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What are SoundCloud Plays?
Soundcloud Plays is a term used to describe the number of times users have visited your Soundcloud track.
These individual plays will be recorded under the 'Plays' section on your song's page. Every time one of your tracks gets played, you'll see how many plays it has received next to its title on whichever playlist it is housed. As well as this, you'll also see at what time each play took place and which country that user was listening from, too, just like with any other social media platform that offers some analytics prowess.
The total number of plays will not be an accurate number because if someone listens to multiple songs on one playlist, it will count as one play only, so you'll need to check out your play count for each individual track and add them up yourself.
You'll also notice that the number of plays will sometimes fluctuate even if you don't post anything new; this is because it doesn't update in real-time and adjusts itself every few hours or so.
You can get a lot of views from Soundcloud by uploading songs that people like and encouraging likes and comments on your tracks. If you're looking to get more Soundcloud Plays, try making links to other songs on your profile (which are all set to the public anyway) but only upload songs that have high-quality mastering because users won't want to listen to low-quality songs in general.
The more likes, comments, reposts, etc., you get on your tracks, the higher chance you'll have of making it popular and receiving more plays, etc.
You can also get a lot of SoundCloud Plays by getting certain accounts to follow you or repost one or two of your songs (depending on how big their following is). There are several other methods like this where people will offer services for money, but all these methods should be avoided unless you're looking for an easy way out, which is not the best idea because it's pretty much cheating.
The best way would probably be uploading high-quality tracks, promoting them yourself, and letting them sell themselves through word of mouth.
Another thing that helps with getting good results on SoundCloud is having original content that isn't just another cover or remix of an already popular song. People are getting sick and tired of the same old songs, so anything new is most likely to attract more attention than something people have heard before.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't upload covers or remixes, they can be used very effectively as promotion tools but don't rely on them solely, or you'll find it a lot harder to get noticed.
Unfortunately, if you're looking for Soundcloud Plays, there isn't much else to say other than you need to make good music and put a decent amount of effort into promoting your tracks.
"That's great! But how many Soundcloud Plays should I aim for?"
Good question; that depends on what genre of music you are producing and who your target audience is. For example, if you're producing electronica/dubstep music, then 100-500 plays might be all you need to get your song noticed by bigger accounts so they can share it further and double the exposure for yourself. The opposite is true for genres like pop or country, where there's a lot more competition; in this case, you'll probably want to aim for at least 5k+ plays just so people will take notice of your songs.
If you're producing heavy metal music, your tracks probably won't spread much further than local gigs, etc., unless you already have good exposure elsewhere because most people don't really appreciate the style of music, which means it is hard to make it popular with very little exposure.
"That's all well and good, but how do I actually get people to listen to my music?"
There are several ways you can go about promoting yourself on Soundcloud, but they aren't guaranteed, so it will take a lot of patience, determination, and perseverance. Track tags are very important because these are what people use to find songs related to theirs, so make sure your track is tagged with similar-sounding music, i.e., electronica/dubstep should be tagged with dubstep, trance, etc. You can also pay Soundcloud promotion companies to get your tracks on SoundCloud suggested tracks, tracked by music blogs, and also shared with relevant accounts, which can all help to gain you more exposure. You can also do what's called 'boosting' your tracks which means buying fake plays, comments, likes, etc. This is definitely not the best route to take because you'll be spending money on something that doesn't really contribute anything worthwhile and, more often than not, will give off a false sense of success.
"How do I get my music onto Soundcloud suggestions?"
You'll need to have at least 2k plays for this option which is quite a lot considering most people are happy with 100-500 but if that's what you're aiming for, then great, go ahead because it will be well worth the wait. Getting your music on SoundCloud suggestions means there's a chance someone else could stumble across your track while browsing suggested tracks and repost it, so again your exposure would double along with other benefits like having more people finding you easier through search or other playlists.