Pony: soundcloud/mefimusic integration January 7, 2013 8:54 PM   Subscribe

This is a honkin' big pony but bear with me. It would be REALLY nice if we could make music posts using embedded soundcloud links, much as we can embed YouTube and Vimeo links.

This is not just a matter of convenience. Mefimusic is one of the hidden mefi gems, but it tends to be its own little Balkan kingdom. Not only do relatively few mefites visit it, but even fewer non-mefites.

Yet many of us who post there are members of more or less active musical communities. For better or worse, soundcloud tends to be the common denominator and it is the de facto way of sharing demos and similar stuff online.

Currently I duplicate everything on soundcloud and mefimusic but it would be much better for me if they were interoperable. This would have the dual effect of bringing mefimusic to a wider audience and linking the mefimusic community into the soundcloud ecosystem.

Technically it would be a case of permitting users to supply a soundcloud URL instead of uploading a file when posting a song. That would obviously require some reengineering of the player, which I fully recognize is non-trivial. But it would also allow mefi to leverage some of the soundcloud tech. My understanding is that they are sympathetic to this kind or use of their service.

In the long run it would future-proof the mefi music service by offloading the hosting to soundcloud (at least to the extent one believes soundcloud is future proof).
posted by unSane to Feature Requests at 8:54 PM (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, if we allowed for a SoundCloud URL on the posting page, I suspect we could skip the existing html5 audio player and just show an embeded soundcloud player on the front page of music, and not have to carry files around.

This would likely break the podcast file playlists we have set up, might also prevent the downloading of song files as an option, and other sorts of features of MeFi Music.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:17 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

My concern is that we would then be dependent on a 3rd party that we have little control over. So if Soundcloud decided that kind of use isn't in their interest, or if they go away entirely, we'd have a hole in those places we used Soundcloud. The tracks are central to MeFi Music posts and without them there's not much there.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:23 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I fully recognize that this probably would mean a shift away from the roll-your-own model of MefiMusic to one which (largely, or at least to some extent) gloms off third parties. The question is whether the trade-off would be worth it or not, and that's for you not me.

My own personal feeling is that without some kind of social integration of this kind, MefiMusic is condemned to ever remain a tiny Balkan kingdom, a sort of Christian Island with its own inbred population. That might be a good thing, I dunno. There is some frustration among regulars (most of whom are already on Soundcloud) about this. But maybe there will always be more regulars.

The Soundcloud guys are by all accounts extremely approachable. It might be worth a conversation.
posted by unSane at 9:30 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

If supporting SoundCloud is important, one possible solution would be that if the poster supplies a SoundCloud URL on the posting page, the MeFi Music backend would attempt to download the mp3 from SoundCloud. If it the download fails, the post is rejected. However, if it succeeds, the mp3 retrieved from SoundCloud can be used behind the scenes to power the MeFi Music specific-features like the playlists, download link, etc. Furthermore, MeFi Music will have a mp3 that the existing html5 audio player could reference if SoundCloud goes away.
posted by RichardP at 12:29 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think the problem with Mefi Music currently is that hardly anyone listens to Mefi Music. As music communities go it's tiny.

I don't upload my tracks there anymore because (a) I can't delete them if I want them out of circulation and (b) I don't want to be shouting into the void if nobody's listening.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:19 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't upload my tracks there anymore because (a) I can't delete them if I want them out of circulation and (b) I don't want to be shouting into the void if nobody's listening.

I'm going this way soon, too.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:26 AM on January 8, 2013

i'm really not willing to have my mefi music files at the mercy of a 3rd party just to post stuff here - i've nothing against sound cloud - i might consider joining sometime this year - and if they were willing to pick up whatever it is we post here, that would be fine with me - (or i might just duplicate it myself there) - but i want to post it HERE, not there and have it be picked up to here
posted by pyramid termite at 4:26 AM on January 8, 2013

Aren't we already dependent on a lot of third parties? What's a single-link YouTube post without YouTube?

Metafilter is a link aggregator: we were always going to have big gaping holes in the posts that link to things that subsequently disappear.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:56 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

If we had a site dedicated to hosting videos produced by our members, and we had one video per post, I'm not sure we would use YouTube to host them. MetaFilter isn't just about sharing items from one service produced by members. It would absolutely be easier for us if we didn't have to manage gigabytes worth of music files on our end, but we do it because we feel like that's an important part of how the site works.

