8tracks was acknowledged as one of the "50 Best Websites List" by Time Magazine. 
David Porter, the founder of 8tracks, claims his idea has been in development since 1999 during his time at the Haas School of Business in Berkeley, California. Napster's "Hotlist" feature was a large influence for 8tracks. In this feature, users were able to add other users to this "hot list" and that in turn was able to give them access to that user's entire music library. After spending three years in London before business school, Porter became fascinated by the culture and social nature of London's electronic music scene and thus drafted a business plan to attract the attention of venture capital firms. Because of his inexperience in business, he joined Live365 to cement his knowledge before deciding to finally found 8tracks in 2006.
Tagging is one of the key features of 8tracks. Tags are words describing the music in a mix. These are typically genres, such as 'Classical' or 'Folk', but they can also describe events or emotions, such as 'Summer' or 'Sad'. DJs must tag their mixes with at least two tags before publishing them to ensure that mixes can be easily found and are uniformly labeled. The tag feature is extremely user-friendly; to choose a mix, listeners can either search for a mood, genre, or artist, or they can click on popular tags that appear in a cloud. When a tag is selected from the cloud, the cloud reloads to show similar tags to the one that was chosen. This feature helps listeners to find the perfect mix to listen to. Listeners may select up to three tags to seed mixes.
Social Media Integration
8tracks has integrated social media sites into its design in order to heighten the social aspect of the site. Users creating accounts on the site have the option to log in with Facebook. By logging in through Facebook, the 8tracks application is automatically added to the user's profile so that others can see favorite tracks and recent activity. The incorporation of Facebook on 8tracks allows it to become a more personalized music site because users can effortlessly share mixes with friends and even "follow" other users by subscribing to the mixes they create. In addition to syncing Facebook with 8tracks to share music, users also have the ability to share via Twitter, Tumblr, Stumpleupon, Google+, Pintrest, and email.
Not only can users share music over a broad range of social media, but they can also listen to music directly from YouTube. As a song is playing, there is a button that allows users to watch the song's video on YouTube. The video is integrated directly into the same page as the playlist so that users can effortlessly transition from listening via 8tracks to listening via YouTube without interruption.
Mobile Device App
8tracks has a free app for both Android and iOS devices. The newest version of the app includes features such as radio-style playlists based on mood or occasion, full-screen album artwork, and the ability to find and invite friends. 8tracks claims that about one-third of their total users come from mobile devices. The company hopes to increase the number of mobile streamers with their newest app update, in attempts to mirror Pandora’s user base, which sees 2/3 of users streaming via mobile devices.
Everyone can listen to mixes for free, regardless of whether or not they have an account. Unlike other free music applications such as Pandora or Spotify, no ads interrupt mixes on 8tracks - only visual ads are used on the site. On the home page, listeners can either select multiple tags to sort the mixes or enter favorite artists to get recommended mixes. The range of tags spans from Folk to Dubstep and everything in between. Listeners can also comment on, favorite, and share mixes.
Anyone with an account can be a DJ. DJs can add a title, image, description, at least 2 tags, and at least 8 tracks. They also have the option to mark mixes as unlisted, which makes them private, or not safe for work (NSFW), which hides them from users who opt-in to a filter. When a DJ uploads songs to the site, they appear in a list next to where the mix is created. There is also a list of tracks from SoundCloud provided by 8tracks for DJs to add to their mix. DJs can share mixes via Google+ and Facebook. Each DJ has a profile which can be accessed by clicking on their name or avatar. This page displays the user's basic information such as their location, a short bio that they can add, their Twitter handle, or any other website related to them that they would like to have featured. In addition, one can see all the mixes they've published, how many users follow them, and how many people they follow. To add a particular DJ's mixes to your feed, you can follow the DJ. Every time a DJ is followed their mixes is displayed on your feed in reverse chronological order. DJs have the ability to follow other users as well.
8tracks has an API which developers can use to build an 8tracks player. There is also a forum where developers can ask questions to peers or staff. Both official and third-party apps are available for listeners to use. The API requires an API key and offers a variety of data which can be used to create an app. Official 8tracks apps are available for iPhone, Android, and Mac. In order to comply with copyright laws, developers must record and give the number of plays of each song to 8tracks.
Artists are able to promote their music on 8tracks with a special account that gives them an artist tag. They are able to create mixes with a combination of their own and others' music or to post full albums via a content-owner account. By using 8tracks to promote their music, fans have the chance to interact with the artists. Notable artists who use 8tracks to promote their music include: Metric, Bassnectar, Caronlina Liar, and B.o.B.
In order to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, 8tracks has licenses with ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. Since the site is non-interactive, such compliance is able to hold. This allows the site to transmit publicly released sound recordings as long as certain conditions are met. For example, there is a limit on the number of songs by a certain artist during a three-hour time period, and the site pays 1/7 of a cent in royalties for every track streamed. Listeners are only able to skip an allotted number of tracks per hour, and the listener cannot determine the sequence the mix is heard. However, there are still many ways to get around this. 8tracks is useful for people in that it provides new music to users, but they can use this to be introduced to the music and just pirate the material off of a different website. It is obviously not a direct way of pirating, but it can help people pirate music that they did not know about before.
Much of 8tracks would qualify as NSFW. Although 8tracks does have an NSFW filter, this does not guarantee that something hasn't slipped through the cracks, as it is up to the users and not the company to flag content. Many mixes on the site contain appropriate music, yet the mixed image is inappropriate, sometimes verging on pornographic. This causes problems because users who must filter playlists can only access a limited number of mixes. Users have complained, suggesting that the site changes the filter options to include blocking only a flagged picture, but keeping the playlist viewable. The admin's response as of November 2011 was that this idea was being worked on, but so far, no changes to the filter have been implemented.
A positive ethical implication of the use of 8tracks is increased exposure to fledgling musicians. While it is true that the discovery of music can lead directly to pirating that same music, there is another market of people who do purchase music they enjoy. When songs are being played, the user is offered links to stores and social media pages, when available. These can include link to the iTunes Store, Bandcamp, YouTube, and others. With no legal incidents in the life of the 8tracks service so far, it seems logical to conclude that it is to the advantage of musicians that they are included on 8tracks, rather than a disadvantage.
8tracks has begun offering their user-curated playlists platform to brands looking to open channels of communication with consumers. For example, companies such as Threadless and Sony both created campaigns that try to create consumer participation by challenging them to create their own playlists and having fans "like" playlists that they like.
8tracks also partnered with Feature.fm which offered artists the opportunity to play their songs as sponsored tracks to people that are listening to the same style of music as that specific artist.