Yet, as mentioned on Friday, I think the future of radio will rely on a curated solution, and I think the curators of choice will more likely than not be other human beings, rather than the algorithms and machines that run Pandora and Slacker. That brings us to 8TRACKS, my current music discovery application/website of choice. I really think they’re onto something. By making it incredibly easy to create a mix, name a mix, and upload it – and then to have users “follow”, a la Twitter, those mixologists they most admire – they’ve hit upon something so easy and simple that I can’t see it not blowing up this year. Once you’ve chosen 5-10 people whose mixes and tastes you “trust” (easy to find them, too, because you can search mixes by artist name or by genre tags), you’ve got enough listening to last you for a good month or two.
There are still many gaps in the 8TRACKS product, and the fact that it’s only on iPhone and the web will limit its appeal in the near term. Adding an Android app, which they say is on the way, and some good roadmap features will help. Premium or roadmap features I’d vote for are:- Unlimited skips through mixes – rather than just a handful before you’re locked from doing more
- More elegant ways to follow curators from the iPhone app, and learn more about them
- Less reliance on the web, more catering to mobile
And so on. It’s coming. And when it does, your car radio might as well be a Smithsonian showpiece from the analog age.