:

SoundCloud Pro Unlimited Statistics User Interface [part 2]
This one seems self-explanatory, Top Played Tracks and Audience/Location.

And yet more statistics as I scroll down:

SoundCloud Pro Unlimited Statistics User Interface [part 3]
How did the users find me via SoundCloud and via playlists or albums?

Finally the last section as I scroll down a bit more:

SoundCloud Pro Unlimited Statistics User Interface [part 4]
This section is especially interesting if you’re interested in knowing where your listeners found your SoundCloud profile from.

The main thing that has been helpful for me with the stats is being able to see what people are listening too. If you have listeners who do not like or comment, but do indeed listen to your music, you can start to glean what people are interested in and cater your content to your stats.

Discovery

The ability for you to be discovered, and the ability for you to discover new music on SoundCloud really is limitless.

Lil Nas X was basically discovered over night via his release of “Old Town Road” on SoundCloud.

Connections

The ability to make meaningful connections on SoundCloud is awesome. Whether it’s just making a new friend by leaving a comment on a track, making a connection to a music label, or finding a new podcast to listen to the tools to communicate on SoundCloud are there to support you making connections.

The ability to private message, leave comments, like uploads, and follow creators you care about allows you to make those connections.

For example, as of recent I discovered a new artist on SoundCloud – Veridium. I genuinely like this guy’s music and mixes. We’ve since followed each other and have sent each other a few messages back and forth. You should check his music out – https://soundcloud.com/jerri-mperdempes

Here’s my favorite mix of his:

Collaboration

Want to collaborate with someone but don’t know anyone to work with? Start asking artists on SoundCloud! Again, you can find all skill levels, all genres, and types of people to work with on the platform if you really try.

For example, I recently finished a side project up for another website I co-founded called devjams.com where I collaborated with 5 other SoundCloud artists.

Here are some of the conversations I had with some of the artists from the project I just mentioned:

SoundCloud Private Message User-Interface [example 1]

And another:

SoundCloud Private Message User-Interface [example 2]

What We Hate

Broken Comment Statistics

To clarify, I need to explain where the system for comments “breaks”. If a user comments on one of your uploads, and that user is deleted or you block them (and you indicate to remove their likes/comments upon blocking them) the comment counter stat is not reduced for that upload on your public profile. What do I mean? Let me show you an example on my profile.

Example of broken comment counter on public SoundCloud profile.
The public stats for comments is reporting 1 comment. Do you see any comments on the track? Nope!

Tags Seem Useless

Not entirely, but under certain circumstances tags do seem useless. This is more the case when you create your own user defined tag. Again let me you an example.

I created a user-defined tag of “OriginalWorks” as seen below:

Example of SoundCloud user-defined tags.
Notice the red arrow pointing to my user-defined tag called “OriginalWorks”. What happens when I click on that tag? No results, that’s what happens.

So when I click on that tag I get the following:

Example of SoundCloud user-defined tags not working [image 1].
No tracks with “OriginalWorks” tag.
Example of SoundCloud user-defined tags not working [image 2].
No playlists with “OriginalWorks” tag.

Bots

I’ll be honest I don’t even know how this one could be fixed… but it is super annoying nonetheless.

If you haven’t seen this specific bot network before, then I doubt you’re a regular user of SoundCloud. Which bot service am I talking about? Yeap, you guessed it – soundviral.com

soundviral.com logo - I do not endorse this company/service - in fact, I loathe them.
These annoying bastards will flood you with any upload telling you how much you rock… and how much more you could rock if you bought fake followers through their bot service.

Compression

I must say SoundCloud within the past year or so seems to be getting better at not compressing, or introducing artifacts into your uploads. With a pro unlimited account I no longer worry too much about this as I can upload HD files such as wavs with the upper tier account type. But free users do report this fairly often. I only mention this in passing – they;re getting better. I guess I mention it just to say, hey, SoundCloud, make sure you’re always putting a priority on this topic.

Conclusion

Are there other things I could talk about? Oh for sure, but this is just a subjective view of the SoundCloud platform. These are the big things that, to me, are what make me have a love/hate relationship with SoundCloud as a whole.

How Diablo II captivated a generation.

The Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Hero Characters

What was it about Diablo II that captivated an entire generation of pc gamers? Even as of the time of this writing (2019), logging into the U.S. East servers reveal a few thousand active players at any given time, with hundreds of public games to join. Now a legend, Diablo II has become the defining video game to showcase how an action RPG hack ‘n slash is supposed to be done.