Maybe we could discuss the benefits of Soundcloud. Integration would save uploading a file somewhere twice, but I'm not sure what else it would help out with. Would commenting and conversations move over to Soundcloud? Is the root problem that there aren't enough people interested in having conversations about music here?
posted by pb (staff) at 6:38 AM on January 8, 2013

> Metafilter is a link aggregator: we were always going to have big gaping holes in the posts that link to things that subsequently disappear.

There's half a problem with this line of thinking: MeMu is explicitly an own-hosted subsite; linkrot shouldn't be occurring there. The music track is the post; any text in the post is accompaniment, not the purpose. So the music file pretty much has to be own-hosted.

On the other side of the coin, I'd be all for inlining SoundCloud links into the blue, where timeliness is more acceptable and linkrot is not a great thing but to some extent accepted as a natural eventuality.
posted by ardgedee at 7:00 AM on January 8, 2013

What's the value add of mefi music if everyone is just posting their music on soundcloud? There's a larger, more active community there, and a bigger audience. Why not just post links to your music in projects?
posted by empath at 8:26 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is the root problem that there aren't enough people interested in having conversations about music here?

Yeah, kinda. Or at least, the conversational ball hasn't gotten rolling, for some reason. I think there's something of a negative feedback loop taking place, whereby people post, there are no comments, and it's discouraging to people who post things.

The comments on songs are rarely a conversation; they tend to be "this is good" or some variant. I think a culture of "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything" is probably overall the best choice for Music - a chorus of D(elete)TMFA probably would not inspire me.

I am a little confused, though, as to what soundcloud integration would do - are the comments here or there? How would the pre-existing communities on soundcloud get directed this way? but it is late here and I am tired so i might be missing something obvious.
posted by dubold at 4:11 PM on January 8, 2013

There's actually quite the uproar right now over the latest Soundcloud update, which makes it much less valuable as a community of musicians as they try to change its focus to a music-streaming site (where, strangely, the artists pay instead of get paid.) Doing Soundcloud integration specifically might not be the best idea.

* * *

There's quite a few online music communities (some quite niche) I participate in, so here's some more of my critiques of Mefi Music:

-There really aren't enough people using the site to get the conversation ball rolling.

-Because the site is general-interest, the music is all over the place musically. It's much easier to make it with a handful of users when you're a niche music community, but when you can have polka, chiptune metal and strummy guitars back-to-back people are going to be less interested in dropping in to talk about each others' music.

-Comments don't offer enough critique. "This song is terrible, here's why" should be a valid critique, and we should all be able to learn from it. "I like this" doesn't help me become a better musician. Again, when it's such a small site and general-interest, people might not have much critique to offer when they don't even like that genre of music to begin with.

-You can't delete or edit your music posts, which can be a real drag and makes me hesitant to upload. I would really enjoy having songs not hosted on MeFi, but instead using widget code linking to a song off-site. Dead links don't bother me- it's about the conversation, and it's about the now.

-Overall, I think Music lacks a critical mass of like-minded people. Uploading my music there reminds me of playing tracks I'd written in ModPlug Tracker for acquaintances in high school, who would either be polite or say they didn't understand why I would want to make music with my computer. If my friends had been glitchy computer music enthusiasts, the response would have been really different, and there could have been conversation, collaborations, et cetera.

I don't know what the answer is, but as it stands right now it's hard for people to find music they like, and it's hard for them to find people who like the same kind of music and bounce ideas off each other. Split up the front page into rock/folk/electronic? The userbase might be so small that it would be a death knell. What I do know is that the current functionality isn't doing much but foster a community of monthly novelty song contests, when the site could be so much more.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:51 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Anecdote: For some reason, I have never even noticed the "Music" link in the primary nav.
posted by panaceanot at 4:25 AM on January 9, 2013

I love exploring the music section. All the music there makes it so much fun! You won't see any comments from me though as I don't have anything to add other than "I love it" or such comments.


What if we just added a little soundcloud favicon icon right next to the music player?

Sorta like this:
| music player ..............................................................| sc |

Where 'sc' is the favicon.

The submitter uploads their own music, and then if s/he wishes, they can add a soundcloud link to where their music would also be hosted.

This way I can browse through mefi music business as normal, and then when a song especially interests me I can click through to soundcloud and explore further. I would love soundcloud links.
posted by Folk at 11:44 AM on January 10, 2013

Folk, you can already find MeFi users who have added SoundCloud to their MetaFilter profile at the social explorer. And in the future, if there's a track you like you can check their MetaFilter profile to see if they have a link to SoundCloud there.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:50 PM on January 10, 2013

And our hope is that you'll also take a look at their MeFi Music track history before (or in addition to) heading over to SoundCloud.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:58 PM on January 10, 2013

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