Joyful Entrepreneurs: 8tracks

July 21, 2010 by

David Porter, who co-founded 8tracks in 2008 with Remi Gabillet

As part of our summer Road Trippin’ California campaign, yesterday we launched a really cool road trip themed playlist contest with internet radio startup 8tracks. We thought you’d be interested in hearing a little bit more about 8tracks as part of our “Joyful Entrepreneurs” blog post series celebrating entrepreneurs who are passionate about their innovative business models, like Mark Dwight of Rickshaw Bagworks and our own Chip Conley. David Porter, who co-founded 8tracks with Remi Gabillet in 2008, answers our questions about what makes his concept different below. If you’re a music lover, definitely check out the playlist contest or at the very least our road trippin’ themed playlists to add a little musical joie to your day.

What is 8tracks?
DP: 8tracks is a handcrafted internet radio network.  People who know and love music (“DJs”) curate an online “mixtape” containing 8 or more tracks, typically culled from their personal music collections.  Listeners tune into a sequence of these mixes, radio-style, beginning with a mix created by someone they know or follow, or as selected based on genre or mood.

How is 8tracks different from other internet radio concepts?
DP: Pandora (the market leader) analyzes music across 400 attributes to generate a playlist that’s sonically similar to a “seed” song or artist input by the listener.  Other internet radio services typically employ one or more employees to select programming, typically organized by genre.

8tracks, in contrast, offers a platform for anyone with the requisite knowledge and passion to craft and share playlists.  Everyone has a few friends who always know great new music, and 8tracks gives these people the tools to share their selections in a simple, legal way.

Why is it legal?
DP: 8tracks operates under the compulsory license for webcasting established by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.  This compulsory license requires that 8tracks follow a set of rules governing programming and listening, the spirit of which is to ensure that a listener’s experience is “like radio” and thus promotes the sale of music.

Each month, 8tracks pays royalties and reports the music played to SoundExchange, which uses the reports to pay the amounts owed to labels and artists.

How does the social networking function enhance the experience?
Music is inherently social, and surveys show that most people learn about new music through friends. In addition, people often associate music with various life experiences, in no small part because music – unlike most other forms of content – can be consumed while doing other things. Talking, commuting, reading, working, exercising, dining – you name it.

8tracks directly supports the social dimension of music by allowing one person to easily compile a playlist for a friend or broader audience and then share it via email, Facebook, Twitter, a blog or another social platform.  Listeners correspond with the DJ and one another on a dedicated mixpage that serves as a “musical diary” commemorating the shared experience.

What do you love about building 8tracks?
DP: I love the fact that nearly every aspect of 8tracks is a contribution by and collaboration among people who simply love music and, as a result, our platform for sharing and discovering it.

The DJs on 8tracks — roughly 2% of our customer base — are also our “vendors” in that they’re the ones who create the programming for the other 98% who come to tune in.  Moreover, the whole reason to make a mix is to share it, and each DJ who creates a mix then promotes it to friends and followers, which in turn provides exposure for 8tracks as a whole.

Our team is primarily a nights-and-weekends crew at this point.  We’ve no actual employees, and a number of people contribute their time gratis or for equity.  Further, as we offer an open API for playback, a handful of developers who love 8tracks have made (or are making) new applications for listening, including a Firefox add-on, Chrome extension and Android player.

We also do our best to respond quickly to people’s suggestions and questions through an online feedback application called UserVoice and by monitoring mentions of “8tracks” on Twitter.  This input is used to inform product development.

Why is this a great way to discover new music?
DP: It’s a great way to discover music because the platform combines, on a global scale, the 2 tried-and-true means for music discovery:  radio + word-of-mouth sharing among friends.  We can enhance these familiar concepts through the internet medium.

How widely is 8tracks being adopted?
DP: We attract 200,000-300,000 visitors per month (there’s some variability due on time of year and source of traffic).  To date, more than 30,000 DJs have created over 100,000 mixes.

What’s new or on the horizon at 8tracks?
DP: We’re about to introduce a new homepage, which will allow listeners to slice-and-dice our myriad mixes by those they “follow” on 8tracks (a la Twitter) and by any combination of tags applied by DJs to describe their mixes (typically genre or mood).

