8tracks, the internet radio and streaming platform is shutting down on December 31, 2019. According to founder David Porter, the company could no longer afford to cover royalty payments through its free, ad-supported service or a subscription model. Porter wrote in a blog that “8tracks has had a long run and its day in the sun. We’re sad to announce, however, that the company and its streaming service will wind down with the end of the decade, on December 31st, 2019. We have mixed feelings as we round out this decade and the life of 8tracks.”
8tracks launched on August 8, 2008 at a time of innovation and optimism. Each playlist was represented visually by its mix art. The site arrived just a couple of years before Instagram and DJs could apply freeform tags to describe a playlist by genre, artist, activity, mood or other theme.
On the 8tracks blog, it states, “One could blame ‘the music industry’ for the travails of 8tracks, the path to the grave has been well trodden by many digital music startups these last 20 years. But the challenges run deeper, and I think it’s instructive to consider the perspective of the artist and label. As technology has advanced, the atomic unit of consumption has shifted, from prepayment for consumption of all the songs in an album (the CD), to prepayment for use of a single song (the download), to pay-as-you-go for an individual song (the stream). With each step, the artist (and anyone who represents that artist, like a label) gets paid less and later; with each step, the listener gains more flexibility in paying for and consuming what they want, when they want it.”
Their blog also states that more than 40,000 tracks are added to Spotify every day, and various forms of digital entertainment and information. It describes that the rabbit hole of YouTube, games, apps, blogs, newsletters and more compete for the attention of the youthful demographics that traditionally consume the most music. Porter also shared, “We served many listeners and DJs well, at important times in their lives, for more than a decade, introducing adventurous listeners to new artists they may never have otherwise discovered, and for that we’re proud. On the other hand, we recognize we’ve disappointed many listeners and DJs, employees, investors and partners. We all wish we’d had the opportunity to continue to innovate in the music sector and serve our community and other stakeholders well, just as we had in our earlier years.”