A festive message from Mixcloud

We sent this letter out via email recently and thought we’d post it on the blog as well:

Hello friends,

It’s the festive season again, with Christmas greetings galore… so it’s the perfect excuse for us to get in touch with a little update from Mixcloud HQ.

The past few months have been an absolute whirlwind. We’ve gone from salaried career folk to startup hobos, from office to shipping container to warehouse. We’ve met so many wonderful new people. Some inspiring, some insightful, some downright odd! We’ve pitched Mixcloud hundreds of times,

…to Venture Capitalists

…to superstar DJs.

And we learn something new every time. It’s been the greatest adventure of our lives so far.

We’ve managed to bring together a team that we’re incredibly excited and honoured to be working with – thank you guys for all your help, passion and hard work. We’re looking to expand the team in the new year, so if you know any music-loving Django or Flash programmers – get in touch!

You may have noticed we’ve started our alpha testing – and you can expect your invites to the private beta coming soon.

Mixcloud’s new West London home… seriously!


Our big news is that we’ve been selected for a grant from the UK Technology Strategy Board. It is a research and development grant for a collaborative project between Mixcloud and Queen Mary University’s Centre for Digital Music – so over the next few months we’ll be working together to build some exciting and innovative new features for Mixcloud.

We’ve also been selected to attend SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas next March as part as part of the UK Digital Mission. Hopefully see you there!

All the best for 2009,

The Mixcloud Team

Five Eight Magazine: "The Wisdom of Clouds"

We had a great writeup on Five Eight Magazine a couple of months ago. Extremely late getting it onto the blog as we’ve had a few issues with moving and re-installing WordPress. I do absolutely love WordPress, don’t get me wrong, but this has definitely been more trouble than it should have been. Porting the original database over to a fresh install on a new server was remarkably easy, but then the lovely WP uploader failed us:

“Unable to create directory /home/mixcloud/public_html/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12. Is its parent directory writable by the server?”

Aghh!

So one fresh install later and we’re back, finally.

Now to the point. Five Eight Magazine is a great monthly publication from the guys at strategic music consultancy Frukt, described as “music business intelligence”. In their October issue they ran a feature article entitled “The Wisdom of Clouds” – I must say we loved the title! It’s all about Cloud Computing and its implications on file sharing and music consumption.

If you don’t know what Cloud Computing is, it’s one of these buzz-words flying around geek land which stands for remote rather than local storage. I.e. as data storage and transfer become ever cheaper and as we move towards a broadband-everywhere paradigm, it often makes more sense to store things in a central repository that can be easily accessed anywhere and everywhere. Webmail is a great example of this – why be constrained to accessing emails on Outlook only at work or at home when Gmail, Ymail and many more provide effectively unlimited storage. Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) says of Cloud Computing: “Fundamentally, it’s better to keep your money in the bank than in your pocket” (from Five Eight article).

So what does all this have to do with music? Well, lots actually. This is the start of a radical shift away from the generally accepted model of ownership of music (whether this ownership is through legal or illegal means). As far as legal goes, the picture below – “from unit sales to access” – sums it up very well (courtesy of Music Ally).

[click image to zoom]

This chart from Compete.com also shows how popular streaming music is compared to legal downloading:

The Five Eight article takes a very interesting angle on Cloud Computing’s implications on music consumption. “Context is the new content” it says; the industry is striving for new and more innovative ways to allow listeners to engage with their music – “get dirty with it, tear it apart, reshape it, mould it to their will, and then share and seed it within their community”. The Cloud phenomenon is a massive enabler of all these things, facilitating better discovery, sharing and collaboration.

As you might have guessed by now, Cloud Computing is central to the Mixcloud concept. Here’s what Five Eight had to say – happy reading! We’d love to hear your thoughts.
[click image to zoom]

Webcaster fee developments

SORRY IF IT’S APPEARING ON YOUR FEED AGAIN.

The US Congress has made some big headlines in the last few days. The proposed bill to remedy the current economic situation has grabbed a lot of attention, however another interesting development in the world of internet radio may have escaped the front pages.

