SoundCloud Next Wave captures shift in music trends, reflects change in streaming platform
SoundCloud ‘Next Wave’ captures shift in music trends, reflects change in streaming platform
A new wave has broken on the shores of the music industry. This wave has people wanting to literally jump on board, but this time, in the form of a sound wave, discovering music while surfing the internet.
SoundCloud is capitalizing on the idea of ‘the wave’ with new series, Next Wave, a YouTube video series featuring new and upcoming big-names that embodies youth subculture and rebellion against conventional sound.
In music, “the wave” has transcended as terminology to describe current trends in the industry. Folk/Americana music that resurged in 2011 is transforming into indie/acoustic music made in people’s bedrooms. “Trap” rappers are becoming this century’s rockstars. Music is more accessible than ever, easily uploaded and accessed through music streaming platforms like SoundCloud, Spotify and Band Camp where discovery of similar artists and tools for creativity are prioritized. SoundCloud aims at deconstructing these trends in their newly released series.
Next Wave first took to the streets of Los Angeles (LA), where they delved into the suburbs where the goth-rap scene is taking root. Musicians such as Fat Nick, Pouya and Lil Tracy are some major players in this scene. The series highlights how Pouya transformed from his modest start. He now has 5.98 million listens on SoundCloud alone to his song 1000 Rounds.
The “degenerate generation”, based on the title of the first Next Wave video, has found their place on SoundCloud. According to a SoundCloud statement, the degenerate generation gravitated to a sound that “has not slowed down since the first goth rap hashtag surfaced on SoundCloud in 2010.” SoundCloud’s series portrays how artists have succeeded using their collaborative platform and where music is heading.
The names featured in Next Wave and on the SoundCloud's top 100 artists “represents a change in the relationship between musicians and fans,” said Megan West, SoundCloud Vice President of Content Relations. “Through the high speed of communication online the paradigm has shifted where massive underground followings can form organically overnight without traditional marketing…It reinforces our view that what’s next in music is on SoundCloud now.”
Frankie Denham, known by his 6,000 SoundCloud followers in the emo-rap scene by the moniker Foreign Forest, spoke with me via SoundCloud about the idea of the old norm versus the new scene.
“As more clones develop new sounds are sought after and eventually…come to the table,” Denham said. “It is hard to predict where we’ll go from here, we might dig up a style from the past and revive it like we usually do.”
This exemplifies how the old norm ends up being recycled into the new status quo. Denham expanded, stating what he likes most about SoundCloud is “how inviting it is to most newcomers and how easy it is to gain exposure on the platform,” Denham said.
Next Wave documents how SoundCloud influences this cooperation process, with its site being accessible to newcomers but exclusive enough for established artists. Many SoundCloud artists hold this same sentiment, enjoying the camaraderie.
“[I’ve watched] the scene for a while now…a major key you learn is to observe what wave is currently happening and how can you use relevance in your music to relate to people of the time,” Denham said. “At the current state of SoundCloud and the emo/trap… scene [it’s] changing.”
An important aspect, he notes, is how watching a current wave happening and staying on top of that can bring “relevance” to your own music as well while respecting where music has come from.
Musicians honor classic songs by sampling them in their beats or acoustic projects, but now, remixes and beat tapes are preferred over classic hip-hop and rock when it comes purely to number of streams alone. SoundCloud charts suggest trap artists reap over 1 million plays, with top track streamed at the moment being “rockstar”, a trap song featuring Post Malone and 21 Savage.
“I love the accessibility [SoundCloud] generates for anyone creating music. I think emo trap… is constantly evolving — just in the last year it’s turned into a huge scene that used to be super… underground… more artists are popping up that are changing the game completely,” said Caspr, an up-and-coming emo-trap SoundCloud artist.
Marciel, known as 93FEETOFSMOKE, first started producing music on Ableton, a music production technology. As an artist that found his success through SoundCloud, he commends the platform for its accessibility to new artists
“Record labels are going to lose the complete control that they've had over artists in the past. Producers and engineers are also going to get more shine than they ever have… You don't have to sign a deal anymore,” Marciel said.
