If you haven’t heard of Soundcloud, I should first explain that it is an online audio service where users can upload everything from music to news clips. Users own their clips, and as long as they respect the rights of others on the site, they can upload to their heart’s desire.
As a listener, I can also access the site as much as I like, and it has proven itself a good place for me to find new music on occasion. The interface can be a bit unwieldy, though, and that has caused me to shy away from the site in general. I largely stick to the music I have on my desktop, but when it gets old, sometimes I crawl back to my online avenues of discovery.
Now, I have a new tool with which to aid that discovery. It is called Wonder.fm — a website that crawls Soundcloud for new music and allows listeners to stream music through its own interface.
Wonder.fm makes some improvements on the Soundcloud display. What it does best is sort music according to my preferences. I can either have an assortment of music presented to me on the site’s home page or I can select a genre and upload date and have the site crawl for music based on those preferences. As I write this piece, I am listening to music in the Chill category, and I’m only listening to songs that Soundcloud users uploaded today.
I can also choose from the genres of Alternative, Hip Hop, Indie, Metal, Punk, Pop, Rap, Rock, Electronic, EDM (electronic dance), House, Techno, Trance, or Trap. I can also sort through songs that were uploaded only three hours ago, six hours, recently, or within the past week, fortnight, or month.
The controls for Wonder.fm are pretty basic. The home page shows artists’ images that correspond with their accounts in a grid format atop the songs they recently uploaded. I can click on any of those photos to begin playing a song, or I can click the upper-right corner of the website on a “menu” button that will take me to the filter page where I can apply the filters I listed above. Within both pages, there is a simple Web-based audio player with a link to post a song to Twitter and two links to pause/play and skip to the next track. Sorted tracks play continuously in the order they are listed.
Only having checked out this site for a short time, it feels like there are a few elements missing. For example, it would be great to be able to create my own custom playlists. I’d also like to be able to tag songs and artists for future listens. If I find a song I like, I can click on the song’s or its artist’s name to be linked back to that song’s/user’s Soundcloud page, so it would be possible to bookmark those artists without aid of Wonder.fm itself.
I appreciate the effort put into this site because it does make it easier to discover new music with an interface that isn’t overly-cluttered. I can browse directly through genres without having to make an account, so there is a lot to be said for the simplicity that the site offers. I’ll keep checking back to see if the developers make any improvements on the site’s design. Wonder.fm definitely has a solid foundation.