I’ve no doubt I’ve been slow over this, but I recently discovered 8tracks.com, which has quickly become my favourite online music-sharing service. It takes the concept of the mixtape and does a good job of translating it into a web form.

There are several key features about it I like, particularly when compared to its obvious (to me, anyway) rival, Spotify. Firstly, you upload the MP3s you want to put on the tape, so you’re not reliant on a service having an extensive library of music (the converse is also true, of course: you can’t add something to a mix unless you own it, unlike with Spotify). Anyone can listen to the mixes without special software or even subscribing. You have to listen to the mixes in sequence – you can skip tracks, but you can’t see what’s coming up until you get to it, or pick and choose what to listen to.

I’ve already found lots more artists to follow up than I ever have via Last.Fm, say – mixes crafted by people are more likely to throw up interesting gems you’d otherwise miss than any set of algorithms, it seems.

It’s not a straight music player, of course: you can’t use it to listen to specific tracks you select as you used to be able to do with Spotify, and still can if you subscribe – though I’m disinclined to pay for the privilege of listening to music that I mostly own. With its reduced free service, Spotify has shrunk back to ‘try before you buy’ duties only for me. But for sharing music online (completely licensed and legit, of course), 8tracks is my choice.

I’m brewing up some more mixes (Country and Americana, Heroes of Indie, Canada, and the Inevitable Grrl Pop Mix are headings I’ve jotted down so far), but here’s one of only two I’ve managed so far: highlights from the albums I’ve really enjoyed so far this year.

Unfortunately, I’ve just found a snag with it: the ’embed’ code doesn’t work with WordPress – there should be a nice snazzy embedded player below, but it’s just showing a URL (let me know if you can see the full thing). Still, click on it and you should get to the mix.



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