As I’ve found myself saying far too frequently of late, “How has it been [some number] years since [some event] already?!” So it is with our ninth birthday, which feels to have come fast on the heels of our eighth. I’ve created a celebratory playlist for this special day, just as I did on the day of our launch.
Nine years ago today, my co-founder Remi worked away in San Francisco, and our lead web developer Ed in Williamsburg, putting the final touches on the live product. The team headed out to the Stanton Social in the Lower East Side to celebrate in the warm summer night. It was a good era all around: SoundCloud had just launched, Tumblr was the hottest thing around, it looked like Obama might just head to the White House. And we were just getting started.
Love from StumbleUpon the next spring (The Ocarina of Rhyme and Songs that make you feel better in particular) set us on an upward trajectory. This growth fueled investor interest. We closed our first institutional funding (Index, A16Z, SoftTech and Pete Tong, among others) and hired our first full-time employees in August 2011 — exactly 3 years after launch. Post-funding, we returned to profitability in a year and our audience grew fifteen-fold over two.
But just as most of us experience in life, 8tracks has seen its share of downs as well as ups, particularly over the last several years: Spotify’s well-funded ascent, the loss of SoundCloud as a source for DJs, the required cutoff of international streaming, several rounds of layoffs, and the introduction of a US free listening limit.
However, these hard decisions have allowed us to conserve cash; coupled with the nearly $2m raised from the 8tracks community last year, we’ve been able to make steady progress toward sustainability. Over the next year, we’re looking forward to product innovation and smart integrations. On our short list: a full DJ library on mobile, integration with Spotify, the ability to play music from your Amazon Echo or Google Home, and eventually, for subscribers, offline listening with more track skips.
We’re also firing up a fresh crowdfunding round on WeFunder. In addition to supporting the independent music service you love, you’ll get a lifetime upgrade to 8tracks Plus with your investment. Sign up here to be notified when the round launches.
Despite our challenges, we’re pleased with our path these last 108 months, and we’re happy to be able to serve our community today. Equipped with stronger financials, fresh funding and a clear plan to deliver a better experience for listeners and DJs, we’re excited about 8tracks’ tenth year. Thanks for joining us for this trip around the sun!