SoundCloud has been good to me. I discovered a lot of amazing artists and music on SoundCloud. A lot of my favorite artists started off on SoundCloud, with almost no following, and are now performing at events at Coachella / EDC as headliners.

I love using SoundCloud but I don’t love how bad the product is. And sadly, the product is not growing like it should be.

First, let’s look at a competitor, Spotify: the app is well-made. It makes me want to pay for the premium membership. The increased audio quality and access to premium albums are just bonuses to my loyalty. Let’s face it: Spotify deserves the money. (Maybe not as much as its valuation, but you get my point).

(Edit: I updated the UI to the latest one in 2017 to keep this post relevant)

Without getting too technical, the UI is sleek, modern and clean. The typography is spot-on (everything is easily legible). The hierarchy (arrangement of elements) is appropriate, and the icons are designed well. It makes me happy to use the application! be nit-picky, the album art position is somewhat awkward (wish it could be part of the player but the dimension does not fit I guess…food for thought), but besides that I would say it exceeds my expectation.

The friends feature on the right also works well, and I could easily follow friends’ playlists, see what they’re listening to and also collaborate on playlists with my friends. The social aspect of it is really functional and I have the ability to enjoy a lot of good music with my friends.

Now let’s look at SoundCloud:

Being a web app is not an excuse. The design is definitely a notch below Spotify’s.

There’s also a lot of unused space on the left and on the right. Admittedly, maybe they didn’t want to clutter it and wanted to keep it simple.

Instead of being able to access my playlists from the home screen, I need to take multiple navigational steps. To add, playlists are not collaborative and unintuitive: creating a playlist, and adding music to it is a hassle. They recently added a listening history feed in 2017, but this is private (why not give user the option to show/hide this).

Anyway, I could go on and on…but honestly, my complaints start from the little things but overall it divulges an underlying issue with the platform: the company is bad at changing.

For example, in November 2016, SoundCloud hid the repost button for some strange reason, pissed off a bunch of users, and reverted the design back. It’s almost peculiar how this happened in 2016 where there’s so many ways to technologically verify user feedback before rolling it out to everyone.

SoundCloud has changed its UI slowly in recent months but there hasn’t been a major change in a while.  Anyway, maybe my suggestions don’t align with the company’s vision. But I’m going to make them anyway.


      1. Make listening to music easier! Browsing through music takes way too much time. I know the waveform is a signature SoundCloud UI. But is there a point in making all the waveform and album art so big? I want to be able to see more than 3~4 songs on my screen at a time. Is there a way to add filters to my feed? As much as I love the people I follow, I don’t sometimes feel like listening to progressive house music. But my friend just re-posted 15 songs by David Guetta. Do I really have to scroll through my feed to skip them?Below is a basic mockup, using Balsamiq, adding some basic filters. I didn’t change the main UI for the music because I haven’t discussed with a designer on the ideal way of presentation. But all I know is that the current one is not optimal.


  • The social aspect is horrifying. There are so many collectives and groups (Soulection, B&L, etc..) these days. Do I really have to login to a different account to add music to this collective account? Why can’t I just get access as an admin of a group? Why can’t I share what kind of music I’m listening to by liking music using my account, connected to this collective account? Do I really have to go to all of my friends’ accounts to see what they like? Also, reposts needs a major overhaul. Why does one person reposting the same song after someone else override it? Why not aggregate the usernames of everyone that reposted it, like Twitter?



  • Make SoundCloud Go more worth it. Yes, I use SoundCloud everyday, but I still have no temptation to use SoundCloud Go. I use Spotify to listen to music that’s also available on SoundCloud Go. There has to be better unique premium features that only SoundCloud can offer. Make partnership connections with SoundCloud artists (producers that became famous on SoundCloud). Maybe they can offer some sort of critique for users or answer a question for users. Spotify definitely can’t do this! Communicate more with your users, like a smaller company that Spotify isn’t and have more partnership engagements! Stop trying to make money by becoming just like Spotify.



  • Add more ways to generate revenue. Songs that are ads right now are completely irrelevant to what I’m listening to. SoundCloud’s AI is actually horrible. The discover and recommendation tools do not work, and I usually dislike all my suggested tracks.  My guess is that on SoundCloud, I usually listen to all kinds of music from all kinds of artists. I don’t use SoundCloud to listen to Kanye West. I use it to discover good music from producers I’m not familiar with. If you use ALL of my listening history and use some sort of artists comparison algorithm like Spotify does, it won’t work. ANYWAY, Ads that are related to what I’m listening to will grab my interest and will more likely generate revenue. It’s a worthy investment to improve the AI. My suggestion? Analyze key, chord progressions and song structure, instruments, quality of songs that I liked. Find similar songs better! 





It almost sounds so stupid to make the above suggestions. Some of them are so basic. It’s possible none of them align with SoundCloud’s visions and revenue strategy. I don’t have the analytics data but I’m certain that the current strategy is not really working for SoundCloud. The mishap of the repost button also shows that there is some internal challenge.

SoundCloud’s strength is its user-base. ANY user can upload music and have a LOT of people to listen to it. That’s extremely powerful. The platform provides validation for a lot of no-name producers, and there’s a lot of value to that. It also probably has the most number of tracks compared to many of its competitors.

Anyway, I apoligize if my suggestions sound stupid. I wrote them in five minutes with a lot of rage. I could definitely polish them in a more technical way but this isn’t technically a technical post so…..

SOUNDCLOUD! Utilize your strengths! Good luck!