Being huge fans of SoundCloud, we recently attempted to utilize the SoundCloud player and its built-in comments to annotate and share our production notes all in one place. Below is our experience, but the verdict is in: SoundCloud isn’t any better than a good old fashioned notepad.
First to even attempt to use SoundCloud’s comments, you need to upload a song privately. Any song posted can be privately shared to an invites list. In our case, the three of us don’t individually have SoundCloud accounts, so we just use the band’s account. This caused a minor problem for us identifying who wrote which comment on a track. We resorted to prefixing comments with our first names to help, but we could easily all create our own accounts.
Leaving comments was pretty easy. It is really easy in the player to quickly note that (in the actual timeline) a “bass line needs work here”, or “we need a drum fill here”. You can do this on their mobile player and it works pretty nice. Sometimes it is a bit hard to place your comment at the exact timestamp you want. The same goes if you have a lot of comments clustered in the same area.
But the biggest problem we found by far was reviewing our comments after we left them. A major problem is that inside the player all comments eventually get truncated to 128 characters. To view the full comment (including replies) you have to click the comments tab under the song. And in this detailed view, the player is not shown. The player also does not show replies to comments. So you pretty much have to use the player for leaving comments, but then need to switch to the detailed view under the comments tab to review them.
Let’s talk about the detailed comments view. On this page, there is no player, ughh. This hurts because the player has the comments ordered by song time. But on this page they are ordered by when the comment was left. It would be great to be able to sort both ways. This makes it hard to ultimately find comments, for review, to reply, or to mark completed.
So in summary, while SoundCloud provides a great service, we found it isn’t great for keeping notes on your tracks in progress. Try to keep your comments short and it may work better for you. But until SoundCloud redesigns the comment page away from a social-centric design to something that can be used for collaborative notes and tracking, we will revert to whiteboards and emails.