This year’s electoral race feels like high school all over again. Not because of the mud-slinging or the juvenile nature of politics, but because every media company seems to be rushing to create an “election hub,” a one-stop source for the latest gossip (and that’s what it is, gossip) about the Presidential race.
Stitcher Radio and its “Election Center” was the first notable example of a tech company throwing its hat into the electoral coverage circle jerk, but Google and Microsoft (via YouTube and Xbox, respectively) have created their own “hubs” as well. There are more examples of companies openly rushing to leverage technology to help the masses follow the electoral race, but one company is notable absent: SoundCloud.
Founded in 2007 by Swedes Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss, SoundCloud has taken the Web by storm in recent months. The service has partnerships with Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter, and has become the platform of choice for musicians that want a cheap way to share songs with their audiences. “When we decided to rebuild we said, ‘We are integrating with SoundCloud because they’re the best, and they are essentially taking over audio.’” Limited Run’s Nick Mango told me earlier this year.
Given its broad reach, then, I was surprised to find that SoundCloud hadn’t announced an election hub of its own. Curious, I asked Manolo Espinosa, the company’s head of audio, why there isn’t a “SoundHub” for updates on the presidential race. “For us it’s more about us helping our partners do what they do, which is recording great content and distributing it,” he says. “We didn’t think we’d need to have a lounge.”
And boy does SoundCloud have some high-level partners, including CNN Radio, the Huffington Post, and Mitt Romney’s campaign team. One SoundCloud user, Dan Patterson, has been using the service to record behind-the-scenes audio snippets and broadcast shows covering politics, technology, and culture since leaving ABC News earlier this year.
Much like a rhythm guitarist, SoundCloud is happy to stay in the background. Not familiar with the term “rhythm guitarist”? Exactly. The rhythm guitarist is the guy in the background that has to work with the vocalist, drummer, bassist, and other guitarist to make sure the entire thing sounds like a cohesive whole. SoundCloud has been iterating for the last five years to handle the increasing expectations that bands, independent journalists, and large media companies carry when they sign up for the service.
“Being able to take someone’s creation and getting it out there further and better and faster than anybody else is what we do,” Espinosa says. Focusing on the back-end aspect of the service and profiting from the election by allowing content creators to share what they’ve made won’t put SoundCloud in the forefront of consumers’ minds, but it’s refreshing to see a company go heads-down and focus on its product instead of hopping on the latest trend.
[Image courtesy tmjwatson]