SoundCloud CEO Alex Ljung’s 5 Favorite Sounds

On the occasion of hitting 8.5 million users, the cofounder of the dead-simple, fun, social web audio service shares which recent recordings were music to his ears.



SoundCloud, the beautiful, easy-to-use widget becoming more and more ubiquitous on the web, has reached 8.5 million users–including 50 Cent and Russell Brand. The last million of them were added in the span of 45 days.

For SoundCloud co-founder and CEO Alexander Ljung, a few stand out, incuding the sound of 10,000 bats gettin’ it on.

Soprano Pipistrelle bat swarm, Barnes by London Sound Survey

Ljung also tells Fast Company he’s keen on the way journalists have used SoundCloud to capture stories–such as ABC News Radio’s Dan Patterson recording the sounds of Occupy Wall Street in New York. And he’s been impressed by the way candidates in the San Francisco mayoral race have used it to spread their messages and respond to potential constituents. SoundCloud has also highlighted the sounds of cities and towns across America (see: SoundCloud Local: Ann Arbor).

Ljung, a 30-year-old, self-described “sound geek,” believes audio will surpass video on the web. “There’s nothing that’s as simple to create than sound,” he says. Also, “It’s not a good idea to drive a car and watch a YouTube video at the same time.”


He’s put his money where his sound-maker is, too, relying on a business model supported not by advertising but by paid subscriptions to premium services that allow bigger uploads, easier sharing, and more. He declined to give numbers or percentages of premium users, but he did point us to a few of his favorite SoundCloud embeds, below. 

Hydrophonic ice floe by inovember

One SoundCloud client used an underwater mic to record the sounds of spring–specifically, ice melting. “It’s a beautiful recording when you listen to it with headphones,” Ljung says.

Creepy ice cream truck on Tuesday afternoon by robbymarshall. Uploaded with SoundCloud iPhone

A recent SoundCloud blog post rounded up ice cream truck music from around the country, a favorite of Ljung’s, he said. The one above would given even the most ravenous soft serve gulper the chills. 


The SF Mayoral Race by KALWNews

Where other than San Francisco does it make more sense to use a web widget to cover the mayor’s race? KALW News there has posted a bunch of clips allowing all sorts of candidates to get their messages out.

SF Muni at San Francisco by geO

“We had a conversation recently about the robotic voice on the BART [San Francisco transit] system,” Ljung says. Just for the heck of it, he searched for it on SoundCloud. It was already there.

[Image: Flickr user iSLD]

About the author

Tyler Gray is the former Editorial Director of Fast Company and co-author of the book The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel and Buy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), out in fall 2014. He previously authored The Hit Charade for HarperCollins and has written for The New York Times, SPIN, Blender, Esquire, and others