8tracks music site adds easy genre filtering, still fantastic as ever
Earlier this week, I wanted to see what it feels like to be an American online -- you know, to explore all of those websites only Americans get to play with, like Hulu, Pandora, and Slacker. So I signed up for a high-speed proxy service and started cruising around. What I discovered was actually quite a letdown. It turns out that both Pandora and Slacker have really, really irritating commercials every few tracks. I mean, I'm listening to this nice, calm piano melody, and then a rock-themed commercial comes on with an overly-enthusiastic guy trying to sell me something I don't need. Ugh.
That's when I found myself going back to good old 8tracks, which is available internationally. It's a fantastic website for user-generated mixes. That's right – you don't generate a "station." Users just hand-pick a bunch of songs (usually around 8-12) and create a mix. It's kind of like Muxtape before its legal woes.
What prompted me to write about 8tracks is that they've added a very neat feature. Each mix can be tagged by its creator (of course), but now you can click any number of tags on the main page, and it executes a very fast search for any mix containing all of those tags ("AND" logic, to the nerds in the audience).
Some pretty surprising mixes can be found, and you can follow users whose tastes you like. You also get a "mix feed" showing all of the mixes from the people you're following. One of my personal favorites is prolific mixer (and writer) Shaun Usher, who goes by the moniker deputydog. If you just want to get a quick taste of what 8tracks has to offer, here's Shaun's beautiful Yo, Piano mix, featuring nine tracks by contemporary composers (Clint Mansell, Yann Tiersen, and more).