How to Annoy People Using SoundCloud

SoundCloud is probably the best SaaS (Software as a Service) platform available to musicians to date. It is easy to use and widely accepted by music creators and music lovers alike.

But with every good thing comes an annoying a$$hole though.

At one point on this blog, I posted the “song submission” widget in the sidebar. It generated no interest, so I removed it. No big deal, it just did not seem that artists were actively sharing their songs that way.

If music bloggers were smarter, they would demand songs be sent to them via SoundCloud. I’m digressing though.

Recently, I had noticed a weird trend in my email alerts from SoundCloud. I was magically receiving a lot of followers when I was barely using the service.

It was not until I noticed the same individual was following me multiple times that I decided to investigate.

Gmail Account Packed with SoundCloud Alerts

Now the above image is hard to see, but it shows the dubious activity that triggered me to look into my recent popularity.

I do not know who “Fista Cuffs” is, but I must admit I was intrigued. I did not expect anything worthwhile, but I expected to at least get a good chuckle at his or her expense.

Then I noticed “Fista Cuffs” sent me a private track. Curious. What did I do to deserve such a treat?

Fista Cuffs SoundCloud Private Track

Wait. I am not special. This was sent to 10872 people. What are the odds that this person actually knows even 1% of these people?

My guess is 10873 to 1.

Of course, I realized what this was. It reminds me of the #TEAMFOLLOWBACK movement on Twitter. I was being conjoled into boosting this person’s social stats on a platform that wants to encourage the sharing of music, not the spamming of content.

I am not going for that. Never have; never will.

It was not until I decided to work on this blog post that I take the time to actually review the private track I was sent.

Fista Cuffs Song Not Available

Turns out “Fista Cuffs” is no longer on SoundCloud. Kudos SoundCloud!

Moral to the Story

Being an annoying a$$hole will not get you far in life. You might achieve some minor gains, but long-term you will lose. If you are truly trying to build a music career, take your time and build relationships the old-fashioned way. “Hi. My name is Lars Ulrich and I am the drummer in a band called Metallica. I love music. How about you?”

In order to get to the 1000 true fans, there are no magic tricks available. It takes time, hard work and dedication.

Numbers do not matter, if they are not actionable. If you cannot get 10% of 100 to do your bidding, what is the point? An email list is only as strong as the open rate.

You cannot game your way into being successful. It is not good to speak in definitives, so here is an exception. You can game towards success, but it is not likely you will have a stress-free life and/or have many real friends in the process. Keep that in mind.

Stop chasing numbers and stick to chasing your dreams. Who really fantasizes about having 30,000 Twitter followers or 5000 SoundCloud listens? If you do, leave me a note in the comments. I want to talk to you.

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  • http://twitter.com/michaelsb Michael Brandvold

    I ran into this same thing a few weeks back, after doing some digging I found that by default SoundCloud allows you to send private tracks to people who do not follow you. Invitation to spammers, or just bands who don’t realize this is the case. SoundCloud fail. I wrote about here http://michaelbrandvold.com/blog/2011/10/proper-etiquette-on-how-to-solicit-your-music-online/

    • http://fryinginvein.com HubertGAM

      Thanks for sharing, Mike. It is definitely a feature that SoundCloud needs to revisit, but it wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t so easy for artists to buy/steal email lists. I know artists just want to get the word out quickly, but they have to temper their desire for expediency. Seriously.
      Barring all cliches, work needs to be put in at some point. When you start a new social network and you don’t have existing ones, you need to take the time and do it right. Or else, you’ll dump it just like you’ve done past efforts.

      Again, thanks for your comment, Mike. It’s always great to hear from you!

      • Remix

        I didnt know you could steal email lists from people that is interesting, I dont see how it would work but still interesting

        • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

          That’s the thing, @disqus_OGDOsLddKw:disqus, it doesn’t really work. You will always be able to scam a few folks, but that is not sustainable. An organic audience is critical to long-term success.

          Thanks for your comment!

        • http://himynameisjenna.blogspot.com Jenna Massey

          Wow!

    • http://myspace.com/gwghergtg4g3 Becka Knight

      Agree

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  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/renevogtlowell Rene Rafael Vogt-Lowell

    Hysterical bro :-) Here’s to sharing the long term relationship-building versus short term number-chasing attitude with you. Cheers!

  • Olivier Roy

    That is human pride and vainness pushed to a surreal extreme absurdity. I get people that follow me on soundcloud that stop following me after a few hours if I don’t follow them back. How about that? Is that begging for attention or some kind of virtual medal buying?

