Students navigate the music industry using sharing websites

Max Josef

As a kid, all senior Jake Baldwin wanted to do was play music. Once he found his passion, he needed a way to share it with others—so, he turned to SoundCloud, an online platform for aspiring musicians and producers alike.

Baldwin, who plays bass, acoustic guitar, and sings, has 282 followers and has posted 17 tracks on SoundCloud.

He first started uploading his music on the internet in seventh grade.

“It was really a silly endeavor since I did not have much to put out there. I was just trying to promote myself,” Baldwin said. “I did not get a lot of feedback, but what I got back was really nice. People were so encouraging to me.”

Baldwin said that he had a trick to gain followers on SoundCloud.

“I had a dirty trick to gain followers. I followed like 5,000 people who followed bands I liked, and waited until they followed me back. It worked,” Baldwin said. “It was a really poor self-promotional tactic.”

One of the initial hurdles he faced was his inability to compose music, according to Baldwin.

“The stuff that I posted back then was not very good in my opinion. When I look back, I want to get away from it,” Baldwin said. “It was unmusical garbage. It was almost exclusively bass which does not sound good alone.”

Baldwin said that he was embarrassed about how the music sounded, but as he gained experience, he began to feel better about the music he was posting.

SENIOR JAKE BALDWIN rehearses on his guitar. Baldwin often uses music sharing sites like SoundCloud to share his musical talents.
SENIOR JAKE BALDWIN rehearses on his guitar. Baldwin often uses music sharing sites like SoundCloud to share his musical talents.

Unlike Baldwin, junior vocalist and guitarist Noa Zimmerman does not use Soundcloud. Instead, she uses iTunes, Spotify and CD Baby to share her music.

Zimmerman said that the process is pretty simple and only takes a couple of steps.

“The process of putting your pre-recorded music on one of the sites like CD Baby is simple. You self-upload the music and then [the sites] are the ones that distribute your music for you, but you have to be sure that you copyright your music before posting it,” Zimmerman said.

She also stressed that music sharing sites are for people who want to attract attention to their music rather than make money.

“If your intention is just to make money, I would only use iTunes, but if you want people to get to know your music, I would use CD Baby and Spotify,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman characterizes her genre as acoustic singer-songwriter folk music, mainly modeled after singer-songwriter Elliot Smith.

Most of Zimmerman’s exposure comes from performing and sharing her music with her friends.

“I have these sites so people can listen to my music after they see me at one of my shows. It allows them to really get to know what kind of music I do,” Zimmerman said. “When my friends see my music on Spotify, they are like, ‘Oh, I saw you on Spotify!’ It’s pretty cool.”

Similarly, freshman vocalist Sylvie Cox turned to music sharing sites when she needed a way to share her music with people.

Cox has 63 followers and has posted 12 tracks on SoundCloud.

“I started using [SoundCloud] because I do not have a record company that I am working with so it was the only way I would be able to get my music out there,” Cox said.

Cox also uses her personal social media accounts to showcase her singing.

“I also share my music on my Instagram and Facebook accounts.”

Like Zimmerman, Cox wanted to stress that people should use websites to share their music.

“I would recommend SoundCloud because it is widely used and people know about it. SoundCloud music is also really easy to share on social media,” Cox said.

Baldwin recommended that before musicians put their music out on the web, they should really sit on it for some time or run it by mentors who know music, such as band members and teachers, because once the music is on the Internet, it never goes away.

As for the music published by Baldwin in seventh grade, he has embraced it and has not taken it down after the initial embarrassment.

The three musicans can be heard on their personal music sharing accounts by visiting SoundCloud, Spotify or iTunes.