8 tracks and counting

If you’ve ever been in a musical rut it can be hard to get out of it. Often times when you pull your iPod you end up choosing the same old songs over and over again — I once listened to Simon and Garfunkel on the bus to university everyday for three weeks. It is the downside of being your own DJ and reminds you that sometimes radio can be a great thing.

After purchasing a new car my family was given a free trial subscription to Sirius satellite radio. At the beginning it was magical with so many choices and so many stations to discover. I took to a first/new wave station that favoured the likes of the Smiths, Depeche Mode and occasionally the Clash (but always the same song every time) and then once I got tired of listening to pretty much the same tunes over and over again I found a university radio station and an alt station that fortunately reside right next to one another on the dial. The upside of these is that they tend to filter through the most recent indie singles, hits and on the university radio station up and coming bands. They too suffer from the same problems that other radio does: the same songs get far too much air time, while others go totally ignored, and you can’t skip songs if you really hate something.

Then along came a different breed: Internet radio in the form of 8tracks. You get to pick a mix created by another user and listen to it. If you don’t like it you can find another. No more musical ruts. I’ve discovered enough new music to fill a hard drive. For those times when you don’t feel like driving you can stare out the passenger seat window and enjoy the view.

And there’s the element of participation: you can make your own mixes. Unlike the normal/satellite radio, which is distant and was likely created in the industrial area of your hometown or that of whichever American city your satellite radio favourite is based in, you can be the DJ if you want. You can share that playlist you adore and build followers — you can also follow those whose mixes you enjoy. It takes all of the upsides of social media and applies them to radio and music.

And isn’t that the magic of the Internet: you can discover anything you like you just have to type in the right keywords.