    • http://fryinginvein.com HubertGAM

      I think it oddly constitutes both, Olivier. People are treating SoundCloud like Twitter, thinking artists care about having a bunch of followers. Thing is, the platform is not built to celebrate those with massive followers.

      • patooty jones

        its ALL about artists caring about having a bunch of followers. you fake it til you make it then you fake it more to make it look like your a big deal. you buy followers, buy plays, buy comments. its all bullshit. you cant have a platform with public statistics without corruption.

        • untz untz

          Nobody here wants it to be true, but it is. Mediocre house shit like Guetta, Aviici, or SHM is all about marketing AND contacts. Technically, the music is not hard to make. In fact, the masters sound like shit with way too much top and squashed compression. It goes hand in hand with what it’s about if u want to be heard. BE LOUD AND ANNOYING!

        • http://noellarose.com/ Noella

          Also about artists caring, feeling depressed and still refusing to fake it, haha. All mixed with the others who have that buzz, hopefully some real. I learned from years ago (before I released music) that faking it brings debt, not happiness. All I have is my self love, true inner pride, a few real peeps and food, and I’m still OK, haha.

      • http://noellarose.com/ Noella

        I think that’s changed a lot though, unfortunately. SC Go is laughable but sadly it’s what SC cares about now, that and top artists, and making big labels happy. Today, I see Bebe Rexha at the top of my SC homepage because her track is promoted. Most artists cannot even pay to get that ad, because we must first be premier or whatever. Bebe doesn’t need that boost. The label will blast her elsewhere, and I probably would’ve checked out her new stuff anyway, but now I look at that ad and feel, “UGH.”

    • http://noellarose.com/ Noella

      Seems like all vanity but no true pride, fake gains would kill me inside. That tactic’s really not helpful for the artist at all. I won’t even have time to check the music out! … Fakers won’t win long that way. On a very similar topic, I now purposefully wait a least a week on Twitter to check out people’s music because I’ve grown suspicious there even more, but SoundCloud has also gone downhill.

  • Carl

    Great article. Its those people who follow you and then delete you who are annoying too. Funny thing is I’ve seen people with 9000 followers and an average of 600 views on their tracks. This just proves the moral of your story.

    • http://fryinginvein.com HubertGAM

      Yeah, there is a lot of “follow-unfollow” on SoundCloud. It is annoying. Oh well, luckily we can cut off the alerts. Or can we?

    • http://noellarose.com/ Noella

      Ugh I hope I don’t get that, that could hurt. I see that SO much on Twitter and I’m beyond suspicious there. Soon, I’ll be fully cynical, oh no.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.greenwood.549 James Greenwood

    Couldnt have put better than that my friend! I get sent private tracks and get “followed” by at least 3 different people per day, strange that they stop following after a day or so.

  • dustin

    I do

  • deep dj

    valid point, but your discounting the amount of hard work that actually goes in to following and unfollowing thousands daily- i dont spam, but i think i get the idea and its not that bad- spam 10k people chances are according to pareto rule, 2k might listen and a further 400 might become fans– some see that as gaining 400 fans not spamming 10k- many methods to the same goal :)))

    • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

      deep dj,
      Show me the proof that the follow-unfollow work generates real fans. A lot of the follow-unfollow work is simply a demonstration of tribal gathering. When I follow people on Twitter who followed me, much of it is just to be cordial. I am most likely not paying attention to their tweets. At this point, I realize that is a waste, which I plan to repair by starting my follows from scratch.
      On SoundCloud, I take my follows seriously. If I don’t like someone’s music, I don’t want their new tunes in my SoundCloud feed.

    • http://noellarose.com/ Noella

      Become fans, really? I don’t care how great the music sounds if you tick me off or disgust me with behavior that nasty. But I keep reading on marketing sites that apparently most people are extremely different from me and absolutely fall for BS.

  • Mike Pedersen

    Funny u mention fista cuffs he is notorious for this practice – and some how has been picked up to play on a few big festivals as of late – they use the follow then unfollow ploy where as soon as u follow they unfollow you as to make an illusion that they are actually popular – sad that it seems to be working

    • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

      @mike_pedersen:disqus, I would argue there is no true correlation to Fista’s big festival to his SoundCloud numbers. We do not know what other aggressive work he or she is doing to broaden his exposure. He or she may be a decent person and know a lot of influential people. Who knows? I wouldn’t believe SoundCloud is exactly due to a particular event. Or else, these festivals are not going to be around long.

