At the beginning of this year, the beloved internet radio and music and playlist streaming service, 8tracks, shut down. The innovative company, that got its start in 2008 when mp3s and the iPod shuffle reigned supreme, announced via a blog post written by CEO David Porter on December 26th, 2019 that it would wind down as the decade closed out.
Although not alone in the category of music streaming services, 8tracks was certainly unique. It was a platform that not only allowed you to stream music by your favourite artists but also gave you the opportunity to discover new, underground acts via playlists created by people all over the world. And these playlists were organized by tags. You could browse playlists by the mood or vibe you were in, what activity you need a soundtrack for, by genre, artist, decade, the list goes on. Of course, this structure was emulated by other streaming sites in the years to follow.
In its early years, 8tracks showed unwavering promise. A few playlists went viral on StumbleUpon (remember that?!) taking their active users from 30k to 300k in one month. Funding rolled in, full-time employees were brought on, 8tracks was on the right track. Google even reached out in 2013 to explore an acquisition, which 8tracks politely declined. They were passionate about their product and wanted to see where they could take it.
But then, in late 2013, Spotify’s free mobile streaming service launched. Many 8tracks listeners made the jump, investors backed out, and their most recent success landed them in a higher category which meant higher royalty payouts. On the plus side, they had partaken in a Soundcloud integration that allowed DJs (playlist creators) to add Soundcloud music to their 8tracks playlists, however, Soundcloud ended that integration in 2015.
What 8tracks knew they had, though, was a dedicated community. They tried their hand at crowdfunding to save the operation, raising just under $2M. However, it wasn’t enough. They could no longer afford to pay their team, resulting in major layoffs.
8tracks tried a number of strategies to keep the streaming service afloat. From a new subscription model to the introduction of audio ads, they worked to bring in revenue, but unfortunately, the listener count took too much of a hit. They brought in firms to find buyers for the company, however, even a low-balling prospective buyer backed out last minute.
Ultimately, 8tracks couldn’t generate enough revenue to cover royalty costs. Things are changing. People want all of their music needs to be met under one roof and that’s what Spotify is doing.
Those who were active members of the 8tracks community don’t need to worry that the endless hours they put into creating a playlist to accurately capture that mood they were on a fall Monday afternoon in 2011 are all for nothing. If you’ve ever published on 8tracks, you’ll receive an email including the mix name, art, description and tracklist for each. You can also export any playlist to Spotify by hitting the “Save Playlist to Spotify” button. There’s no guarantee that all of the songs are supported by Spotify, but 80-90% should be. 8tracks has warned users that they are unsure of how long the website will stay up and running, so to act fast get a copy of those playlists you worked so hard on.
So sadly, we bid farewell to 8tracks, the streaming site that was the soundtrack to many late-night dance parties, got you amped for the big game, or kept you company during your angsty teen years. You’ll be missed.
Need some inspiration for your next playlist? Check out our interview with Teknoclash. If 8tracks isn’t around to show you new music, we’ll make it our job to.