The Death of 8tracks

8tracks a streaming website announced it’s shutting down operations, here is an obituary for the same.

I am always trying to find new sources to discover new music, so when a new website comes up with an innovative way to discover music, I always get excited. Somewhere in 2014, I discovered 8tracks through a Facebook post and it was honestly the beginning of me deep diving into discovering music.

8tracks launched in 2008 with an idea that users (DJ) of the website can create their own playlists of the songs that they have uploaded or can create a playlist of already existing music. As a listener of the playlist you could not go back to the previous song, there was a set number of songs you could skip in a playlist and the most important you did not know any songs that have been uploaded in a playlist. The only thing to guide you if you want to listen to a playlist or not was the name of the playlist, the cover art that was uploaded by the user and the tags that were used to describe the music.

The interface seems a bit weird but it was actually a great way to just discover new music without any pre conceived notion. Plus, tags were great, they were user generated and could be either a mood the genre or music or just about anything.

8tracks was better than SoundCloud because it was not filled with covers of original tracks and upcoming musicians and was better than YouTube because of the curated playlists. And not knowing what would be the next track you always had something new to look forward to. A lot of artists/songs I still listen today are thanks to many playlists curated on 8tracks.

Sadly in 2016 they ran into some copyright issues and had to restrict their services in US and Canada. I slowly forgot about them shifted back to YouTube and then discovered Spotify. A few days ago, 8tracks announced that after 31st December 2019 they will shut down their services. This is in line of a lot of streaming companies shutting shop.

Online music streaming is a ridiculous business, it needs a lot of cash to pay royalties that almost no company has. Spotify reported profits for the first time in 2019 after 13 years of existence. Even though none of these streaming services are not making money, all record labels claim that they don’t get paid enough. Artists still don’t make enough money usually the larger chunk is kept by the label.

8tracks in a lot of ways how I listen to music and how I think about it, it’s sad to see it could not survive. Shutting down of 8tracks is a gentle reminder as to the question that who actually makes money in the music business and is there a need for radical change in how the business of music is run?

Here is a link of the official blog post of the founder explain the 8track story

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