  • http://www.facebook.com/byronJblocker Byron Blocker

    I dig your post! I say something similar to people all the time about Twitter followers. It’s not the QUANTITY it’s the QUALITY of follower that counts. Nobody cares about inflated myspace numbers, it matters how many people actually care about your product and can be influenced into making a sale!

    • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

      Amen, Byron! Thanks for your reply seven months ago!

  • http://twitter.com/michaelsb Michael Brandvold

    Here is a funny story. I wrote a article about spamming your links on Twitter. This morning I had a comment waiting for me on the post… get this the comment was nothing more than a spam to go listen to some music. Some musicians will NEVER get it, and I can assure you those musicians will also NEVER make it.

    • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

      I don’t know how I hadn’t replied to this, but thanks for sharing, @twitter-3457881:disqus!

      I just had a troll hit this post the other day. I’m amazed how much traffic this post still gets. It must have gotten under people’s craws!

  • Funky person

    Good post, but i disagree in some points. Everybody knows soundcloud is pretty satured by now and it’s impossible to get some attention for your tracks unless you do something to say ‘hey i’m here, i have some nice music’.

    I do keep active presence by listening to other people track, commenting and favoriting.

    BUT i also follow and unfollow people in a daily basis. I follow only people that have similar interests than i have, and if the person does not follow me in the next 24 hours, i unfollow this person.

    I keep this daily schedule and i have excellent results, getting 1000 followers in 2 months and yes, they are organic followers that listen, comment and favorite my tracks. I don’t unfollow people that follow me back, i only unfollow who don’t follow me back. So it’s a gain x gain situation.

    So your post is very beautiful in theory, but in practice, you need to run for some recognition.

    • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

      You will do better by touching one captive person at a time. Having 1000 followers mean nothing if they are not paying attention to you. I have over 4000 followers on Twitter. Yet I post with little response. And I didn’t do any follow-unfollow business.

      If you want to have a fan base which will help you make a living, you have to put in work. It’s beyond follow-unfollow. It is about connecting with people in a real way.

      Focus on starting an email list of people who want to hear from you. Let them know you are going to be posting a new song. Then deliver the song on time. In that email, ask if they can share the song to their networks. It’s the decision of your fans to do it. You cannot control them.

      Build an empty show of success if you want. You’ll burn out as another statistic.

      • patooty jones

        its taken me 3 years to build up 10,000 followers on soundcloud. i must have given away about 150 free tracks over this period. some months i had swarms of 1,000 – 3,000 people follow me at once. its impossible to keep track of who hung around but you stil climb in numbers. following and unfollowing is a kinda petty method. promoting outside of soundcloud is the most effective way because it means you never invaded a SC users space to promote yourself. i’ve seen people signed to major labels get 10,000 followers in a week. once this happens your stats make you look impressive and more people follow you. people are like sheep, when they see impressive stats they are fooled to think the music is better than it is. mediocre with big plays means good music in the 2010’s

    • http://noellarose.com/ Noella

      Do you like music, lol? I mean, really, you like the music until that artist doesn’t QUICKLY follow you back and then you just dislike the tunes and don’t want ’em? Ugh, it just sounds too fake and maybe even lacking that love of music. Keepin’ it 100!!

      I only get tempted to unfollow when I see a full feed clogged by reposts by one user. NO! Ugh. I’ve also been unfollowing the major artists I followed back when I first signed up because then I was confused and SC told me to follow a lot, so I did, heh. I really don’t need famous artists THERE too. I actually follow blogs all about their stuff, even though some of that is in everyone’s faces all the time, haha.

      You only follow people with shared interests … is your only interest yourself??? OK, similar interests … but that doesn’t fit with that type of unfollowing.

      I do run … my own way, thanks. I don’t care if it’s zig-zag, haha.

  • IVNTWNSND

    5K, more like 5 million… good post though, it took me a year to get to 3K plays on one song, thats an average of 8 people checking the song everyday, I’m a bedroom producer making ALT.RAP, but i agree with the dream thing, go off that, not the quick get followers fame type media model. Good post!

