Music startup 8tracks is releasing a new web version of its service in limited beta today. The completely redesigned homepage is all about personalized recommendations to find the perfect playlist in just one click. It couldn’t be easier, and it should reduce a lot of friction when using the site.
At its core, 8tracks is a laid-back radio service like Pandora or Songza, but with human-generated playlists. It’s a big repository of playlists organized by genre and mood with a strong community around it. As a newcomer, it can be a bit hard to understand how to find the best playlists. But hardcore 8tracks users simply love the site. The main challenge for this startup is to build a better experience for new users so that they become addicted to the service.
When you load the homepage, you get a grid of playlists recommended for you based on your previously liked songs and playlists, people you follow and previous searches. Above each playlist, there is the reason why 8tracks is recommending this playlist, “Because you liked…”
“What we found overtime is that people don’t like being recommended stuff without knowing the reason why,” VP of Product Jon Maples told me.
Now, 8tracks learns your tastes and builds a better experience over time. The more you spend time listening to playlists and liking stuff, the better the playlists will be on the homepage.
Before today, I mostly relied on the ‘Explore’ feature. Every playlist comes with multiple tags. These tags can be a mood (happy, love, etc.), an activity (workout, study, sleep), and of course a music genre. You can combine these tags together to find the perfect playlist. For example, you could do a search for “study + indie + summer.”
I’ve been playing around with the new beta for a couple of weeks, and 8tracks has become a one-click player for me. I load the homepage, play the most promising playlist and like stuff. Every time I go back to the homepage, I get new playlists. In some way, it is reminiscent of the “For You” tab in Apple Music, and the “Browse” page on Spotify.
But the comparison stops here as there are a lot more playlists on 8tracks than on these streaming services, and you can find a lot of niche genres on 8tracks. Apple Music and Spotify have dozens of official playlists, 8tracks has millions of playlists.
Other features of the website were updated to make the website a bit more modern. The player page looks better, search and explore have been combined so you don’t get confused about each of these features, DJ profiles pack more information, and you can now look at the tracks that they have favorited.
Overall, this new beta website still feels like 8tracks. Existing users won’t be lost. But now, it looks and works better, especially for new users. The beta website is available today for a limited number of users and will be slowly rolled out to the rest of the user base over the next month.