Also, since most mixes are a little over 1/2 hour, we currently select a “next mix” to play at the completion of the first based on a rudimentary match of artist. Going forward, when a DJ publishes a new mix we’re going to allow and encourage them to choose the mix that follows; in this way, a DJ serves as curator not only of the tracks in his or her mix, but also the mixes on the 8tracks network.

Finally, we’re about to submit our iPhone application to Apple, which will allow you to tune into great mixes when you’re away from home or work, on the go.

Favorite road trip music?
DP: Here’s my selections


Virgin Territory

July 13, 2010 by

This was an exciting day for us (and more importantly an exciting day for anyone who travels to the West Coast a fair amount) as we announced a really cool partnership with California-based airline Virgin America. Starting today, Virgin America’s 1.4 million members of its Elevate™ frequent flyer program can earn points at Joie de Vivre properties when they join our Joy of Life Club loyalty program.

To kick off the new partnership with a big dose of joie, Joie de Vivre is allowing members to “double dip” and earn both Elevate and Joy of Life Club member points now through the end of 2010 when they stay at a participating hotel. For every eligible $1 spent on the hotel room rate during their stay, Elevate members will earn one Elevate point as well as Joy of Life Club points.  In 2011, members will have to designate which program they want to accrue points.

That is the fabulous from-scratch triple layer cake of the matter, but there is icing, too, and it is good:

Virgin America and Joie de Vivre are also doing a social media promotion to award a lucky traveler a roundtrip flight for two to either San Francisco or Los Angeles from anywhere Virgin America flies and a two-night hotel stay at a Joie de Vivre hotel in California.  Interested? Check out the contest details here.

Vive Le Film!

July 8, 2010 by

On Bastille Day, July 14th our Hotel Rex will play host to the French-Language Disposable Film Festival. The Disposable Film Festival in a San Francisco based event that was created to highlight the potential and creativity that can come from the medium of disposable film such as cell phone cameras, point and shoot cameras, webcams and so on.  Short film submissions from around the world are selected, then screened and featured in these festivals.

For this particular soiree, the Disposable Film crew has put together their most intriguing French-Language short films for us to enjoy the Joie of Film at our very own Hotel Rex.  The screening begins at 8:00pm but we’ll be serving French-inspired drink specials in our Library Bar starting at 6:00pm. Attendance is free.

Celebrating Our Independence

June 30, 2010 by

As the three-day weekend celebrating the 4th of July approaches, visions of warm weather, pools, and mouth-watering food and drink are already starting to penetrate the minds of most.  For after all, this is a holiday unique to our United States and as California tends to stand out in the unique department, we wanted to make sure Joie de Vivre has you covered throughout the State.  Below are just a few offerings from our own restaurants that will help bring those dreamy visions of an ideal holiday weekend to fruition.

Venice Beach: High Rooftop Lounge in Venice Beach is hosting an All American High Independence Day BBQ.  It will be an all you can eat extravaganza during the day with roasted corn, potato salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, mac & cheese, house-made chips and dip, watermelon and a S’mores bar! From 11:00 am- 4:00 pm everyone is welcome; after 5:00 p.m. the party is for adults only.  A champagne toast will be included and local fireworks will be on display. 11:00-4:00 $25.00 kids/$50.00 adults 5:00-Close $100.00 adults only

Sacramento: Grange; our restaurant in Sacramento that’s all about seasonal and local offerings is offering an All American BBQ three-course menu for $35.00/person.  The menu will feature a Little Gem Lettuce Salad with Kick’n Ranch Dressing, Slow cooked Riverdog Farm Hog with Carolina BBQ, Corn on the Cob & Potato Salad and for dessert a Summer Berry Cobbler with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  That sounds like an All American meal not to be missed.

Brentwood: WEST Restaurant in our Hotel Angeleno is offering a red, white and tropical blue sangria priced at $4.00 in honor of the 4th of July. Relax poolside while their grill master cooks up some house-made sausage prepared to order. For a casual and elegant day in the Southern California sun; the best advice we can give is to head WEST.

Oakland: Miss Pearl’s Jam House in Oakland is having a party in conjunction with all the fun-filled events happening in Jack London Square for the 4th.  Come by to enjoy the beautiful weather, a petting zoo and live blues bands and stick around while Chef Peter Jackson BBQ’s up some Andouille Sausage in their outdoor waterfront patio.  Miss Pearl’s is also featuring their famous $5.00 hurricanes where $2.00 of every one sold goes towards the Coast Clean up effort.  To be able to assist our fellow state of Louisiana this 4th of July makes us feel very patriotic indeed.