    • http://noellarose.com/ Noella Rose

      Hey, you should make sure you’re branding yourself on Disqus. I wanted to check out your alt rap but you’ve no link! You can have your name linked, then your profile linked to your site! (Like I have.) Feel free to reply with your link!! :)

  • Ben Hinman

    I recently found out about “soundcloud bots” that let you automatically follow and unfollow thousands of people at a time. For a while my followers have been lingering around 40, and after uploading some new tracks i was excited to get to get a new one every day. Today i just hit 50, then 51. And then 47. And then i realized the followers i was losing hadn’t even listened to my tracks anyway, they were just using bots to try and get followers back. It makes me wonder if all of THEIR followers are just doing the same thing, and the real joke is on them. As for me, i’d rather have 5-10 people make genuinely interested comments on my track then 1000 people follow me and ignore my music altogether.

    • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

      Amen, Ben. Build those fans one at a time.

      You can help increase your followers by connecting with your fans and thanking them for listening to your material. Then encourage them to share the songs they like the most. You will get a percentage of those to do that. Keep engaging and providing value. Eventually, you will hit a tipping point where the listens and shares will be on auto-pilot!

  • Lex

    this post was pointless.
    seriously. its the internet.
    expect spam.
    as a PR manager, my job is to promote, I do not spam people, but I know plenty of upcoming artists trying to make a name for themselves using very ineffective techniques… Not a big deal, especially like you claim, everything was resolved before you even had chance to mention it to Soundcloud…

    • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

      “expect spam.”

      That’s the most ridiculous advice I have heard on the internet in quite some time. You might as well say, “expect cancer” as if there’s nothing people can do about it.

      I should delete this post, but I won’t. I want people to see there are idiots of all kinds on the earth. In fact, this makes my first troll, which is kind of cool.

    • http://noellarose.com/ Noella Rose

      SoundCloud hardly takes care of current/past spam, really. They delete accounts but I have to actively tend to the messages or they stay “as new,” even when accounts were deleted before I saw the message. Annoying. SC messages are getting to be like Twitter DMs.

  • Random Dude

    $hit will get you to the top but won’t keep you there. As a dorm room producer in college with no equipment other than $55 dollars, FL Studio, and some additive/subtractive synthesizers, what better way to both get feedback and online publicity than follow spamming? Every time I upload a song, I spam about 500 people. I get about 100 plays for that, some support, and much needed comments on how to improve. Moreover, I have been approached by several record companies on Beatport (which I follow-spammed) who listened to my tracks.

    My point is, considering my budget, how else do you advocate me promoting myself or getting out there? Should I just buy a $1200 speaker set and start DJ’ing as though that’s feasible at the moment? I don’t even have a place to keep DJ equipment, nor a vehicle. Yes, I completely agree that follow spamming people is naive, rude, and rather pointless, but… Fact 1: I am getting publicity for it. Fact 2: I don’t see very many other promotion options. If you feel this is wrong, don’t tell me off, suggest how I as a house music producer should feasibly get myself out there, and I’ll give up follow spamming and try that instead.

    • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

      Considering you are on my blog challenging me with no link to your SoundCloud or even a name I can search, I should stop right here. Yet I can make a point from this.

      You want to know how you can feasibly get yourself out there? Don’t be a coward; show yourself.

      If you want to make it as a house music producer, you are going to need more than SoundCloud listens. If people have no way on getting to know you, then you’re nobody.

      The house producers who are making a living have friends. They touch flesh; they build with like-minded folk. Sure, building with labels who release records on Beatport might be cool, but there are hundreds of labels. Let’s be honest. Only a few really matter. Are YOU building with them?

      Leave your dorm room. Build a real life profile. Find people with real audiences and get chummy. Maybe they’ll slide you a bone and play your music. Maybe people will like the track. If you’re smart, you’ll be prepared to capitalize on the additional relationships you will gain from such work.

      See, what you want is a “get famous quick” scheme. I don’t supply those. You aren’t really willing to do the work. Yet you don’t want me to tell you off. And you know how funny that is, so I’ll leave it there.

      • patooty jones

        “The house producers who are making a living have friends. They touch flesh; they build with like-minded folk.” not true at all! this is what the power of the internet is. you are taking this to the extreme now. you can reach far more people without touching flesh Hubert. i can release a free download and reach 90 countries. with 2,000 downloads i can make more people dance than i could selling a track on a digital store!

        2,000 dj’s playing my track in clubs world wide is much better than me getting ego boosts from hanging out with people being polite to my face but not really liking my music.

        you need to relax on this “build a solid fanbase 1 by 1” thing.

        i agree using lame tactics makes you a dead give away for a loser but man at the end of the day it all comes down to how good your music is. if your music is crap NOTHING will work. you can fake it til you make it and keep faking it but in the end it wont be satisfying. your music will need to be at the very least mediocre and generic for you to pull it off.

