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Back in January I blogged about the differences between the SoundCloud and BandCamp websites. At the time, I didn’t mention Alonetone because it didn’t really have a natural comparison to SoundCloud or BandCamp. Yes, it’s a website where you can upload your music for others to discover and download, but that’s where the similarities end.
Alonetone is a privately-owned, non-commercial website built by a musician named Sudara and is provided free of charge for all. Songs can be uploaded in MP3 format only (up to 40MB in size) and a link to your track is automatically included on the homepage for others to see and stays there until other users upload tracks and your song drops off the list.
There are several ways in which Alonetone is unique over SoundCloud and BandCamp:
Alonetone is a nice site and yet another good way of putting your music “out there” for others to discover. I sometimes find that the site runs slowly or becomes inaccessible, but that’s because it’s a privately-funded website and the owner lacks the financial resources of SoundCloud and BandCamp, but the site is growing in popularity and is definitely worth using.
Sudara is to be commended for his dedication to building, running and financing this website and I wish him the best of luck for the future.
Edit: This article was originally written for Propellerhead Record 1.5, but the same applies to Reason 6.
I recently bought a Samson C01U USB condenser microphone. I connected it to my Windows 7 laptop, the device drivers installed automatically and I could record sound from the mic in Ableton Live without any problems. I then went to record audio in Propellerhead Record by adding an audio track, but I couldn’t select the Samson mic as an input device. Record only seems to recognise mics and other input devices connected directly to your sound card (either internal or external) specified in your preferences, so given that my Samson mic was connected directly to my laptop via USB it bypassed my sound card and was therefore invisible to Record.
So, if you have bought a USB mic and cannot use it with Record, fear not because ASIO4ALL comes to the rescue. It’s a free download for Windows PCs that allows you to aggregate multiple input and output devices connected to your PC into a single virtual device, which can then be selected in your audio software of choice.
Here are the steps you need to follow to get a Samson C01U mic working with Record via ASIO4ALL on Windows 7, but it’s safe to assume that these instructions work for all USB mics on all versions of Windows, both 32-bit and 64-bit:
1. Connect your USB microphone to your PC and ensure that the drivers are installed correctly.
2. Download and install the free ASIO4ALL driver.
3. Start Record and select the Edit -> Preferences menu option and select ASIO ASIO4ALL v2 as the audio card driver, as shown here:
4. Click on the Control Panel button to bring up the ASIO4ALL settings and then click the spanner icon at the bottom-right of the window to alter the configuration:
5. The screen shot above will be different depending on the devices you have connected to your PC, so ensure that your sound card and the Samson C01U mic are selected as shown. You have now aggregated your sound card and mic into a single virtual device that is available to any audio application on your PC. You can aggregate as many devices as you like, but be aware that performance of the ASIO4ALL driver will be reduced when lots of devices are aggregated.
Record will now show the Samson C01U microphone as the input to your audio track:
The Samson mic may appear twice in the drop down list on the audio track, both of which perform the same. I can only assume that this is because the ASIO4ALL driver has been configured to aggregate both your sound card and your mic, resulting in two virtual channels being made available by the resultant virtual ASIO4ALL device.
You can now record audio from the microphone, but be warned: if you disconnect your mic the ASIO4ALL driver may show you an error message, but Record probably won’t crash as a result.
When I recorded some audio through the Samson C01U mic I noticed that the input level was very low. I tried increasing the level of the audio track in Record but this didn’t make much difference. Originally, Samson made a free driver available on their website for the mic called SoftPre, which allowed you to make adjustments to the mic’s settings, but this has been discontinued. You now change the mic’s settings via the Hardware and Sound settings in Control Panel, which in my opinion is a much better way of configuring audio devices:
After selecting the Hardware and Sound option in Control Panel, click the Manage audio devices option:
Select the Samson C01U microphone from the Recording tab and click the Properties button:
You can then adjust the mic’s level from the Levels tab to suit your preferences. As you move the slider the setting takes effect immediately, so you can monitor the mic input level in Record at the same time, helping you to fine-tune the setting in real time:
There’s never been a better time to be an independent musician or producer. A perfect storm of technologies and web platforms means it’s easy and cheap to make music on even the cheapest computer and publish it on the web to reach a global audience, completely free of charge.