Wired recently reported about the developments in webcaster fees for internet radio in the USA. The long running debate between the SoundExchange (the US copyright collection agency) and internet broadcasters like Pandora and NPR looks as though it is finally moving forward.

Congress has passed a bill stating that the current fees are open to revision, and with the RIAA and SoundExchange now recognising that their original proposed rates were too high, there seems to be a clear consensus to negotiate reasonable fees that would help all parties in the long run.

Although the economy may be going through hard times, it looks like internet radio may have a bright future.

I couldn’t leave you without a mix, so here’s one of my favourites from the last couple of months courtesy of the excellent Shilo – We make it good series, featuring Chris Devlin from Spank Rock. It starts of kind of slow, but builds well.

[audio:devlin_wemakeitgood.mp3]

Devlin – We Make It Good

Summer Sounds

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Time for our first of many recommended mixes and radio shows. We’ll start by keeping it in the family.

First up is a live recording of my very own set at Circo Loco earlier this summer when myself and my Man Make Music friends hosted the AKA Bar for one of the most highly respected house and techno nights in the world.

For years now, Circo Loco has had an unshakeable reputation as one of the best club nights in the world. Putting on after-hours parties at DC10, Circo Loco built its name on a cutting edge music policy, the wildest crowd and a handful of incredibly talented residents.
– From The End website

I had to leave Glastonbury early on the Saturday afternoon, which was a pretty hard call as it would have been my first ever Glastonbury in the sunshine. But being asked to play at Circo Loco has got to be one of the biggest honors of my DJ career to date, so it wasn’t that hard a decision! Playing the early set in the AKA Bar, I built up the vibe with my favourite brand of quirky, bouncy, head-nodding jackin’ techno music. I hope you enjoy.

[audio:http://www.mixcloudblog.com/audio/sketchyliveatcircoloco_summer08.mp3%5D

DJ Sketchy (Man Make Music)
Live @ Circo Loco, London (AKA Bar) – 28th June 2008

1. Izit – Heavy What? (Honky Version)
2. The Martin Brothers – Stoopit (Christian Martin Remix)
3. Robosonic – Die Verwandlung (Jesse Rose Mix)
4. Radioclit – Divine Gosa (Switch Remix)
5. Prztz – Nutdisco (Duckbeats Dub Mix)
6. Oliver $, Jesse Rose – Wake Up [Made To Play]
7. Benga & Coki – Night (L-Vis 1990 Hyper Bass Remix)
8. Luke Solomon – Ghouls (Claude VonStroke’s Beats From The Grave)
9. Hot Chip – Ready For The Floor (Jesse Rose Remix)
10. Madox – Plastic Fantastic (Riva Starr Chunky As F**k Remix)
11. Jesse Rose & Sinden – Me Mobile (Duckbeats Ringtone Riddim)
12. Jesse Garcia – Off Da Hook (Duke Dumont Remix)
13. Justin Martin – Night Owl
14. Booka Shade – The Bird And The Beats At The Window
15. Foals – Olympic Airways (Wudwerd Dub)
16. Swag – Everything I Know I Learnt On Acid (Jesse Rose & Oliver $ Remix)
17. Justin Martin – Revox

Next up is a special short mix that fellow MMM DJ Another Amit put together to get people warmed up for this weekend’s Bank Holiday Carnival Party. A journey through various styles of the London sounds of dubstep – from the bumpy remix style of Glasgow’s Rustie, to Starkey’s b-more club influenced beats, to Martyn’s beautiful techno inspired melodies.

[audio:http://mixcloudblog.com/audio/dubstepminimix.mp3%5D

Another Amit Dubstep Mini Mix
Man Make Music Carnival Special – August 2008

1) Zomby – Spliff dub (Rustie remix)
2) Zomby – Mu$h
3) Darkstar – Need You
4) Ikonika – Please
5) L-Vis 1990 – Change The Game (Starkey Remix)
6) TRG – Broken Heart (Martyn’s DCM Remix)
7) Shut Up and Dance – Epileptic (Martyn Remix)

Trekking boots off, flip-flops on

NOTE: THIS IS A REBLOG FROM AUGUST 2ND 2008 DUE TO FRESH BLOG RE-INSTALL.
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End of a short era.

