We feel a bit like we're rats suggesting that SoundCloud
is a sinking ship that we're going to desert but right now, this week, there is reason to make certain you have all of the audio you've uploaded there. It will be a blow if the company closes as a result of poor financial returns, as it's a service we've enjoyed personally and we continue to use professionally: you can hear every one of the MacNN podcast shows on there
. Nonetheless, the firm has announced serious financial losses and while we hope they can turn it around, we don't want you (or us) to lose any of our audio on there.
This Pointers is about a few ways to get your work off it. Note that we keep saying your work and your audio: what we tell you here will get you any audio that exists on SoundCloud but it's meant for material you own. We'll survive if we can no longer stream the top 50 music tracks played on SoundCloud this week, but losing audio you've created is harder to bear.
This Pointers was tested on a late 2012 iMac but everything should work with any OS X system. We've yet to find any iOS method of downloading audio from SoundCloud but then we haven't really looked and you probably won't either: if you're making audio to upload anywhere, you're using a Mac. This also means the rights issue is clearer than usual: this is your work, you're preserving it.
The very, very best answer
In an ideal world you don't have to download anything at all because you've already got it. When word broke about SoundCloud's continuing losses, the first messages that went around MacNN
were to do with exactly that. MacNN
runs three different –– very different –– podcasts and each has a different producer so each was asked to check they had the master audio files.
Fortunately in every case the answer was yes and in all but one cases the answer was yes plus we've backed it up. Actually, all three answered exactly that way but someone possibly listed at the end of this article just took a few more minutes to answer it as he hurriedly copied files around.
So as an organisation MacNN
is fine, which is nice for us, but individually the situation is much less clearer: many of us have uploaded various recordings over the years and half of the issue is having a copy, half is knowing that we do. The most certain way to know you've got everything is to download it again to be sure.
Did you upload it?
This is the easy part. Click on the pencil icon on your track listing to edit the line item. Click permissions, then click "enable downloads." Save your changes, and download your track, in all of its uploaded glory.
However, what if you really want to save something that the owner hasn't granted permission to download?
Streaming and downloading
There is a slow but potentially enjoyable way to get wanted audio back and that is to listen to it –– while re-recording it. If you already have Audio Hijack 3 then use that: point it at a browser, load up SoundCloud and start listening to everything.
At $50, Audio Hijack 3 isn't exactly expensive but it's not a casual purchase either. So don't purchase it casually, purchase it with determination and gusto: as we've said before
, you tend to buy Audio Hijack for one job and then discover you are continually using it for all manner of things. Let this be the one job you buy it for.
However, use your powers for good. Only download tracks that you have clear ownership for, for personal use, and don't use it to pirate music.
We would recommend that you use it to capture audio from a different browser to the one you regularly use. Audio Hijack will grab and record all audio from a browser or any other application you tell it to, but the odds are that halfway through streaming the best radio episode you ever made, you'll think of something, need to open a new tab –– and accidentally come to a website that automatically plays adverts and music. If you're a Safari user, get Chrome or Firefox and have Audio Hijack 3 record from those.
There is one more way to do this downloading from SoundCloud and while it means using third-party online services we've never heard of before, it has the advantage that you can get your audio quickly. As entertaining as it hopefully is to listen to the MacNN
podcast One More Thing
, for instance, there are 25 episodes of this half-hour show so that's just over half a day's listening and re-recording. With these services we estimate you'd need around six minutes total.
We'd like to be able to give you one cast-iron recommendation of the single service to use but we can't yet. The best we can do for now is tell you of the two that we've used and what you do with them.
The two we've used are Anything2MPs
and the difference between them is entirely cosmetic. They both need you to have copied the URL of an audio track you want –– click on SoundCloud's share button and you'll get an option to copy that address from there. If you've ever shared a YouTube video, it looks practically identical.
Paste that address into either Anything2MP3 or SoundCloudMP3 and they will convert the stream into an MP3 file. Both then need you to click a download button to then get that MP3 onto your computer and –– hand on heart –– we wondered if that's when we would see some kind of subscription offer or other way to pay money. There isn't one: both of these services just download the audio when you tell them to.
As we say, your and our primary concern has to be the preservation of audio material we've worked hard on. While we type with crossed fingers that SoundCloud will prevail, let's make sure we're backed up now.
-William Gallagher (@WGallagher