The site indexes and provides on-demand “cloudcasts” (that’s a podcast, stored in the cloud). You can’t download these shows for offline listening, but provided your Internet connection is sound you’re never left waiting for a cloudcast to start. Those of you looking for an alternative to the iTunes (or any) podcast directory can’t go far wrong with Mixcloud, and the Mixcloud iOS app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
My Life In The Cloud
If you’re a huge advocate of on-demand streaming, cloud storage and despise waiting for downloads to finish then Mixcloud will certainly appeal to you. Your only option when it comes to listening to a chosen show is by streaming it directly to your device, be it your home PC or smartphone.
Mixcloud restricts its listeners to this for legal issues and claims to ensure artists featured on music cloudcasts receive their royalties. Admittedly, when the “why can’t I download this” penny dropped I was slightly put off.
Then I saw the sheer volume and variety of shows available, the shiny new iOS app and suddenly felt the need to adjust my wireless router for optimal streaming in the garden. What can I say?
As you’d expect, the Mixcloud website and app follow the same formula. Cloudcasts are essentially sorted by trend (that’s the current most popular shows) and show category. If you’re simply looking for something to dull your boredom, there’s usually plenty of variety in the popular column.
Browsing by category is often the best way to discover mixes, shows and artists and if that fails then there’s always search. Once you have listened to a few shows and shared a little personal taste with Mixcloud the service begins recommending shows and users you might like.
Unfortunately there is (currently, version 1.2.0) no way of retrieving these recommendations using the app on your iPhone or similar, only via the web interface. A future update will probably rectify this – fingers collectively crossed!
Twitter For Music?
If you’ve noticed a particular user is uploading consistently good material then you can opt to follow them. This will fetch their listens, favourites and uploads which will appear in your feed. The mobile app doesn’t have a feed as such, though if you tap Profile on the start screen your followers and any users you’re following are listed.
If you use Twitter or Facebook you can connect your accounts and find friends already using the service, or simply browse your way through the content on offer till you find someone who tickles your fancy.
The overall format does vaguely resemble Twitter, with cloudcasts listed in a short succinct form. You can favourite a track as well as share via social networks. Each listing contains three small icons – plays, favourites and shares.
The overall effect is a very social experience, geared towards sharing, recommending and discovering content that is relevant to you. Mixcloud claims that as they’re storing all their data on the cloud they have a lot more data to play around with, making recommendations that little bit more personal.
There are a few annoyances with Mixcloud, though these aren’t particularly major considering how the whole package is free. Unfortunately there’s no way of skipping through a cloudcast – both via the browser interface and app. This is fairly frustrating when the list of tracks (if you’re listening to music) is displayed in front of you and tapping them does nothing.
Not everyone will be put off by this (remember radio?) but adding a mix to your favourites because you love track 7 and then never being able to skip to track 7 without listening to tracks 1 though to 6 is a bit tiresome after a while.
Mixcloud provides a fantastic database of streaming audio entertainment, with a snappy web interface and useful little app. Whilst the app is lagging behind a little (no feed or recommendations) it’s still a fast and reliable way to access your cloudcasts. Anyone can upload to the Mixcloud service, so any prospective podcasters or DJs reading this might want to explore the exposure that Mixcloud might bring. We’ve got an article about creating your own podcast right here.
Have you tried Mixcloud? Do you use the app? Any features you’d love to see? Share your thoughts and favourite mixes below!