Mix sharing vs personal listening

04Aug08

There’s a subtle but important distinction between what 8tracks offers as compared with what Last.fm or Pandora provide.

I enjoy both Last.fm and Pandora and have written about them in the past.  Both deliver a radio-style experience that is personalized based on one’s preferences, as captured explicitly (I enter the name of an artist) or tacitly (AudioScrobbler tracks what I listen to on iTunes).  Last.fm applies collaborative filtering to create a personalized playlist, while Pandora uses the results of the Music Genome project to do so.  This is a great way to discover new music.

8tracks also provides a passive, radio-style experience.  But the programming is done by people who love and know music, not algorithms.  In many cases, the resulting playlist contains music that is “similar” but extends beyond the sound itself to contemplate social context, era, a theme or other factors.  In addition, the human element lends the opportunity for eclecticism and serendipity that may be absent from an purely algorithmic approach.

As I mention in our About section, our basis for taking this approach is rooted in compelling shared programming of times past:  think radio in the 1970s, mixtapes in the 1980s, and DJ culture in the 1990s through today.  Everyone knows a few people who know great music — the friends that introduce you to new (or old) music, that make compilation CDs, or that are “real” DJs and play out somewhere.  Our goal is to give these people an simple way to reach a larger audience.

Which leads to another critical point:  8tracks is not about “personal listening” in the sense of a user goes to 8tracks.com and makes a playlist and then turns around and listens to it himself or herself.  That is not the objective of the service.  Rather, we seek to provide a useful, legitimate platform so that those relatively rare people with the knowledge and time to make great playlists can do so for others who love music and want to discover new artists, but who simply don’t have the time to do so themselves.

That’s what we’re about:  to help the majority of our users save time and kick back, while giving the music mavens (to use a Gladwell-ism) a simple solution to exercise their craft online.

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2 Responses to “Mix sharing vs personal listening”

  1. 1 rickdog

    are you tracking nutsie.com?

  2. I’ve heard about them. I ought to be tracking these guys as it looks like they’re really taking off.

    Check this Compete.com result vs Hype Machine, for example: http://siteanalytics.compete.com/nutsie.com+hypem.com/?metric=uv


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