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Akdong Musician

Internet DJ: why SoundCloud’s world music channel works

Several weeks ago I gave a rather bad grade to SoundCloud’s “explore” classical channel, but I’ve been checking out other channels, and the service’s “world” stream is much better. A lot of really marvelous Japanese, South Korean, Chinese, Arabic, and Indian content there.

Among the best tracks I’ve heard: Time and Fallen Leaves. A fine piece from the South Korean K-pop duo group Akdong Musician. These kids are originally from Mongolia, but made their way back to South Korea to get into the music biz. Seems like it’s working so far. Light guitar playing accompanying a beautiful soprano vocal track.

Meanwhile SoundCloud user H. Salah has an outstanding stream of classic Egyptian vocals; I would definitely check out the Bollywood tracks being offered by Old Punjabi Gold; and Africa Groove has a lovely Tiwa Savage hit, My Darlin.

Why does SoundCloud’s “world” channel work so much better than its classical channel? I think that the amorphousness of the concept of World Music lends to its success in this instance. World Music was always a sort of neo-Colonial idea, after all. Think about it: when was the last time you saw Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus on a World Music playlist? Never, yet they’re part of “the world,” right? In the end, “World Music” is generally the First World looking at and listening to the Third. But the sheer messy globalness of the genre makes it much easier to curate via categories and tags.

SoundCloud is just vacuuming up users and listeners, it should be noted. Tech Crunch says that its heading for no less than 200 million listeners a month. And its revenues are also jumping, Euro-wise: from 8 million in 2013 to 14 million in 2014. But the service’s operating losses have more than doubled, from around 12 to 23 million over the same period.

We cover Internet DJ content every Monday at Radio Survivor.


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