At first use, The Artist Union, a recently launched audio platform and tool for artists, seems like just any other download gate website; an artist you came across has a song up for free download, and they lure you to a third-party website where you have to follow them on SoundCloud to download their track. However, AU offers quite a bit more, especially for artists. Instead of just offering a social networking and streaming aspect like SoundCloud and Spotify or being focused on just the download gate feature like its rival sites such as Hypeddit, Stereoload, Tunebula, and Click.dj, it incorporates both into an useful, interactive environment. It is intended as a place for artists to network, but is still being accessible to ordinary fans. Also, all of its features are completely free, which is more than most platforms can boast.

      Now, for those of you who may be wondering why Toneden was not mentioned, it’s because it is actually quite comparable to AU in many ways, and is, by all means, another good alternative to SoundCloud and offers both social and download gate features. However, AU has more to offer feature-wise compared to Toneden and its other rivals in a number of ways. For one thing, they offer the “Powerscore” feature for users with SoundCloud connected, which takes data such as their number of followers and the popularity of their top followers and generates a number out 100 to give them an idea of how they fare compared to other users and how they’re improving. Users can determine how “elite” they are based on their fanbase and other stats such as favorites and reposts on their tracks. This is a feature unique to any of AU’s  rivals and is an excellent one for attracting and intriguing new users.

      Its social features are rather interesting as well. In addition to being able to connect your SoundCloud account and all its content, you can also link other social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, Twitter, and Instagram, making it easier to transfer and share content between platforms. Users can join others’ “inner circles,” which pledges a like and repost on SoundCloud on all of their new posts, and also contributes to their power score based on how many they have in their inner circle.

      In addition to its other uses, AU is arguably the best website with download gate capabilities because of its wide range of features for helping artists grow their fan base and spread their work. As an artist myself, it is most definitely my download gate website of choice. At very least, it is competitive with other download gate sites with all that it can do in addition to that. It allows unlimited download gates for free, which is rare among its competitors, and is an attracting feature which is great for attracting and retaining users. Besides being able to have fans follow your SoundCloud (and up to 3 other accounts), you can also set it so that they have to favorite and repost the track, like your Facebook page, follow you on Spotify, and even join another person’s inner circle. Users also have the option to swap the download file, which is rare as well, and is, for example, a feature that is only available with a Pro SoundCloud account. One last thing that is available among the download gate options is the ability to make a “music video.” Now, while it may be simple, only including the track artwork in the center with the blurred out artwork filling the background, it can be a very useful feature for artists who don’t have the resources to make videos for their own music. After creating and processing the video, you can upload it to YouTube or share it to other social media.

      As it is a newly developed platform, there are bound to be things that can and will be improved at the developing stage and throughout the lifetime of the site. Other than a continued effort to improve its visual appeal and create simple and logical navigation of the site, which almost all new and developing websites struggle with at first, there are a couple of specific things that I noticed could be improved. For one thing, they have a “Top Downloads” page, where you can browse the most popular songs on the site, which actually is a pretty cool feature. However, when I listened to a track from that page, I decided to go check out the artist who had uploaded it. When I navigated to the other page, the music stopped. One thing I think AU definitely needs is a music menu that is present somewhere on the page throughout the site so that users can continuously listen to music no matter where they are on the site, and pause, play, skip, or scrub through the song from the menu, instead of just having it stop when they navigate away from the page where they found the song. One other thing I would suggest is adding features that will allow users to further develop and customize their profile. Currently, all you can have on your public profile is the tracks that you have available for download and links you your SoundCloud and Spotify profiles. I think that besides adding the ability to add a description to your profile on the side, tracks on profiles should organized in a linear fashion below the name and social links instead of being awkwardly arranged in blurred out squares behind the name, which would make for a much simpler experience for new fans. AU will need to become more accessible to ordinary fans if it wants to really become known.

      Overall, AU is a very well-thought-out platform, and with lots of room to grow and a number of unique and impressive features to boast, it will most definitely grow in popularity among artists and fans. With continued improvements, growing recognition from the EDM community and beyond, and partial independence of platforms like SoundCloud, it definitely has the potential to compete with other networks in the industry.

Check it out: https://theartistunion.com/

Like AU’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/theartistunionofficial/?fref=ts

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