David Porter, MBA 00

CEO, 8tracks
New York

David Porter, MBA 00, is making a career out of music. Not playing or singing it — sharing it.

Ever since he was a teenager, Porter, now CEO of 8tracks, has been interested in both music and business. When he was 15, a Rolling Stone article about an investment banker’s SoHo loft piqued his curiosity about a banking career. After majoring in accounting, he landed an auditing job with Arthur Andersen.

Then another magazine — Wired — caught Porter's eye, and he became increasingly fascinated by the Internet after reading Wired columnist Nicholas Negroponte’s 1995 book Being Digital.

The next year, Porter rode the Andersen job to London, then the center of electronic music. Porter saw that Negroponte was right: Music would soon be digitized, and thus more widely available. Watching a DJ get $50,000 in one night just to pick music, Porter saw the value of a great tastemaker.

Porter observed that while buying music from a store benefited labels and top-selling musicians, the abundance of music on the Internet plays to curators. His vision was to bring a new level of organization to online tune discovery.

So he came to Haas and landed an internship at Liquid Audio, the first company to deliver secure music online. Porter dug into the details of royalties and talked to venture capitalists about his own plan to organize social music sharing. “It’s novel,” they said, “but you need real-world experience.”

Porter took their advice and after graduation became a business development manager at Live365, the largest user-programmed Internet radio network, where he stayed for six years. In fall 2006, he founded 8tracks.

The name describes each mix its volunteer users create: at least 30 minutes of music, which usually means eight tracks. “8tracks provides a simple and legal way for people to create and share playlists,” Porter explains.

15,000 DJs have made 40,000 mixes across every genre imaginable. 8tracks soon plans to charge DJs a subscription fee to access analytics and earn revenue from the sale of tracks from their mixes.

“There are two ways people have discovered music traditionally,” Porter says. “Word of mouth and radio. What we do blends both, on a global scale.”

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