        • http://noellarose.com/ Noella Rose

          I dance more to artists I actively search for in Spotify than to tracks (often without proper metadata, sigh, that’s only OK with WAV files) I just get free and store in my iTunes.

          I don’t hate having physical copies, and sometimes I buy CDs. This is about the want and curiosity. Actually thinking I might give a flip and keep following for more, put you in my playlists, etc.

          Imagine comparing that to someone who actually wanted to pay and did. That’s definitely something, and on the other side each downloader is only a maybe, a question mark. Just don’t knock that, is what I’m saying here.

          If I notice spammy stuff going on, that one track may be all I ever hear.

          BTW, this is coming from a computer dork who barely socializes (or networks) out of the home, hahaha.

    • patooty jones

      nah you are hemorrhaging possibilities, you don’t know where the 100 plays are coming from, you cant make this assumption. i’d say your music is not good enough to have hit any virality. part of the problem today is like you said, a guy gets some cheap software and sits in his room thinking he is ready to get big in the industry. beatport is a great example of saturated shit, 999 out of 1000 labels are absolute rubbish and they are dealing with this problem too. follow spamming is not even spamming. its fishing, unless they are curious enough to take the bait you wont have them even blink at your presence. also assuming you buy a set of speakers and now you are a dj? man you sound really naive.

      fact 1: you are not getting publicity, fact 2: exactly, you have no idea what you are doing.

      your options are to make better music, watch what happens. promote outside of soundcloud in other social media platforms. buy a soundcloud account so you can send your tracks to multiple groups (house music groups in your case) and give up the follow fishing.

  • FU

    This is bullshit. The only way to get anywhere in life is to fuck over everybody you can. Stomp on everyone in your way and fuck over anyone you can to make it. This world rewards only cruelty and greed. If you don’t but into it, you get left behind or stomped out of existence.

  • Remix

    great blog post, you bring up alot of valid points to think about it

    • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed.

  • Ricciardo

    i follow only people i have interest in ear, about 20 people, i would like to discover more artists but its dificult to find genuine good staff in soundcloud in the middle of an ocean of miserable and avarage quality music… and i dont have much time to search, about the spamm, its a bit anoying, specialy when people share tracks with you without caring who you are, just for the matter of spamming, for thouse people i block them imediatly and report spamm, they dont deserv other actions, wannabe artists, pseudo-labels etc etc, many types of idiots do it… other kind of tactic i have been noticing is even more anoying, wich is people who dont follow or coment, they “like” your music, without earing anything… per example, there is people wich have 723012 likes, wich make you wonder, how come they eard so many tracks? even if they were earing music during 24h per day, they couldnt ear all of them, so obviously they spamm likes to make others sympaty or simply go to their page for curiosity…

    Its really a shame what music world as becomed, in the old days there were fame seekers, there allways be some… but today its worse, many non-talented people that dont input much effort into music is really trying to make use of social networks and overal industry crysis to build a career, while decent talented artists who more likely are synth neards and the type of people who isolate more to have time to create things, do not have the cake piece they deserve… its really a pity, specialy because the market of sales doesnt translate quality also, its everything fake this days, Beatport started to ban some artists because they were buying their own music to climb charts and have more fame and gigs..

    i guess at some point in the future music will need to re-gain some kind of balance between quality and proffit, right now its not about that…

    • http://fryinginvein.com/ Hubert Sawyers III

      You’re so right. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Arnoud van Lieshout

    Internet is fake anyway.. likefacebook.. and so on…… reality is gone

  • http://koestiek.tumblr.com Michel Labruyere

    Hey there! Great story, I started googling after suddenly a lot more people started to follow me on soundcloud. I had an increase of 50 followers in 4 days, which is a lot for a learning producer like me who just wants to share his music so it can get heard and commented on. Somehow the increase doesn’t match my number of plays (numbers, numbers, numbers).

    Also, I really agree with you on the matter that followers should be “earned” on the basis of what you produce. I want it to be real people who actually listen to what I’m making. It is really difficult to get your tracks heard, I agree, since there’s so much different artist out there who all want to get their tracks played. But people please, let’s stay serious and follow someone because you like the music they are producing.

  • realist

    you mad bro?

  • Xander

    Having a hard time in Soundcloud as people seem to always expect me to make a track or two every week even when I update that I have life to do. things come up and they just unfollow me because I can’t make another track for a few weeks. It’s annoying.

  • Amy Lynn