How to Build a Following on SoundCloud

I’ve had a decent bit of success developing a network of followers at SoundCloud over the past few weeks, so I thought I would share a few thoughts about what I’ve learned. If you follow these steps, within a few weeks you could have your own thriving network of friends and followers. It takes a bit of effort, but once you learn these tips, your time can be much more productive.

  • Start by following people you are actually interested in.

This sounds obvious, but people often just start by randomly following hundreds of people, clicking on [+] signs as fast as they can. These people can usually be spotted by the extremely high number of people they have followed, and the low number of people who have actually followed them back. This is an unproductive approach, which I will expand upon later.

  • Start with a maximum of 100-200 people that you hand-pick to follow.

Use your initial selections as the nucleus of your group. Later, when we grow your social network, you will have a much more focused, relevant group of followers because of it. Try to get good 20 or 30 followers that have music you really like.

  • Watch your Dashboard and begin to Listen, Comment and Favorite (LCF) tracks associated with your core group.

LCF is core to the SoundCloud community and culture. If you don’t want to bother spending a lot of time doing LCF, then you can probably stop right here! Why? Because first, the next steps won’t work for you. Second, you’ll be a lousy neighbor! Seriously, if you just want to amass followers through a follower-spam scheme, then know that SoundCloud limits you to following 2,000 people. Yes, there are those who constantly churn their 2,000 limit and don’t contribute anything to the community. Therefore, in the end, they will get nothing back for their efforts. The best way to gain followers is to actually be — and remain — a follower yourself.

[ There. Did I weed out the leeches just then? Good. It’s just us decent people then, so proceed… ]

  • Upload a few songs.

If this takes you two weeks, take the two weeks and work on this before you start into the growth phase. It’s really important to your success in SoundCloud that you have tracks available when you begin to grow your network. When people follow you back, they will often check out your songs. This may be the only opportunity you have with that person to get them to LCF and download your tracks. So have the tracks ready FIRST, because it’s a lot harder to get people to come back again later.

  • Follow back everyone that follows you.
  • Begin to follow the followers of your core group.

We will build a connected graph this way, and keep your network more relevant. This is the beauty of Graph Theory (Google it!), because you will start to see patterns emerge. Those patterns eventually form the basis of community, and you will actually start to get to know people from all over the world, united by a common interest in each other’s music.

  • Only follow people who are online.

Or, people you know to have been online very recently because you’ve read a comment or seen some activity. The green dot next to their name means that user is online. There are two reasons for this. First, lots of people blindly mirror someone else’s follower list, not realizing that many of those people may not be active SoundCloud users anymore. Or they are not active enough to respond to you in a reasonable amount of time. Second, when someone is online, they are much more likely to follow you back, because they are currently engaged with the cloud and will see your follow as an event on their Dashboard. This one tip can have a huge impact on your productivity as you grow your network.

  • Only follow people who tend to follow back.

Follow followers, because that is what you are looking for. I also look for a good ratio of followings-to-followers. In other words, if someone is following 1,000 people and 300 have followed back, this person will follow me back. But if the person is following 300 people and has 1,000 followers, he may not follow me back. Don’t worry — there are plenty of other ways to discover people’s music on SoundCloud, including Groups. Right now you are focused on growing your network.

  • When people follow you back, go LCF their tracks.

You will soon start to see that the combined actions of following and LCF actions with your friends will gain you followers, listeners, commenters, and those who favorite your tracks. It’s that simple. All takes a lot of time and effort, so now you can see why I provided guidelines about who to follow, so that your time is as productive as it cam be.

  • When people follow you back, follow their followers.

That is, follow the followers that match the above criteria, of course. Don’t make the mistake of following the same people they are following. Follow someone who has already proven they will follow back someone in your network. And is online, etc.  You should not have to go to their full follower list to do this.  Just focus on the mini-list in the right sidebar of their profile page.  Click on the second tab, and you’ll see that their followers who are online are already placed there at the top for you, just where you want them.  If they have a full list of 10 followers that are online, it’s OK to stop there.  It’s a lot harder to weed through the full list trying to find all of their followers who are online.

  • Be online.

As I mentioned above, when your SoundCloud status is “Online”, you pop to the top of people’s Dashboard follower lists.  So being online makes you much more discoverable to others that are building their own networks.  So keep a browser open to your Dashboard throughout the day, and occasionally refresh it to maintain your online status.

  • Have patience.

Don’t try to do this all in one day, or one week or one month. Make it a daily discipline, maybe twice per day, to follow 100 people in this manner. If you’re doing all the LCF and vetting you should be doing, then this will be plenty of work! You need this to play out over time, and you need your network to be meaningful and productive for you as an artist. It’s not a contest! Nobody’s getting rich here at SoundCloud (well, maybe except Alex!), so take your time to develop your network in a meaningful, productive way.

