As someone who doesn't live in the United States I see all the time friends posting on Facebook that they are looking for a Pandora and Spotify alternatives, there are even times when people post ways around the restrictions. I have learned to cope with my Pandora withdrawal through testing a series of alternative online radio sites and apps.
For the past few months I have been an avid listener at 8tracks. This site is a brilliant idea, every playlist on this site must have at least 8 tracks and as part of their legal policies a user cannot upload multiple songs by the same artist thus making sure that all playlists that you listen to will be a variety. Every song has a link on it to a iTunes song, Soundcloud track or YouTube video so if you like what you are listening to you can get it to listen to whenever you want or add to your own playlists and bookmark them as favorites for later reference.
I also like that when you are listening to a playlist on the side of the screen there are suggestions for similar playlists. For example I have recently gotten into listening to mashups so now on the side of the screen and when I login the site has suggestions for mashups that other users on the site have been listening to.
A really great feature that a lot of sites have been utilizing with the new technologies of the internet, when you play a playlist a bar appears at the bottom of the screen. This bar provides a lot of very useful information especially if you are like me and are constantly jumping around the site looking for new content. Here you will find the name of the track, artist, a link to the track, playlist, volume and basic controls.
I like this layout better than Soundcloud’s mini player bar at the top of the screen that I always forget is going to automatically play the next track. It is large enough for you to notice right away but small enough to not hog the screen.
When you reach the end of a playlist a popup window appears with a suggested playlist that you might like and a timer. If you don’t respond within the allotted time then the playlist will begin to play on its own.
Cell phone Application
8tracks has an app for both Android and iPhone, I have used their app to listen on the go but have found that it causes battery drain and uses a lot of data on my cell phone plan.
I always find that I get stuck in a rut, I love a song or a single artist so I’ll play their music over and over until I’m just sick of the song. As a policy on 8tracks they shuffle a playlist when you play it more than once.
The 8Tracks Community
There is also a really great community of mixers and listeners on this site. During my exams first semester of this year when I first discovered this site I uploaded a playlist of studying music which to date has over 1,000 plays 56 likes and every once in awhile I get a little reminder about my playlist when someone new likes my playlist. Other users are also very eager to help when you want to find a song that their system hasn’t linked properly.
Things that are missing
I would like to see this site add a feature to allow users to build playlists of their favourite tracks. Right now I can listen and collect songs to just make a list on my personal profile page but I can’t play them as a playlist.
The ability to see the tracks in the playlist before hitting play would be a really great feature. Although I do understand not knowing what you are going to listen to makes discovering new playlists more exciting.
Despite these few missing features I have found this website and app to be very enjoyable. I highly recommend them.