Mixcloud has had to leave it’s first home. It was exciting while it lasted – I loved people’s reactions telling them I’m living in an office in West London and working in a shipping container on East London. Unfortunately now we’re just living in an office in West London and working in an office in West London.

So this post is in memory to our few weeks at Trinity Buoy Wharf in East India. It was fun, but boy are we glad we don’t have to trek an hour and a half each way to the office now. It’s been replaced by a 200 metre walk – more about the new place in the next post.

We’re also planning on doing an MTV Cribs style video of our home. And once that’s all done we might start telling you about what we’re building!

Er… hello world?

NOTE: THIS IS A REBLOG FROM JULY 23 2008 DUE TO FRESH BLOG RE-INSTALL.
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Couldn’t think of a more original title than that.

Welcome to the Mixcloud blog. This is the obligatory introductory post about who we are, what we do and why we’re blogging about it.

We’re a new online music startup, writing from a warehouse in West London.

I’m Nikhil. I love all sorts of music – in particular things that make me nod my head. (That’s my cop out answer to the “what kind of music do you like?” question). I am also passionate about the web, especially new ways of delivering and consuming content and ways of generally improving the media experience online. I have experience in branding, marketing and promotions, through which I also have an interest in new ways brands are attempting (some more successfully than others) to engage and communicate with their consumers. I run London based clubnight Man Make Music, and I am an avid DJ (in fact I have just been booked to play at prolific up-and-coming East London venue Unit 7 alongside one of my dance music faves Jesse Rose!).

Sitting next to me is Nico. He’s a Spanish-Belgian-American-French hybrid, one of the smartest and most interesting guys I know and equally passionate about music. I fact he’s a pretty decent breakdancer too… good enough that he usually manages to attract a small army of admiring females with his styles. He’s a very talented graphic and web designer, obsessed with user interface and information architecture. He believes that one of the biggest problems with the Internet* is the method of communicating information – i.e the design process – not placing the user at the centre of the process. You’re likely to hear much more about this if you continue checking our blog.

Our friend Alan Thomson has been of tremendous help getting things off the ground, helping code our first prototype. He’s an excellent developer and works as a freelancer, so if you’re ever in need of some resource check him out here.

The baton has now been picked up by Sam Cooke – an old friend from University break-dance days. Sam is a phenomenal developer. He also enjoys writing and playing music, from pop rock to Aphex Twin style electronica. No doubt you’ll be hearing some of his compositions on this blog in months to come.

And finally there’s Jack Melhuish – another old pal from University (he also gave both Nico and myself some awesome gigs, supporting the likes of DJ Yoda, The Scratch Perverts and more). Jack’s now Head of Digital UK for Atlantic Records. He’ll be working with us in his spare time with some of the cool ideas we’ve got.

What will we be writing about? The usual startup blog stuff – our experiences, observations, learnings and of course news/updates. I see a lot of startup/entrepreneur blogs that have lots of great information for those of us in this world. However I see much less aimed at the “lurking” aspiring entrepreneurs. I’d like to document our journey in a way that is relevant and useful to the nervous onlookers out there for when you finally take the exciting leap!

Finally we’ll of course be giving you some music recommendations – particularly of the radio and DJ mix variety (because that’s what we’re all about).

Thanks for reading.

The Mixcloud Team

* Interestingly we asked the question “what do you think is the biggest problem with the internet today?” in some market research we conducted a few months ago. The most popular answer with 35% of total responses was “information overload” (2nd was spam/junk with 24%; 3rd was security with 15%). We see that as a big challenge too, but we don’t see it as the problem. The problem, rather, is the way the information is presented. Here are some thoughts from something Nico wrote on the subject a few months ago.

“The biggest problem with the internet today is it’s inability to place the user at the center of the design process. This is changing as we see the rise of useful internet websites which aid us as tools in the 21st century. We need to move from “one to many” model with a select few creating content to a “many to many” model with everyone contributing. This will of course exponentially increase the amount of information available and a filtering mechanism will be necessary to process what is worth paying attention to. The websites which are designed with the user, and their desires and interests, in mind will be the ones which succeed.”