The series is sponsored by Toyota and this highlights the main way SoundCloud, like Twitter and YouTube, earns revenue — through sponsors and advertisements. According to their site, “Every time you see or hear an ad, artists get paid. Occasional advertising on our platform allow us to continue to support artists and keep SoundCloud free for listeners."
SoundCloud almost went bankrupt and offline earlier this year, but with support from Chance the Rapper and the global merchant bank, The Raine Group, they landed back on their feet. Many artists on SoundCloud believe that the series comes as a direct result of a newly driven SoundCloud.
Building excitement for the series, Sound Cloud hosted a concert previewing first-week acts Lil Tracy and Fat Nick, as well as DJ Soraya LaPread. The remaining episodes will document the underground music scene (across all genres) in Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, New York, London and Berlin. Each episode aims to uncover the influential shifts and trends across music. The Next Wave series is a microcosm of the global music trends today.
Perhaps Fat Nick puts it best in episode one of Next Wave, “We’ve created a whole new scene. We created it and gave other people platforms so they can like surf the wave, like, ‘here, go take your board and surf it.’ Like we made a wave.”
The Next Wave series debuted July 20. SoundCloud will continue to release episodes through the end of the year. The series has over one million views.
Works Cited and Links To Interviewed Artists’ Profiles
93FEETOFSMOKE. (n.d.). Retrieved November 07, 2017, from https://soundcloud.com/93feetofsmoke
"Caspr." SoundCloud. Accessed November 06, 2017. https://soundcloud.com/caspr.
Foreign forest. (n.d.). Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://soundcloud.com/foreignforest
S. (n.d.). SoundCloud. Retrieved November 07, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChvgKLo-q2GXzsJBL4gubbw
"SoundCloud Explores Underground Music Scenes in Mini-docuseries, SoundCloud Next Wave." SoundCloud newsroom. Accessed November 06, 2017. http://press.soundcloud.com/156952-soundcloud-explores-underground-music-scenes-in-mini-docuseries-so
The FADER. (n.d.). Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://soundcloud.com/fadermedia
Statement of Audience Awareness
This feature article covers an up-to-date story about the most current topic in SoundCloud Headquarters and beyond. Although lengthy, I believe the word count is needed in order to address quotes and interviews from important members in the music scene. It focuses in on SoundCloud’s new Next Wave video series and explores music across different cities. The primary objective of this article is to make the audience of readers aware of new trends in culture and music creativity in the industry, and why I believe a new phenomenon is underway, in the form of new genre hashtags (SoundCloud allows you to select a genre, or make a custom one) and in the form of overnight cult followings of different music groups. I assume the primary readership will be in those who are eager to stay updated on new music content, which includes publications such as The Fader, The New Yorker (a publication that writes about culture, music, and news), the Rolling Stone, as well of course the school paper to name a few. The whole series was actually co-curated by The Fader, an award-winning site dedicated to staying on top of culture, art and style. The Fader is credited with giving some of the earliest exposure to superstars including Kendrick Lamar, Bon Iver, Kanye West, Outkast and The Strokes and could potentially bring huge success rates to the people mentioned in this article, such as Marciel, Caspr, and Foreign Forest. Demographically, most people interested in Sound Cloud are teenagers and millennials, who tend to vote on the liberal side and are across the spectrum of religions. Anyone in middle school, high school, college, or beyond can find this accessible, as well.
On the first page, I believe I succeeded in identifying that, simply because music is popular or unpopular remains irrelevant, but the important aspect for music platforms is to stay up to date on what is tangibly happening in the world. A lot of times, online, a person can get lost in a sort of cyber space, but when a crew at SoundCloud actually visits these different music scenes, they find actual groups of friends coming together to create a different genre of music for people to hear. I also believe I did a good job in interviewing a big name in the sound cloud scene in Foreign Forest, as well as getting insights from other big names, Caspr and 93FEETOFSMOKE. These quotes exemplify fully what SoundCloud means to people and how all these videos, songs, concerts, and blogs symbolize a drastic change in the youth subculture, music industry, and how people are expressing themselves. Businesses such as SoundCloud have now established themselves, and seen how people simply want the opportunity to create with their friends, and have made it that much easier to explore music. This shows that, before anything else, youth subculture comes first when identifying where music is heading. Because, soon enough, these same people will be the musical role models for the following generation, and the musical progression will evolve extensively.