Blizzard North

Blizzard North

Blizzard North was originally a third party development team (Condor) and were not originally a “part of the [Blizzard] family” according to Diablo II senior producer Bill Roper. The company was headed by president at the time David Brevik, and vice presidents and brothers Erich Schaefer and Max Schaefer. However, the company was eventually acquired by Blizzard and became known as Blizzard North (as their office resided in northern California). Brevik ran the company from 1993 to 2003, during which time Blizzard North was virtually sovereign from their parent company, Blizzard.

Low Level of Entry

Logitech Mouse

CLICK! CLICK! The average computer user can install Diablo II and start slaying demons. Every action in the game can be accomplished solely with a mouse. The pc hack ‘n slash genre was born with Diablo I, but perfected with Diablo II’s mindless clicking to vanquish demons. According to Roper this was by design to make the Diablo trilogy as accessible as possible to players.

Battle.Net

This is Diablo II’s Battle.net interface.
An improvement over Diablo I’s chunky and dry interface.

Diablo I was released at the end of 1996 and showcased for the first time Battle.net. D1’s interface was clunky compared to its new interface in Diablo II. But at the time of Diablo’s first debut, Battle.net was a hit. Gamers played cooperatively (pve), deathmatch/team deathmatch (pvp), and chat in-game over a standard TCP/IP protocol Blizzard North developed and unleashed Battle.net to the world at the very end of 1996.

Once Battle.net was upgraded with Diablo II, all hell broke loose. A clean way to find, create, and search for public and private games made the online community surge.

According to Roper, the idea for Battle.Net came about in E3 of 1996 and a ton of work went into perfecting Battle.net both from its inception, and its later update with Diablo II.

Gameplay & Story

Diablo has always put an emphasis on developing its story through gameplay. Diablo II’s gameplay and story has been enhanced by its state of the art (at least for the time) integrated cinematics. Showing the wandering traveler on his journey against the Prime Evils.

Diablo put the emphasis on the player to develop their hero character in every respect. Taking a metric ton of elements from Dungeons & Dragons, the player had a few options when it came to developing their character. As one would advance in the game, their character would level up. As their character would level up, stat points and skill points were allotted to the player to spend for reaching their new rank. This allowed the player to “build” their character.

The Classes

Diablo 2 Characters

Rather than get lost in details, I recommend just picking up a copy of Diablo II with the expansion (Lord of Destruction) and playing the game. Diablo II came with 5 playable character classes (Paladin, Barbarian, Necromancer, Sorceress, and Amazon), and two additional character classes in the Lord of Destruction expansion (Assassin and Druid).

Necromancer in Diablo II
A necromancer in Diablo II showing off his legion army of skeleton warriors.

As time went on, various “builds” started to become popular. The amount of builds on the internet were in the hundreds and possibly thousands, some cookie cutter, while other builds where experimental in nature. Diablo II perfected giving the player enough choice so that decisions actually mattered, but enough limitation so that the player could always see direction with their build.

The Loot

Diablo 2 Loot

Players would grind for hours to level their character. But with the grind came loot. Diablo II’s loot system was implemented with granularity in respect to how often certain items and types of items would drop, which enemy types could drop certain types of items, which locations could drop which items as well as other factors such as the players current “magic find” attribute value. The higher a player’s “magic find”(mf for short) the higher chance they had at finding better items.

In Diablo II, players who joined public games via the Battle.net service, would find that fast clicking paid off when it came to snatching loot. Unlike many arpg’s and mmo’s today, when loot “dropped” it was first come first serve. In other words, if an item dropped on the ground, whoever picked the item up first got the item and the other players were out of luck.

This type of loot system arched Diablo II’s player community to be somewhat stingy. People would steal items, and generally it was a good idea to not trust anyone on battlenet unless you actually knew them in real life, or had played with them for an extended period of time (months to years).

Runewords

With the expansion Lord of Destruction came runewords. Items which were socketed could have runes injected into them. If runes of specific types were put into socketable items, in specific orders, runewords would be created.

Ebotdz Runeword

Recipes were a source of mystery, but to the general public’s knowledge, all runewords have been discovered and cataloged by the writing of this post.

The Secret Cow Level

The legend of the Secret Cow Level is all to familiar to avid fans of Diablo. Just get yourself a Town Portal Tome and Wart’s Leg, and combine the two itemswith the Horadric Cube in Act 1 Rogue Encampment… and slay some cows.

The Secret Cow Level

Conclusion

This article could be quadruple its size and still not cover everything. Many details have been missed in terms of what makes Diablo II such a great video game. However, the intent of this article was to remain as objective as possible. What made Diablo II such a success? Blizzard North, low level of entry, Battle.Net (revamp), the new and refined classes, the new loot, runewords, and the Secret Cow Level (don’t kill the king!).