8tracks: The Moodiest Music Site on the Web

By Karolyn Castaldo on October 31, 2012

I always need to have some kind of background noise, whether I’m hanging out with friends, reading for class, or cooking dinner. There are times when I want something sad and slow, something to wake me up that’s chill, or something that I can take skiing that’s happy. Well, iTunes can’t read my mind, the radio is always blaring static or commercials and Pandora never seems to get it right. So, what do I do when all I have is a mood to go off of for my musical preferences?

Photo from theletter.co.uk

Welcome to 8tracks. The self-proclaimed “[h]andcrafted internet radio” site, named the Best Website of 2011 by Time Magazine, uses a tagging system for its user-created playlists. When you search for that “summer + hipster” mix, every playlist that has been tagged with those two words will come up. Each mix has at least 8 tracks to it, but can have many more than that, and will always have a wide variety of music on each. On 8tracks, users can listen to or create mixes. It is great for sharing mixes with your friends, but also with perfect strangers. If you’ve created a “study mix” that works well for you, post it to 8tracks and let it help someone else in their study-stress! Not in the mood? Search for an artist or genre and let 8tracks work its magic.

Though 8tracks doesn’t always offer the perfect selection of music, because, of course, we all have different tastes from one another, it’s fairly spot on most of the time. My only complaints would be that as a listener, you cannot skip more than 3 songs per mix in one hour before having to go to the next one and you cannot go back to a song after it’s played. Some of the mixtape art is a little risqué as well, so in a more professional setting, it’s hard to find mixes to listen to. Thankfully, there is a setting that you can put on called “Safe Browse” that will skip over tracks and playlists that are inappropriate. Other great features include the Youtube and iTunes buttons on the bottom of each mix. If you’ve found a new song that you really like, you can find where to buy it or listen to it again on using these links.

Want to take 8tracks on the go? There are free Android and iPhone apps available, which have both had recent updates with great reviews. For those of you who are looking for more out of this site (mostly just DJs) there is 8tracks plus. This upgraded version of the site includes an ad-free site and several DJ-focused features that are to be released soon. The cost is $25 for a 6-month subscription and 14-free trial. I wouldn’t say it’s worth it, because unlike Pandora, the ads are simply non-audio sidebars, so for a regular listener, the upgraded version does not offer much. Simply listen away with the free version!

What moods do you use 8tracks for?


I'm an East Coast girl experiencing life in the West. I love skiing, reading, and writing and I am always down for a big bowl of pasta.

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