8tracks ❤s OpenAura


Music listeners today have unprecedented access to a deep catalog of music across myriad genres from ‘round the world, thanks to inexpensive tools for production and free distribution on the internet. But with unlimited offerings on tap, it’s not always easy to find new music you love, much less learn about the creators behind that music along the way.

When you choose an 8tracks playlist based on a theme or genre, you’re served a wide variety of tracks by different artists, and you likely discover more music than you do on other music services. However, to support this discovery experience, we’d like to help you learn more about the artists themselves, rather than letting the songs become merely a cog in a themed radio station.

Accordingly, we announced this week that we’re tapping OpenAura’s Artist Info API to deliver deep, accurate and current information about artists big and small, offered up through our pervasive player.  Using OpenAura’s API, we tap into a central source of information on artists, one which allows artists to control their online identity and earn revenue from that content. Artist bios and images are updated and refined over time, and independent artists have an equal opportunity for representation.

We view 8tracks as essentially a “matchmaking” platform for listeners and artists, as mediated by our DJ community, and so we’re particularly excited to leverage OpenAura to help further the bonds between music creator and music consumer.

Building a single-page app, one page at time

Just as the idea of a playlist extends a musical moment beyond the end of a song, a web application enables a rich browsing experience that isn’t bordered by page refreshes every time you interact with the screen. This idea is particularly important for music websites where audio continuity is the paramount consideration. In a choice between interrupting your music or seeing what’s on another page, you’ll almost invariably choose to keep listening. In the past we’ve protected users from unwanted pauses by buffering clicks to new pages with this helpful popup:

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Nonetheless, the value of a music discovery service is limited by being unable to explore the site while you’re listening. From the very first version of 8tracks, we’ve wanted to enable continuous playback while keeping the entire site accessible. But it’s only recently that more robust web technology has become widespread and we were able to implement our “pervasive player” in a way that wasn’t hacked together or only available on one platform. In particular with the launch of the Next Soundcloud, we saw much that we could learn from and also some ideas to improve upon in our own transition.

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