Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Catch the Fever at the Hype Machine

Enjoy music? Enjoy the internet? The Hype Machine is a way to get the most out of both. John Redmond takes a look at the world's first online hype aggregator.
Taken from The Campus Word

For all of you who either love music or have neophilic-tendencies (or, ideally, both), I’d advise you to check out a website. The site goes by the gloriously conceived title: The Hype Machine . Fully reflecting what the name implies, this site scours the web, specifically music-related blogs, to deliver, and hype up, the newest and most popular bands out there.

Taken from the website’s mission statement, the Hype Machine operates on a simple principle, “to make music discovery fun and get artists paid.”

As the music blogosphere continues to increase in size at an incredible rate, finding good new music can become more of a laborious task than an enjoyable hobby. It’s fairly easy to end up frustrated after searching for hours through crap blogs, so, unless you have discovered a site that you have deemed reliable and suited to your tastes, the Hype Machine could very well be your one-stop musical utopia.

As it compiles music on a basis of both newness and popularity, its content is reliable, in that the music has evidently struck a cord somewhere in the collective, pop-culture consciousness, and always cutting-edge. Conveniently, the website also offers short lists of “Most blogged artists,” which ranks artists by number of blog posts, and “Most searched,” which, if you ain’t stupid or somethin’, should be self-explanatory. Once you find a song or group that incites passionate feelings of rock and roll (or I guess, hip-hop, electronica, and everything else too) grandeur, the site offers links to both the album page on Amazon.com and the appropriate page in the iTunes Music Store. To throw out a bold assertion (why not?), it seems like the future of music, and the underlying quest to fame and fortune, lies encrypted in this new, democratic form of publicity.

To illustrate this point, take for example, the group Arctic Monkeys . Although they are now firmly established as a respected act, their roots are in the dodgy web-culture of underground music. They began as any other band does, with small venue gigs, promo records, and word of mouth plugs. They differ, however, in that much of their following developed as fans ripped promos onto their computers and began publishing their music on blogs. While this obviously raises some legality issues, the band accepted the reality of the situation to an ultimately fortuitous result—Their following grew exponentially, and their first album became the fastest selling debut in UK chart history. They were, evidently, more than sufficiently hyped.

Putting two and two together and noticing that one, this website is growing fast, and two, that a lot of these bands are getting mainstream attention, this type of pattern to stardom is becoming increasingly prevalent. As I begin to hear quirky, but undeniably hip, indie groups like Vampire Weekend and Hot Chip blasting out of the sounds systems of more and more (and more) of my peers, one cannot help but wonder where these bands would be without the make-you-or-break-you world wide web. Not so surprisingly, they’d most likely still be wallowing in the adoration of a dedicated, but disappointingly small, fan base.

So hopefully I’ve turned you on to a cooler way to waste your time! I’d offer some space here to discussing some of the groups who are crushing it (e.g. Vampire Weekend and Hot Chip as mentioned above), but, hey, why take the enjoyment out of the personal quest towards musical satisfaction? Happy trails…

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