Joyful Entrepreneurs: Rickshaw Bagworks

June 30, 2010 by

Mark Dwight and Lisa Taylor of Rickshaw Bagworks

As part of our summer Road Trippin’ California campaign, we’ve met the cool folks at Rickshaw Bagworks, who have made some fabulous custom road trip themed bags for us to share with our fans. Their approach to sustainability, which encompasses community and environmentally-conscious design, is holistic and quite inspiring. Their founder, Mark Dwight, graciously agreed to be interviewed as part of our “Joyful Entrepreneurs” series.

Why did you start Rickshaw?
I started Rickshaw to pursue my passion for designing bags, building brands, exploring sustainable business practices, running my own business, and engaging in the local community. I love making things — especially things that require a certain amount of hand-work. I call it “artisanal manufacturing”. My first business was making stained glass windows when I was in high school. After college, I spent 15 years in Silicon Valley working for technology companies. I took a break from high-tech in 2001, and had the good fortune to join a popular SF bag company called Timbuk2. That’s where my passion for bags blossomed. The bag business has brought me back to my true passion for working with my hands. In fact, making bags has some similarities to making stained glass windows — just with fabric and thread instead of glass and lead.

How is sustainable design interpreted at Rickshaw?
I’m a student of Bill McDonough’s “Cradle to Cradle” manifesto on sustainable design. I’m very interested in the difficult challenges of balancing design criteria (such as appearance, performance, and price) and sustainability, as they relate to our choices for materials and processes. Here at Rickshaw, we have a design methodology called “The Power of Zero” — whereby we try to eliminate waste in every aspect of our business, and explore opportunities for closed-loop recycling of environmentally-friendly materials. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Family Road Trippin’ Essentials

June 29, 2010 by

(Photo: Allison Czarnecki)

Today we’re excited to have guest blogger Allison Czarnecki, who writes the wonderful blog Petit Elefant, share her ideas for road trippin’ en famille. Welcome and thank you, Allison!

We travel a lot as a family. A lot. But in order to see the country with a family of four and a tight budget, we’ve found the best way to travel is by car. Road trip, baby. I love road tripping with my family, and over the years I’ve gotten better at what to pack, what to leave home, and what’s absolutely essential to bring in the car. Here’s my list of Top 10 Road Trip Essentials:

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: pack wet wipes. There are any number of wet wipe-able emergencies on a road trip, especially with kids, and one pack of big wet wipes is essential to keeping everyone happy, clean, and moving towards your destination.
  2. Assign everyone their own luggage. It might seem obvious, but there’s always the temptation to cram everyone’s gear in one big bag since you’re all on the road and in the car together. Don’t give in to temptation. Give each traveler their own bag, color-coded if need be, to keep their stuff separate from the rest.
  3. Pack a cooler with your favorite drinks. Yes, a cooler might slosh around when you take corners too fast, but it’s worth it. Completely worth it. Having cold drinks available at your disposal, for a fraction of the cost at a gas station will save your wallet.
  4. Assign a designated spot for trash. A bag, an actual garbage can, whatever it may be, keep your garbage separate from the rest and everyone will be happier. Empty it out at every rest stop to keep the car in tip top shape.
  5. Make a road trip playlist or two. Or three. The tunes will give you a soundtrack to your trip and will get you through the less stellar hours of your travel time.
  6. Take pictures! I know it sounds cliche but you’ll love seeing the photos after the fact. And later, when you look back at the photos you’ll have a visual reminder of the time your kids ran into the ocean fully clothed upon seeing it for the first time. Worth it.
  7. Pack light. I had a tendency when we first started traveling as a family to pack everything I could fit in the car. I literally would have taken the kitchen sink if I’d thought it would fit. It’s not worth it. You can do laundry on the road, and it’s pretty likely you’ll be traveling within the walls of civilization. If need be, you can buy what you’re missing once you get where you’re going. You’ll thank me later.
  8. Pack healthy snacks. I know, I know, it’s boring not to eat nasty food while you’re on the road but you’ll regret it later. There’s nothing like a frozen slushy drink and some chips to make you feel like summer, but you won’t feel so happy two hours after the fact. Take healthy things you won’t be able to find at a gas station. You can always buy chips on the road but bananas are $3 each at the Gas n’ Sip.
  9. Take games! U-NO is fun for everyone and can be played anywhere, even the car.
  10. Remember to have fun. Embrace the unexpected. Roll with it, and have the time of your life. There’s nothing quite like a road trip in the summer so enjoy it!