OK, so those are the tips.  I hope they are helpful to you!  At some point you will get to the point where there is no way you can LCF everyone that follows you, or keep up with everything.  I have already made some remarkable friendships and developed collaborative partnerships with people I never would have met in any other way.  So work hard to build a solid SoundCloud network and be open to what the community has in store for you!

Blessings,

- Bash

16 Responses to How to Build a Following on SoundCloud
  1. Vincent I.D
    June 3, 2011 | 7:32 pm

    You are right!!!!I’m gonna try..:)

  2. James Starkie
    June 7, 2011 | 7:56 am

    Nice write up mate. Very interesting read. Thanks

  3. JFlexxxx
    June 7, 2011 | 10:40 am

    Very good advice!

  4. LeVeNdiS
    August 15, 2011 | 7:55 am

    Thank-you BashCoder,

    You’ve laid out sage advice with one bit of cognitive dissonance. At first you suggest genuinely following others then “Follow back everyone that follows you”. Which do you suggest has priority?

    Happy sequencing,
    LeVeNdiS

    • bash
      August 30, 2011 | 1:38 pm

      Thanks for the comment LeVeNdiS – that’s a good point. Initially, while you are under the 2,000 user following limit, it’s best to do both. In other words, as you build your network you will gain followers because you initiated contact, but also because people discover you first in other people’s list of followers. So it’s important to both follow people proactively and reactively as you build your network.

      However, once you get to the 2,000 user limit you run out of headroom and you can’t continue to follow back everybody who follows you. That’s when you have to start making harder decisions about how to keep your network fresh. At least it’s not as bad as Facebook, where they limit the number of people who can follow you. In my case, I pruned some inactive followers and am down to following about 1,800 while twice that many people are following me. I am now going through the process of using up that 200 user headroom to follow more people.

      I have been offline for the past two months, as I was in Ukraine adopting two teenagers. But now I’m back in the saddle and working on the network some more.

      Blessings,

      - Bash

  5. TNC
    November 8, 2011 | 3:48 am

    Very good article! I have to agree with almost everything. I just don’t follow people back (semi-)automatically. I now follow 177 people, and I find it very hard to keep up with all their updates. But that’s what I want to do, when I follow someone, I truly follow – I try to LCF as much as possible. So for me, I think following 200 people is about the limit, I just can’t handle any more :-)

    I totally agree with you developing friendships and collaborative partnerships. The Cloud is a very creative field, but like in real life, you have to put quite some effort in it – it pays off!

  6. gordin bones
    December 1, 2011 | 12:15 pm

    well put, im not obsessed about having a huge following, but it is very important to be honest with your follows, and to give support to others for the hard work that they do! GO SOUNDCLOUD! what a great network.

  7. Maura Causey
    February 18, 2012 | 10:54 am

    A round of applause for your blog article. Cool.

  8. Phil Hall
    April 23, 2012 | 9:48 am

    Great article,
    if anyone want a quick boost by 1 follower,
    then please follow me, better still check out my music,

    http://soundcloud.com/cardiobeats

    you might just like it, and a comment gets a comment is my motto,

    Regards,
    Phil

  9. crampo
    May 8, 2012 | 11:32 am

    hahaha bollocks, u just think too muc, chill out and make good music, thats the best way, not all this shit

    • bash
      May 8, 2012 | 12:13 pm

      I get your point on making good music. But it’s sort of tough to make the argument that the best way to do social music networking is not to do any. I know a lot of folks on SoundCloud who post good music, but nobody hears it because they don’t put any effort behind building their social network.

      So how did you build your following on SoundCloud?

  10. Murklin Manners
    June 21, 2012 | 4:02 pm

    Why would you want followers , who only follow you because they feel obliged to? Also, genuinely following someone because you like their music and follow everyone who follows you are two contradictory things.

    I believe that Soundcloud should be used as any other social space. Put up your best music and follow people if you genuinely like their music.

    Fake followers are only a number, it doesn’t really mean anything. I’d rather follow someone because I like their music, then calculating the odds of them following me back.

    I agree with a few tips.

  11. Michael
    September 2, 2012 | 8:04 am

    We follow back, lol, and LCF everyone who follows us! :)
    http://soundcloud.com/theunit5

  12. test
    October 8, 2012 | 6:56 am

    i think following back is the right way to do. when i see big names (e.g. popular websites, software creators, or just those with many followers as well) following back, it makes me wonder why some people are snobbish not following anyone even when they get hundreds of followers.

    though i also understand when abusers who just upload random copy righted content that they don’t own are not followed back, and don’t get many plays.

  13. paco
    May 2, 2013 | 6:41 pm

    Why adopt from the Ukraine when there are so many kids needing adoption domestically?

    • bash
      May 14, 2013 | 12:34 pm

      Simple – because that’s where our children were. Your mileage may vary, of course. Though to be perfectly frank, the only people who have asked me that question have been non-adopters.

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