There are a number of forces which have pushed music to it's current place, and certainly one of the biggest of those forces has been the internet. The shift from CD to MP3, the emergence of pirating, and the new online communities in which music is listened to and created in are some of the major effects the internet has had on music. SoundCloud, being one of the biggest music sites on the web, is inarguably a part of this movement.
In the Youtube comment section, for example, people seem to be a lot more open to heated discussion and confrontation than the average group of strangers would be. But also there is a lot of room for community in the Youtube comment section. If a group of commenting individuals are subscribed to the same channel and are excited about the same material in a particular video, then the comment section can be almost like a dedicated forum celebrating some topic: a real community that happens to be made of people who don't know each other.
This brings me to SoundCloud. So I've been using SoundCloud for something around a year now and have grown to know it fairly well. I have noticed a number of features which effect the way SoundCloud changes its users' behavior. When you first become part of SoundCloud, you're encouraged to follow people, causing your music feed to be updated when the artist you follow uploads or shares anything. On the right side of the screen there's also a column named 'Who to Follow', under which there're a few very popular artists. You're also encouraged to become part of SoundCloud premium; which offers those who pay a number of benefits which may assist them in more effectively amassing a large audience. So far two important things to consider while using SoundCloud have been proposed by the website. Firstly that it's important to be followed by a lot of people, and secondly that this goal can be assisted in adverse ways, like paying money.
People can leave comments on songs, but rather than in a section they're at certain moments of the music, and only appear for that moment when the song is playing. This is a cool idea, but logistically means that someone's comment will probably only be read for like 2 seconds before the song moves on and the comment is minimized. This creates a community seeking firstly to get followers and is limited to commenting only 3 or 4 words. The SoundCloud community is a lot of other things too, like massive and active. But it feels to me that at it's core it is shallow.
It's possible that the team which created SoundCloud had to sacrifice the level of engagement of its users to allow the site to grow and be competitive, but this fundamental aspect of using it has always felt bad to me. And truthfully, I probably am going to continue using this site, because I feel it is unique among online music sites and does do some things very well. I hope that one day I can use the site and not feel gross about it though.