The Greenpoint-based Hype Machine is a website that conglomerates music blogs and forms music charts out of what the blogs are covering. The more blogs are writing about a particular song, the higher it is on the Hype Machine’s Popular chart. As music blogs tend to be on the early adopter side of the industry, the songs you hear on the Hype Machine’s popular playlist are unlikely to be those you hear on the radio, or Spotify for that matter.
The site grew to become a place where tastemakers would go to hear new music, and, thus, a critical part of the music industry. In 2008, Billboard described the Hype Machine as “One of today’s most groundbreaking online music services … emerging as a juggernaut of growing influence.”
But the world moves on. Where Hype Machine was well-positioned in the new universe of music blogs, the industry has continued changing. People still write and follow music blogs, to be sure, but not as they once did, when Vampire Weekend went from unknown to indie kings off the strength of blog buzz.
“It definitely changed the type of blogs that are out there, it’s way more professional [now],” said Volodkin. “And that’s another thing I’m thinking about, too. If we don’t have blogs in the same way we did what are some other ways we can accommodate?”
It may surprise you how popular the aged (in internet years) Hype Machine is among young starting-out independent artists. Getting massive blog notice and thus moving up the Hype Machine chart is a strategic priority among the SoundCloud set, even more so than Spotify plays and Pitchfork reviews. As the article alludes, it’s one of the last outlets for breaking emerging / unsigned artists. However, the purity of the process has been tainted by pay-for-play blogs and repost channels, and many young artists have no problem ponying up for a blog placement.
Facebook’s inevitable foray into music streaming could harness some of Hype Machine’s approach by utilizing social media shares, posts, and mentions to build its own automated music charts (much like Hype Machine presently does with its Twitter chart). Integrating a streaming service with an already vibrant social media community has innovative potential and, somehow, is uncharted territory.