If you haven’t visited SoundCloud before, then this is one of those sites where you can stream pretty much all kinds of music. I’m not an avid user myself but it seems that most of the popular artists have accounts over there where they release their work. So it is similar to Youtube (for artists I mean), except instead of music videos there is only audio.

On those rare occasions when I have used it, I’ve wondered, how this platform actually works. Well, it uses some kind of Flash player to actually play audio files. But where does this audio file come from? To get a better look at what’s going on, it’s good idea to open up the Developer Tools. The Network tab reveals requests which browser makes. When clicking on the orange play button, browser downloads a file called soundmanager2_flash9.swf. Quick google search reveals that it is some kind of tool for playing audio files on the web.

After downloading the SoundManager file, couple more requests are made which are not that interesting right now. But one of those requests are named in the Network tab as follows <12_random_characters>.128.mp3?<more_parameters>. After clicking on it to see more details regarding the request, the .mp3 file link is shown as the Request URL.

So it turns out, browser just pulls the audio file and then plays it with that SoundManager tool. That link also contains an interesting parameter: AWSAccessKeyId which indicates that probably they use S3 as storage. I played different songs and some of them were pulled from akamaihd.net domain which should belong to some kind of content delivery network.

To conclude, it is quite easy to determine the URL of an audio file which is played on SoundCloud. If you are reading this and thinking that you can now start download music, please hold on - just open the SoundCloud Terms of Use and read the “Your Use of the Platform”. It states that you must not copy, rip or capture (or even attempt to) any audio from that site. So please, do not download any content from SoundCloud using this method.

This blog is only for educational purposes. I take no responsibility for any of your actions which you decide to take after reading this post.

tags: soundcloud mp3 download