shockvaluecola
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make 8tracks usable again


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Hey guys! So 30 minutes of listening time is pretty bullshit, right? But if you have 100 likes across all your mixes, you get more listening time. So if you see this, like it, and then make your own and I'll come like it so we can get each other to 100! Because honestly fuck this business model. Thirty minutes? That's not even one playlist, and songs you skip are included in your listening time. The site is unusable under these conditions.

Tag it '#make 8tracks usable' so we can spread it around!


8 tracks
21 comments on make 8tracks usable again (View all)


#make8tracksusableagain I miss the old 8tracks... if it doesn´t change, then I´ḿ never using this app again. :( Theý´re going to make this site go down. Even Pandora is better than this shit. It´s sad :(

@taeilismo i decided to get it for a couple of months so i can keep using the site normally and see if a userbase still exists by spring. this was heavily influenced by the 8tracks founder coming and having a serious and understanding conversation with me, but no, he didn't just give it to me free.

Hi @shockvaluecola - DP (8tracks founder) here. I know this sucks, and rest assured we wouldn't have taken this tack if we had another choice. My #1 priority is to make sure the service can survive and thrive despite the challenging economics (aka royalties). LMK if you'd be amenable to my writing a fuller explanation in your comments, or I'd also be happy to chat by phone or send a detailed email.

@dp Firstly, thanks for commenting and being willing to engage (to whatever degree you are). I think we all understand the reasoning -- 8tracks needs to make money. I'm fully on board with that, and was actually considering subscribing before the limits came down. My actual problem is in two parts: one, thirty minutes is straight up not enough and makes the site unusable. This is a problem for me as a listener, obviously, because I want to listen to playlists, and also as a creator, because if the site is this unusable how is anyone going to listen to my playlists? What's the point of being here if no one will be listening? Two, I'm very active, I use the site for...I'd say at least ten hours a week. But my friends who barely use the site and have made few or no playlists and have only a handful of likes (so it's not because they've doubled or tripled their listening limit with likes) have two hours. Why is it different for different users, and why do I, super active, have less? I'm sure I don't need to explain why this seems mighty fucking fishy -- it feels like I'm being restricted more because I might be more likely to subscribe.

@dp tl;dr: I get why the site has to make money, I just don't think it's weird to be mad that I can't even listen to one playlist in an entire week.

@shockvaluecola Of course, and sorry it took me so long to respond. One big concern you mention (and we've heard from others) is treating listeners with different limits. Since this is uncharted territory for us -- I sincerely wish we never had to introduce any sort of limit and have been dead-set against it since the beginning, but more on that in a minute -- we introduced 4 different limits at random across our entire user base: one 30-minute limit, one 1-hour limit, one 2-hour limit, and one 4-hour limit. So you're not being handed a tighter limit b/c we think you're more likely to subscribe -- it's truly just random.

@dp That does make more sense than the deliberate squeezing it first appeared to be (assuming you're not a cartoon supervillain, which you are clearly not) so like, I hope you got whatever information you were hoping to get out of that. I think we learned that thirty minutes results in trending protest playlists and that's probably a bad outcome, lol.

@shockvaluecola So, on to the next point: we're not doing this to make (more) money per se, we're doing to this to ensure we don't run out cash and have to shut down the service altogether. There's essentially 2 ways a streaming music business can monetize its activity and create a viable business: advertising & subscriptions. As noted above, I've always been a proponent of an ad-based service, as you can serve a broader audience. The challenge in our case, however, is that the royalties in the US are incredibly expensive (20X the rate in Canada, for example) and have gone up even more in 2016 (we pay $0.0017 per play). In an ad-based model, you can command higher pricing with agencies and brands if you reach a large audience. Agencies would rather not have to buy ads on scores of different sites; rather, if they want to target music fans, they'd prefer to do so on a few large sites. Based on a steep trajectory of growth over 2011-13, we began to build out a direct ad sales team, and we started off well. However, we saw our traffic flatten and even drop in 2014-15, likely in some part due to Spotify's well-funded ascent, and this made it increasingly challenging to sell ads. When we lost a sale, it was typically b/c the business went to a larger competitor in digital music. However, we know that we could drive the growth necessary to be attractive to agencies and brands with sufficient funding. So we sought to raise a proper "Series A" round ($5-6m minimum) through crowdfunding earlier this year, a good fit with our community-focused approach and a better alternative to traditional funding (VCs have largely written off streaming music investments due to the poor economics and fact that Apple and Google/YouTube that can use music as a loss leader). While we saw $33m of initial interest when we surveyed the 8tracks community early this year, we've actually only closed $1.5m over the last 6 months, far short of our target. When ad revenues dropped off due to our scale and this expected funding came in low, we had no choice but to model alternative scenarios to get ourselves on a path back to profitability lest head off the proverbial cliff.

