Sorry hipsters, the headline above isn’t signaling an underground resurgence of 8-track tapes, the music format that was popular in the ’70s. And if that disappoints you, I have to apologize again because it means you’re a massive toolbag.
8tracks is an Internet radio service that lets you create your own custom mixes (aka playlists) based on a specific mood, theme, or subject. You can upload from your personal collection or pull tracks from cloud-music platform SoundCloud. Mixes, which must be a minimum of 30 minutes in length, can be shared with the 8tracks community and played on a variety of connected devices. And if you don’t feel like building your own playlist, there are over 600,000 pre-existing mixes created by popular 8tracks user DJs.
As for the new iOS app, 8tracks features a brand-new user interface that’s far more responsive and intuitive than the previous version. You can now use gesture controls to browse through stations and mixes, view full-screen album artwork, and use a new discovery tool based on musical genre and mood. The app is compatible with the new iPhone 5 and currently doesn’t contain any advertising.
After playing with 8tracks iOS app for a few hours, I have to say it provides a nice mix of new and undiscovered music without making me work for it. The mixes and stations I streamed were somewhat similar to indie radio stations minus the unnecessary radio host banter, weather and traffic updates.
Much like rival music services, 8tracks generates revenue through a combination of advertising, ad-free paid subscriptions , and special promotions. Yet, one thing that makes 8tracks stand apart from competitors — not just in features or method of music discovery — is its success in making the service profitable. 8tracks CEO David Porter told me that the startup made a “modest profit” during the last quarter.
8tracks has an average of 5 million active users per month that listen to more than 10 million hours of music collectively.
Founded in 2006, the San Francisco, Calif.-based startup has previously raised a total of $1.4 million in funding to date from Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, SoftTech, SPA, English DJ Pete Tong, and 7digital founder Ben Drury. It faces competition from Pandora, Songify, Fuzz, and many others.