8t ’til Infinity
The problem with beautiful dreams is that eventually they get interrupted by your alarm clock. That’s what happened when I woke up this morning for my last day of work at 8tracks.
This dream lasted for four years. In it millions of people became friends through a shared love of organized sounds & I had the privilege being its designer for a brief moment in time. But it was born over a decade ago in a Lower East Side coffee shop, or more likely in one of the neighboring dive bars while listening to the new White Stripes album in the bathroom… if you catch my drift. It then migrated West to San Francisco as most dreams powered by tech feel compelled to do &, in what I can only assume is an absurdly accurate metaphor, moved into a small duplex previously used as a milk factory. The interior was left unchanged from those agrarian days, giving it that sought after rustic sensibility which I believe they call “pinstagramable”.
Inside the 8tracks Loft, as it became known, the decor was minimal including only a few adjustable desks, whiteboards, & a New Order poster. A downtempo techno playlist sounded from the chromecast centerpiece & there was a shower in the kitchen, left over from the milk factory but that explanation alleviated little confusion as to its odd placement. The tables were littered with coffee cups, beer bottles, & occasionally the room filled with marijuana aroma when the SEO advisor was in town. The garden was used for unforgettable luncheons, often filled with sandwiches from Ike’s. We once had the pleasure of meeting Ike himself, he wore a tuxedo with an undone bowtie while personally handing us our sandwiches. This caused a lot of speculation on his earlier engagements & somehow we concluded that he was probably moonlighting as an international drug kingpin. I assume that isn’t true, but one never knows…
A comparably enigmatic man is 8tracks’ founder, mainly referred to as DP. When you write his initials as “dP” you reveal the secret monogram baked into the company’s logo. But do not mistake this for an ego trip, after a few tokes & a few more steps down the rabbit hole you’ll realize it is supportive of his project’s thesis: behind every playlist is a person & behind that concept is just another person. We’re all DJs & listeners in his beautiful musical vision, which introduced me to tons of new tracks & friends: mission complete.
I also refer to DP as the best boss I’ve ever had because in the early days I was amazed at how he was nothing like a business man. Then the numbers got bad & I realized he actually might not be a business man at all… however hindsight is twenty-twenty & music streaming’s graveyard is crowded enough to prove this concept is no cake walk. Yet, somehow 8tracks still lives on in some mutant form... truly too rare to die. So to all of you who believe you could have done it better: go buy a time machine.
What can I say, DP makes a mean batch of Kool-Aid. We would get so drunk on the stuff that we would put on dinosaur costumes & hang on chandeliers… this is not a metaphor, it really happened & there are photos somewhere to prove it. Point being: I just wanted to take a second to state my love for 8tracks, the people who built it & the DJs who make it worth listening to. My ears have been opened to new sounds, my eyes to new possibilities, & my heart to new meaning. It’s a beautiful thing.
Last of all I need to thank Jimmy, who originally hired me & tirelessly put up with my trolling, until that one time he snapped because I said I’d never heard of Tevas… ironically that was the only time I wasn’t joking. Sorry about that Jimmy & thank you for changing my life. I don’t know what the future holds, but the time has come for me to depart from the best job I’ve ever had with hopes of finding a better one. While that seems impossible, I’ve always taken comfort in my delusions of grandeur. Ok, my alarm clock is ringing so it’s time to wake up…
8t ’til infinity.
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