The two main web platforms are BandCamp and SoundCloud, each of which has similarities, but both offer features that are exclusive to each site. I personally use both to reach the largest possible audience, but I was initially confused as to what each site had to offer, so to save you from going through the same learning curve I’ve tried to include enough information here to help you make an informed decision.
Before you go any further, I should state that this article was written in January 2011 and both of the sites may have added or changed features by now, but everything here is accurate at the time of writing. If any major changes take place I’ll attempt to keep this post up to date.
Both BandCamp and SoundCloud give users the ability to upload music in a range of formats and then make your songs available to anyone with an Internet connection via your own dedicated web page on each site, meaning you don’t need a website of your own to start offering music downloads. Each has a widget that you can use to embed your tracks into web pages, allowing people to play your songs directly from a page, working very much the same as the YouTube player that can be used to embed video in a web page. Each site collects statistics on how many times your songs have been played and they also allow you to publish new material to social websites, such as Twitter or Facebook, whilst also allowing listeners to share tracks by email or on their own social network pages for their friends to see. The latter is particularly powerful because it can help spread the word virally, helping you to reach a much wider potential audience.
So, that’s the basics covered, what else do these sites offer?
Both sites are free to register, so you can be up and running very quickly at no cost. As well as a free membership tier, SoundCloud has several different annual premium paid subscriptions with varying degrees of additional functionality, which are explained on their website.
It’s safe to say that SoundCloud users are more interested in dance music, whereas BandCamp caters for music of all kinds. You can of course upload music from any genre to each website.
SoundCloud allows you to upload a maximum of 120 minutes audio as part of their free offering, but you can pay for more space if necessary. This means you’re storage space reduces by song length rather than file size, so you can upload a 3 minute WAV or MP3 file and they’ll both use the same allocation. BandCamp has no limit as to how much audio you upload.
Both sites allow you to offer your songs as free downloads. SoundCloud allows 100 downloads per song with their free membership offering, whereas BandCamp allows 200 downloads per month, so if a song is downloaded 200 times in one month it cannot be downloaded again until the following month. Both sites give you the ability to offer more downloads for an additional fee.
At the time of writing, SoundCloud offers membership options from 29 to 500 EUROS per year. BandCamp makes money from selling your music, currently between 10% to 15% depending on the amount sold. Please be sure to check with each site because the costs may have changed since publication.
You can sell your music directly on BandCamp by specifying a set cost per song, or by specifying a minimum cost and allowing fans to pay more. BandCamp also allows you to sell physical merchandise alongside your music and you can include bonus downloads with songs, such as PDF documents, videos or images. With BandCamp you can also create discount voucher codes or free download codes. You can also offer a 128kpbs compressed file for free, but charge for a higher quality file format.
If you want to sell music on SoundCloud you must include a link to an external website with your song where the track can be bought. This link could obviously go to your BandCamp website, or to iTunes, or wherever you are selling your music.
Both SoundCloud and BandCamp allow you to upload compressed and un-compressed files and both stream audio at 128kbps from their players. You should upload your music in an un-compressed file format such as AIFF, WAV or FLACC for maximum quality, even though it takes longer to upload.
When a listener downloads from SoundCloud they will receive the file in the original format you uploaded. BandCamp allows the listener to download the song in a whole range of formats, from compressed MP3 to FLAC, WAV and AIFF.
In both cases, when you upload a song you continue to own your music publishing and copyright. You can elect to make your material available via the Creative Commons Licence, allowing people to re-use it for non-commercial purposes, for example.
Widgets & Sharing
Both websites allow a listener to easily share your music with their friends via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook or by email. You can also easily embed the site’s widgets in your web pages, as shown here. The BandCamp widget sounds noticeably better than the SoundCloud widget, however SoundCloud say they are always looking at ways to improve the quality of their transcoding algorithm.
Instructions on how to do this are included on each site:
I haven’t done any exhaustive or accurate tests, but SoundCloud seemed a marginally quicker than BandCamp. Obviously the speed depends on your Internet connection and the size of the file you’re uploading. SoundCloud have a desktop application that you can download and install to help manage your songs.
Now that I’ve covered the common features of each site, here are the features that are unique to each offering:
So, as you can see, each site offers you a wealth of features. BandCamp trumps SoundCloud if you want to sell your music, whereas SoundCloud provides collaboration features, helping you to work with others easily.
Hopefully you are now armed with enough information to decide whether each site – or both – are right for you. If you think I’ve missed anything please leave a comment below.