@shockvaluecola Haha, it does bum me out to see trending protest playlists, but it's 100% to be expected (esp given our creative, enterprising community) and that's why I wanted to jump in to provide more details.

@shockvaluecola What we're trying to assess and achieve with the limits is two-fold: (1) reducing the amount of streaming by ad-based listeners, where we now often lose money for every hour streamed (b/c of our current scale and shift to selling ads through third parties instead of a direct sales team), and (2) increasing the number of subscribers (where we can make a positive margin, i.e. sub fee > cost of royalties for that subscribing listeners, on average). The tests we're running now allow us to look at both components to assess the best way forward, considered holistically. We probably *will* have to introduce a fairly tight limit across the board, but we will likely offer a higher (or no) limit for a brand new registered user, so he/she can come to appreciate the full value of the site. We will also have more flexibility in setting limits once we get ourselves back to a sustainable position, so the $ we bring in cover the $ we have to pay out. Fwiw, we also had to cut back staff in a big way: we had 30 some employees a year ago, and as a result of tough layoffs, we're now down to only 10 people to keep overhead low and accelerate our timeframe to get back to profitability.

@dp And I definitely appreciate your willingness to engage and explain! I would say something about my hopes when I made this playlist and how glad I am that those hopes came true but I'll be honest, I made this in three minutes with songs already in my crate when I had literally just woken up, so any loftier hopes I had were but the vaguest of pipe dreams. HOWEVER, my hope now is that, with my (and everyone's) frustration having reached the right ears, we can get to a point where things are at least manageable for both sides, and that other people in the community see y'all coming out and engaging with the problem and that that maybe creates some goodwill among site users -- I don't know about anyone else, but I'm definitely more likely to subscribe knowing that you do at least care that we're unhappy, unlike the sites most of us are used to (coughTUMBLRcough coughLIVEJOURNALjusttotallydatedmyselfcough) which clearly couldn't give a shit about a pissed off userbase. I don't just want to stomp my feet and have the site be gone in a year, you know? There just has to be a middle ground between "thirty minutes a week" and "site dies."

@shockvaluecola 100% - and I sincerely value the feedback the community has expressed. I'm happy to be transparent about all of our decisions around these limits. We're trying to walk a very fine line between the wishes of the big labels that have ultimately resulted in rates being set at the current level (most of our streaming royalties are paid under a "compulsory" license that's part of US law, the rates for which are set in a quasi-judicial process that has historically favored the labels) and the needs of our community for an innovative but affordable (which for some is no doubt free) service. We're doing all we can to avoid ending up in the digital music "graveyard" (for some reason I can't post the relevant link but check out my latest tweet that links to a great post on the challenges of digital music -- my handle on Twitter is 'davidporter').

@shockvaluecola @dp I'm really glad to have come across this exchange. One of the things I'm concerned about is the number of people who have given up on 8Tracks who would have otherwise subscribed. Here in my household, two of us were going to do the $99 lifetime sub as a Christmas gift. TWO. Should that opportunity still be available. Now both of us have been hit with this 30 minute limit and are feeling quite discouraged. We did entertain the idea of doing at least the yearly plan (since the lifetime sub is no longer available, as far as we can tell).

@shockvaluecola @dp Crud... that enter key got me. Which brings me to another concern. One of us has already given up on 8tracks, I am sad to say. I love the service and am still very hopeful, though one of the things that has me worried about throwing my money away is this: What if people buy the lifetime or yearly sub now, and 8tracks goes away? The fear of that happening is there, not just here but with many others I've spoken to on the matter. People who would have otherwise subscribed have now decided to find alternatives or go back to services they were using before. As a potential lifetime/ yearly subscriber, this is very discouraging, because I'm always going to have the doubt in the back of my mind that the service can get shut down and it would all be for not. This perhaps may seem like a selfish way of looking at it, but when you're on a tight budget, every dollar counts. Also, with different people getting different limits, I think it will only further frustrate users. One of the reoccuring themes was that it came on so suddenly and pretty harshly, and it's making 8tracks seem desperate, and in that desperation it's flailing and unwittingly turning off not only it's existing users, but potential future users. I would really like to hear the thoughts on this all. Thanks!

Honestly I think the hilarious thing is that 8tracks sent me a link to this playlist in an email because it's trending ("This mix is trending, like saying "bae" or saying you have a "love/hate" relationship with American Horror Story. But it's a lot more fun than those things." and immediately links to a playlist calling them out for their shitty decisions). Like, whoever picks the playlists to send emails about must not be paying any attention to what they're sending out to everyone? Anyway this is a cool idea, thanks for making this playlist!

@shadowstar755 Ha, I think those are generated randomly, not by a person. But I knew it was trending yesterday and was wondering if that might happen.

 
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