Untangling Web 2.0

An aspiring information professional shedding light on the Web 2.0 phenomenon

Innovation in Assembly? SoundCloud hits the right notes!

on March 24, 2013

SoundCloud is the world’s leading social sound platform where anyone can create sounds and share them everywhere.

But in the world of Web 2.0, SoundCloud does something just as important. It allows users to get involved in the way we experience SoundCloud.  It does this by providing users with its data, enabling them to create their own APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) which add value to SoundCloud’s already existing applications. This concept is outlined in one of Tim O’ Reilly’s patterns of Web 2.0, ‘Innovation in Assembly’.  ‘When commodity components are abundant, you can create value simply by assembling them in novel or effective ways’. 

There are ten best practices that are recommended to gain maximum benefit from this concept and SoundCloud addresses all of them.

Let’s explore how!

1. Offer APIs to your service. A great example of this concept is ‘Radio for SoundCloud’ which is an app designed by a third party. The premise of this app is that SoundCloud’s music is utilised in a radio segment format, using SoundCloud’s content.

2. Design for remixability. The ‘Radio for SoundCloud’ app would not be possible if SoundCloud’s content wasn’t easily available for disassembling and remixing.

3. Apply API best practices. SoundCloud really gets behind its voluntary developers by providing genuine developer support infrastructure. A website has been created just for them with the required documentation and tips to get started as well as a forum to ask questions and a blog to keep SoundCloud and its developers connected.

4. Use existing standards. SoundCloud not only uses existing standards but is concerned with using standards that will improve user engagement. As an example, SoundCloud replaced Flash with HTML 5, to support sound sharing on mobile platforms.

5. Build your business model into your API. SoundCloud’s APIs all enhance an important business objective – sharing sounds everywhere, and with 10, 000 developers at their disposal, that’s an achievable goal.

6. Use Web 2.0 to support your platform. SoundCloud utilises essential Web 2.0 components by allowing its users to comment, like and repost sounds. Users can private message each other and read SoundCloud’s blog.

7. Be your own platform customer. SoundCloud developed its own application for mobile devices which enhances the user experience.  Users are always updated due to push notifications, meaning that SoundCloud is always hovering around in the background. SoundCloud allows users to embed its music in their own website or blog which is a great way to disperse its content all over the Web.

8. Granular accessibility of content. The ‘Granular Web’ is all about ‘making web development componentised and outsourceable’. SoundCloud is certainly providing the means and the raw data for users to do some of the work for the company!

9. Use your platform to build customer trust and loyalty. SoundCloud hosts internal hackathons and encourages its users to submit hacks. There’s no better way to show users that their input is valued!

10. Learn from how your customers remix. Hackathons also allow SoundCloud to learn from their users and it is clear that SoundCloud wishes to utilise their users’ talent – the developers’ website encourages users to think about applying for a paid position!


Inbox making happy [Image] (n.d.) Retrieved by http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulamarttila/6751712175/.

If SoundCloud continues to hit the right notes in its innovative approach to development, it will benefit both the company and its users  – now that’s music to our ears!

What does everyone think? Does anyone use the APIs of any online service? Would you consider becoming a developer?


12 responses to “Innovation in Assembly? SoundCloud hits the right notes!

  1. Callum says:

    I love SoundCloud but am not impressed with its new format. I’m actually encouraged to take them up on their offer and use their data to change the way I experience SoundCloud. After all, I know exactly what I want 🙂 Watch this space!

  2. evecrithary says:

    It’s just like when I shop for clothes and know exactly how I would change an outfit to suit me but I wouldn’t be able to design one from scratch. I need some raw material to work with. Let me know what you come up with!

  3. sukhshans says:

    Hello Evie,
    The way that SoundCloud build customer trust and loyalty is very interesting. Its very different from other people by allowing people to play around with the code. While other API allows the use of the data, its rare to see an event that encourages hacking.


  4. Matt08H says:

    Hi Eve,
    While I don’t have a great deal of experience using SoundCloud, I never knew of the Radio for SoundCloud function. I always thought it was simply a upload and playback website with a unique commenting method. I certainly would use Radio for SoundCloud now know of its existence.

    – Matt

  5. monique says:

    Love your clothing analogy, Eve! 😛

    Really interesting post too. Re you questions: I have used APIs for creating a Mash-Up website for an assignment. I thought it was great how you could source data from another site which had far more data than you could ever retrieve yourself to great something completely new. I think the “following existing standards” point is very important for that point, as once you get the hang of using an API for one site, you can pretty much copy-paste and slightly modify the code to for them all.

  6. bronwynsc says:

    Hi Eve, thanks for the post. It seems great, and ticks all the boxes for ‘innovation in assembly’. I sometimes wonder if the site is so open (content and code), how do they hold the lead and stop someone from beating them at their own game?

  7. evecrithary says:

    That’s always in the back of my mind too! I usually keep all of my ideas close to my chest so someone cannot do exactly what you described – I suppose I need to change that view if I want to really embrace the concept of Web 2.0 🙂 I’m slowly getting there, but maybe SoundCloud has legal rights over whatever is made using their raw data? This is where it gets complicated…

  8. Felipe says:

    Hi Eve,

    Great post!
    SoundCloud definitely got it right by offering their API as their service. SoundCloud currently has thousands of third party apps, and as you say they have provided developer support infrastructure through the provision of their content for disassembling and remixing. It is not an easy task to read 10,000 developers! They have indeed hit the right notes.

  9. evecrithary says:

    Thanks Felipe! I almost feel sorry for them for all the work they have to do 🙂

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