Thanks to our community’s response to a survey last summer, and recent testing on the iOS app and website, we’re introducing a new type of ad format – audio ads – which makes it possible for US listeners to tune into a lot more free music each week!!
As we described during the rollout of listening limits in December 2016, streaming music is expensive. Selling ads through an in-house sales team wasn’t economical at our scale (then and now), and visual ads sold “programmatically” don’t consistently cover our royalties, a situation exacerbated by the prevalence of ad blockers. In short, we were losing money for every hour streamed by an ad-based listener.
To keep 8tracks running, we shifted away from a direct ad sales force to reduce fixed monthly costs; introduced a weekly limit on free, ad-based listening; and promoted unlimited, ad-free, subscription-based listening via 8tracks Plus. We also required listeners who use ad-blocking software in their web browser to whitelist us. These steps have helped tremendously: we’re still in business and closer to sustainability each month. We expect to reach monthly profitability in early 2018, which will allow us to return our focus to new features, integrations, and improvements important to our community.
Yet a listening limit is far from perfect for everyone: it’s a poor experience for our listeners, and it artificially reduces the size of 8tracks’ audience. Based on recent testing and community feedback, we believe audio ads strike the right balance between revenue generation and the user experience. While we recognize that audio ads interrupt a listener’s flow, they increase our revenue per hour by enough to allow us to stream to free listeners without an overly restrictive listening limit.
You may have already noticed a significant boost to your free weekly listening as these new ads are introduced. If you’d like to share your thoughts on this change (good or bad), just let us know here – we’d love to hear from you!
Of course, we want to make sure that you have the freedom of choice, so the “best of both worlds” scenario remains: you can always sign up for 8tracks Plus (for as little as $30 per year) and enjoy an uninterrupted, unlimited, ad-free streaming experience – all the while helping us cover the costs of royalties that support the hardworking artists you discover on 8tracks.
If you’d like to become an ultimate supporter, you can add your email here to be notified when our upcoming investment round launches soon on WeFunder. Among other perks, you’ll be able to receive a lifetime upgrade to 8tracks Plus and join nearly 4,000 other illustrious 8tracks investors. Stay tuned!
CEO & founder, 8tracks