SoundCloud is a service for musicians to distribute their music to one another, and eventually the public. It's not a marketplace like iTunes or Amazon though; instead it's a sharing network for musicians looking to hock their demos and get feedback on early tracks. You might be saying to yourself "doesn't MySpace do all that?" Well sort of, but the big difference is that SoundCloud is its own social network and offers more control over where tracks go as well as what bits of metadata come along for the ride.
The entire experience revolves around a fairly simplistic player (example embedded below). There's no volume control, but you can start, stop, and jump around the track freely. It will also analyze the entire track for its waveform, and anyone listening to it can leave a timed comment that will pop up at that point in the song. If you've ever used Viddler the functionality is identical. The folks behind SoundCloud are hoping it will lead to groups possibly leaving feedback about certain parts of a song (kind of an audio version of ConceptShare).
As I mentioned before, one of the standout features is metadata and the user control over it. You can fill out an incredible amount of it for each track, including the catalog number, the release date, and what key it's in. There's also a tempo control in beats per minute (BPM) that you can set manually or simply tap a button as the song plays to determine it on-the-fly. It's just plain fun.
The site is currently in private beta and is continually adding features. If you're a fledgling artist looking for a good platform to start sharing early cuts with your bandmates it certainly beats e-mail attachments hands down. We've got 100 invites for Webware readers, so if you'd like to check it out go here to claim yours.
Disclosure: The track below is from my brother's band Speechwriters LLC. It was used because I was given explicit permission to share it with the SoundCloud community in order to test the site for this review.