Soundcloud, Music, and Poetry

An early MTV station ID
An early MTV station ID (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think all of us agree that despite the first hit song on MTV back in the day, video actually did not kill the radio star, though perhaps the internet has changed the landscape so that more stars can rise, and radio is no longer the sole vehicle of spreading an artist’s music. Now MTV doesn’t even play many music videos anyway. So the marketing world is still learning. While the visual can enhance the auditory, there is still something to being able to close your eyes and just listen, or just listen while you do the dishes, fold laundry.

Cue YouTube. But even that isn’t what it used to be, and if you are unlucky enough to have an ancient laptop like mine, it takes longer for videos to load anyway. Movies didn’t kill the reading of novels either, and thus far while there is a place for Kindle and Nook, e-books did not destroy printed books either, despite those who may argue the contrary. The playing field has changed, that’s for sure, but it’s good to have more options rather than fewer, isn’t it?

As the old saying goes, the one constant is change, and it’s good to keep options open, be flexible enough to stretch and grow. It’s part of the fun actually of finding new ways to bring poetry into people’s lives.

You may have noticed that though I used to do a lot of my poetry readings on YouTube, lately I have been using mostly audio, particularly the SoundCloud format.  YouTube lovers, do not worry, I will still do more videos, but as fun as that production is, it does take more time, and not simply because of all the visual elements that need to be edited, but also because frankly, YouTube isn’t as easy to use as it once was. Almost every “upgrade” there has seemed a downgrade to me, with less intuitive controls and defaults. For instance if I go to your YouTube channel, I am going there to see what videos you have made. I am not interested, at least not at first, in what other videos you have clicked like, or commented on. Yet that’s the default they use. It’s truly annoying.

Español: Logo Vectorial de YouTube
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I still hold out some hope that the website will get back some of what made it great, being an easy way for the unknown persons out there to get their work and passions online. Sadly the big names are more and more corporate these days, and it’s harder and harder to get noticed if you are first starting out. That doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, but even the YouTubers who started and became big will tell you that it’s not so easy to build that kind of audience there anymore, and that YouTube is no longer the user-friendly place it once was. Heck, even subscribers don’t get notifications like they once did. Tons of content there, but not much seems streamlined or easy to follow. I’m constantly bombarded with suggestions (as if I’m on Facebook!) on YouTube to watch content that is really of no interest to me, but I have to work, click and search to find the stuff I’m actually subscribed to (click that link above for another YouTuber’s explanation).

Well, that’s my view of it, particularly as it involves my interests in poetry and fun videos with my family. Better for me to have a writing hub like this on the Dad Poet, and make use of what resources are out there, including YouTube and SounCloud. As I said, I still will use YouTube, unless something better replaces it, and I will probably do a feature post here about some of my favorite YouTube poets and readers, but lately I’ve just been having more fun with SoundCloud.  It still has that feel of newness and adventure, but there is just so much content available.

I follow some favorite musicians like Mary Cigarettes and my future sister-in-law Katie Kelly, as well as some favorite NPR programs, including A Way With Words, and programs from the Poetry Foundation. And speaking of the Poetry Foundation, they have a project on SoundCloud called “Record a Poem,” and many of my readings there have been submitted and accepted to that project. It’s fun to follow, and heartening to realize that there are many more lovers of reading poetry out loud than you might have imagined.

Recently I shared with you my elation upon finding two of my poems recorded by SoundClouders Francis Uku and Ygor Raduy, and today I want to introduce you to this talented artist who incorporated my recent reading of Jack Gilbert’s “A Brief for the Defense” into his piece. What a thrill and an honor to play a part in such a skillfully produced piece of music! Thank you, Rainer. And thanks for helping to restore my faith in art and in innovation.

For my original recording of Jack Gilbert’s poem, and the text, click here.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. slpmartin says:

    Okay, so this is probably not be a good comparison with how they mixed you poem with their music…but it did make me think of what Was (Was Not) used to do…and yes this is a song I like…someday I’ll tell you why. 🙂


    1. Yeah, I like this sort of innovation. 🙂


  2. John says:

    I’m with you re: YouTube …. the changes don’t seem to be as user friendly as it they once were, and one really does sometimes have to dig and dig to find what one is looking for. I find that searching Google for the YouTube video I want is easier than searching YouTube itself.

    Soundcloud is relatively easy to use, and the sound is fairly good … and, I think I may end up switching my subscription from the WP upgrade to buying a Soundcloud upgrade. I recently purchased some video software, and hope to start making some poetry videos soon … not images of me reading, but, images with my voice over… we’ll see how it goes.

    i always enjoy your videos … I look forward to seeing more.


    1. One plus on soundcloud over the audio service on WordPress is that for the mobile devices that are not able to play it, there is always a download link on the file. I’ve tried it out and it works on both my samsung tablet and my htc droid.

      I still am curious about the video capabilities on WordPress though, but then at this point I just use YouTube and link it through there and use YouTube itself for just some extra press (since the community there seems to be failing–It’s almost like the the modern economy where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer–big youtubers get more popular while little ones get burried).


  3. Ajaytao2010 says:

    Nice reading about you

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Be in touch. Browse through the category sections, I feel you may find something of your interest.


    1. I enjoy the mix of images and words at your place. Very nice.


    2. Ajaytao2010 says:

      thank you very much sir 🙂 🙂


  4. Shrynah says:

    Thanks for your words, David.

    Actually, it was the “Record-a-project” that led me to your inspiring work. I was looking for a poem that’d fit to another track I was working on. Because I neither have a suitable voice nor fluent english speaking skills this resource was a welcome help (the alternative would have been to read something myself and/or – worse – in my own language).

    I checked some recordings that did not really trigger me but then I clicked on “A brief for the defense”. I got hooked immediately a) by your voice and b) the content. Though it was technically …erm… a noisy recording I knew that I would grab it. I dropped the former project and created something new around this gem.

    The reason why I’ve chosen a Reggae style lies in the poem and the message itself: Reggae has always been a voice talking about the bad things that happen in a society (extended interpretation). But it mostly does not sound sad or negative at the same time. It’s in fact sort of a dance music. Therefore I think it perfectly fits to the poem.


    1. Shrynah says:

      Oops… please exchange “lies” with “lays”…

      I’m sorry for my English – just try my best. 🙂


    2. I agree, I think the Reggae feel is perfect. A friend in Brazil was listening and echoed our same thoughts. That and the photo, the smiling child perhaps from Bombay or Calcutta? 🙂

      And yes, I’m glad you pointed it out. My recordings lately have not been technically stellar, as I am working with an inferior mic, but that one in particular was noisy, which is another reason I was surprised that you were able to do with it what you did.

      I deeply appreciate your generous words about my reading. I was very struck by the poem, along with a few other recent readings. August was a truly difficult time for us here, with the death of a very close friend. These poems were good for the soul, and so the fact that you elevated this reading as you did. You don’t know how good it was for my soul.

      And the lie/lay thing? Oh god, don’t you worry about that. Most native English speakers cannot get that right half the time. I studied German for a few years a long time ago, and lost most of it. . . It was 26 years ago, and I didn’t immerse myself in it like I should have. You write in English extremely well, like my Brazilian friend, and I must brush up on my German again, and learn a bit of Portuguese.


  5. raykevynposton says:



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