#mamusicind MED7201 Week 1: The innovators?

Below is a brief case study of an online enterprise that is related to my own area of study, the music industries.

In short, I will try to highlight why I think this online enterprise is innovative, why the internet lends itself as an ideal space for this enterprise to operate, as well as some key strengths and weaknesses this specific online enterprise has.

For this first weeks assignment I have chosen to focus on one of my favourite online music services, Mixcloud. It was founded in 2008 by four Cambridge graduates who all had a passion radio, problem solving and building exciting projects. I became a member of the site in 2009 and at that moment in time, there seemed to be a gap in the online world for a website that was not just more angled towards DJs, people who made radio shows and podcasts, and people who wanted an on-demand service to be able to access that content, but also, one that was free and easy to use and that made  it easy to share and distribute audio content in a good looking and user friendly way. Mixcloud was and is exactly all those things.

Have a look at the video below that briefly explains what Mixcloud is all about:

As the video explains, Mixcloud is a website that functions as an on-demand audio service where people, both professionals and amateurs, can upload their own mixes, podcasts and radio shows for free, share and promote them on both the site and other different platforms, as well as listen to other peoples uploaded content.

MY MIXCLOUD


As a user, you have your own profile (like my own above) where all your uploaded content, also known as cloudcasts, are collected. You have a picture and some blurb, and people can also see what other cloudcasts you have listened to (under “Listens”), what cloudcasts you have favourited (under “Favorites”), people can look at playlists you have created from cloudcasts from around the site (I have two), they can see what groups you are part of (under “Groups”), see your activity on the site (under “Activity” where they see everything from listens to comments to messages on other peoples profiles etc) and of course, write you a message (under “Messages”) and see what users you are following (under “Following”).

MY CLOUDCAST

Individual cloudcasts have a name, an image, some info about the cloudcast, tags, a tracklist that will include buy links to either Amazon, iTunes or Juno Download and a comments field. You can also favorite the cloudcast by pressing the heart, adding it to a new or existing playlist by pressing the plus sign or customise a widget that is embeddable on blogs, websites etc.

MY DISCOVERIES
As a user you can discover music and other types of audio in many different ways and below are a few examples of how you can discover new music cloudcasts, as well as new users to follow:

Categories – you have both music and talk categories that feature some of the most recent and popular cloudcasts from user that fit a specific category

Your personal dashboard that shows the most recent activity of the users that you follow

Hot cloudcasts – the most popular cloudcasts of the moment on Mixcloud

Tags (I chose Jazz) – they can be found on an individual cloudcast page or by searching the site


Artist (I chose Archie Shepp) – they can be found on an individual cloudcast page on the tracklist or by searching the site

The choices just seem endless and what is even better if you are a music fan is that there are tracklists so you can go off and discover more from the artists that you like, as well as the functionality to time stamp mixes which seems to help enabling the buy link which means that you can buy the songs you are listening to. Below is an example of how Juno Download is integrated with Mixcloud:

SHARING IS CARING!
The website makes it very easy to share not just the cloudcasts but things like your profile, your playlists and so on. You can tweet, facebook, google+ links, or you can embed widgets on your blog, website, tumblr etc. You can connect things like your Facebook, Twitter, Mixlr and Last.FM accounts to your profile so it automatically shares things like uploads, listens, favorites and so on, and if you’re in real need of people seeing your podcast, you can but promotional slots around the site.

SO WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
I think it is fair to say that without the internet, it would have been close to impossible to create such a network of not just professional and amateur DJs and Radio/Podcast presenters, but the amount of audio content that Mixcloud has. It’s accessible to anybody around the globe who as internet on a computer, tablet or mobile phone. It is free to use and it is a legal way of sharing, discovering and promoting audio content.

I think it is great that there is a functionality that enables users to by the music that they hear, but I think it is a shame that only three major outlets are available through that functionality (Amazon, iTunes and Juno), so in my personal opinion it would be good to have an option for some smaller online retailers that offer downloads such as Boomkat for example. I know it is an online business, but another feature I think the buy functionality is lacking is the option of buying physical records.

An other aspect that I think could be greatly improved is analytics. At the moment, as a user I can’t really access much information about who listens to my cloudcasts, how many times one user has listened to a specific cloudcast, for how long they listened, where they listened and so on. It would be great to have a bit more information apart from just followers, plays, favourites, tweets and shares.

And without getting carried away, that’s it… in a nutshell.

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