8tracks, the venerable, crowdsourced, highly differentiated streaming music service which shut off at the end of 2019 is back. Thanks to a new investor who acquired some of 8tracks’ assets, the web app has reopened, with a promise to activate mobile apps next.
Jeff Treichel is the new CEO who organized the investment in the 8tracks brand and assets. An angel fundraising round created an ownership entity called BackBeats, which is the holding company for 8tracks. 8tracks streaming started up again yesterday in the U.S. Canadian streaming will be resumed soon.
Treichel, with a Harvard MBA, has an entrepreneurial background full of CEO, Board, Investor, and Advisor titles.
The unique 8tracks model will apparently be resumed. The service name comes from a playlist model in which users can build public mini-stations that must contain at least eight tracks. A vast tagging system offers granular searching for playlists which can be saved to any user’s account. Ad-supported listening was free during the original 8tracks run, and that is the case today, in our testing. Subscriptions were available in the old incarnation, eliminating the ads.
RAIN learned of 8tracks’ revival from a Facebook post by David Porter, the founder and past leader of 8tracks. The service went through many business phases in a long run after its founding in 2008. for some period the business was profitable, while offering a music catalog that relied heavily on SoundCloud embedding. That source disappeared when SoundCloud altered its sharing parameters; later, 8tracks developed music licensing deals with labels — always an expensive cost item in the music streaming industry.
In mid-206 8tracks started an unusual (at the time) crowdfunded investment round based on a then-new Regulation A opportunity to offer shares directly to the public, outside of the usual structured equity markets. The effort was both an affirmation and a test of the service’s strongly bonded and loyal community. Even now, as the platform reopens with new ownership, the principle of community is a guide and founding rationale for the investment — the word “community” appears in each of the four brief sentences which explain Treichel’s motivation for the relaunch:
“8tracks has always been about its community — music lovers who carefully curate playlists, tell a story through the thoughtful selection of music and art, share personal moments and perspectives.
“The community is also a wide-eyed collective of listeners, hopeful and looking to find inspiration through music and connections with like-minded fans.
“Four years ago, 8tracks even raised funding from this community in a pioneering crowdfunding round, allowing listeners and DJs to own a stake in the company.
“We hope you see it is only fitting, then, that a few of us from the community have banded together to bring 8tracks back after its effective shutdown on New Year’s Eve.”
(Bold type added by RAIN.)
Treichel promises a “phased launch” starting with free listening in browsers as the iOS and Android mobile apps are gradually revived. The new owners plan to “conservatively manage royalties.” For now, users cannot create new playlists, but most of the existing playlists are back from the dead. Existing subscriptions will be honored for their original duration. There is no mention of advertising, and in our listening today we did not encounter any commercials.