Tune In, Turn On, Geek Out

June 28, 2010 by

Check out The Citizen Hotel’s blog post all about Joie de Vivre’s new Joie Connect, a comprehensive in-room media portal powered by Mac Minis. Joie Connect enables hotel guests to leave their laptops at home, as the platform lets them browse the internet, e-mail, download music or movies from Netflix or iTunes, or catch up on Facebook and Twitter. The Citizen, located in Sacramento, is the very first of our hotels to install Joie Connect, with plans to roll out the technology at other Joie de Vivre properties. As the Citizen blog post notes, two Joie de Vivre hotels, The Citizen and Avatar Hotel (Santa Clara), were recently named to a list of 2010 “Best Geek Hotels in the World” by Hotel Chatter.  Read all the details about Joie Connect here.

Going Back to (So)Cali

June 23, 2010 by

Today’s guest post is from Leah Corradino of Joie de Vivre’s SoCal team. Leah shares her vast knowledge of what to do, see, eat and drink in Southern California – including a few bon mots from our hotels in the region: Shorebreak Hotel (Huntington Beach), Hotel Angeleno (Los Angeles), Hotel Maya (Long Beach), and Hotel Erwin (Venice Beach). Stay tuned also for our new Pacific Edge Hotel, which debuts in Laguna Beach this month. Thanks, Leah, we can’t wait to get back to SoCali and try some of these!

1. Intellegentsia for the BEST coffee experience on Abbot Kinney in Venice

2. The Hollywood Bowl for the best “under the stars” summer performances

3. Temescal Canyon Trail for a hike and to see the waterfall and ocean views from the Pacific Palisades

4. Opening Ceremony just opened on La Cienega!  Serious competition for Fred Segal!

5. Paradise Cove in Malibu for a scenic Sunday drive up the coast and for their gigantic iced seafood tower

6. The Other Room for great people-watching and drinks on Abbot Kinney in Venice

7. The Wiltern, Troubador, and the Fonda for intimate live music concerts Read the rest of this entry »

Chip Conley’s TED Talk

June 21, 2010 by

In February, our CEO and founder Chip Conley spoke at the annual TED conference,  held this year in Long Beach. The  video of his speech, in which he talks with characteristic passion about measuring what makes life worthwhile, has finally been posted online, and we’re excited to share it!

Top 10 Things to Do in Sacramento

June 17, 2010 by

I’m a Bay Area girl, born and raised. One can only imagine my friends’ reactions four years ago when they heard I was moving to Sacramento to attend UC Davis. Shock and disgust were among many facial expressions, to give you an idea.

You see, my friends were moving to “cool” places for college, like L.A. and San Diego.  Sacramento on the other hand, known for being a “cow-town” and “hot as hell”, was always stereotyped as less than desirable.

Well, turns out the joke’s on them.  Sacramento is awesome, and I’m not afraid to say it out loud. Four years into living here, I have dined downtown, wined Midtown, ran a 10k around the zoo, attended film festivals at the Crest, and rafted down the river on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Without further adieu, here’s my personal list of the top ten things to do in Sacramento (and I hope if you visit, you will check out – or, even better, check in – Joie de Vivre’s gorgeous Citizen Hotel):

1. Catch a film at the Crest Theater. I think it might be accurate to say I have never seen a bad film here. If you’re into the Avatars and Iron Mans, this isn’t the place for you. If you’re into the interesting, hilarious, and educational indie films that nobody has heard of, this is your go-to theater. I am a bit of a movie snob and this is hands down, the best place to catch a good film in Sacramento.

2. Float down the river. I’ll be honest—it gets pretty dang hot in Sacramento, especially in the summer months. What better way to spend your scorching Sunday afternoon than lazily rafting down the American River? Tip: rent multiple rafts and tie them together with rope to float as a group. Add a cooler of classy beverages, a boom box, and you’re good to go. Read the rest of this entry »