Hype Around the Machine - Hype Week
ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS Courtney Garcia

Don’t believe the hype, they say; unless, of course, it’s produced by a machine.

A website, music discovery tool, and growing platform for independent artists, Hype Machine was created by Anthony Volodkin, a Russian immigrant who began the forum in 2005, at the age of 20, while studying computer science at Hunter College in New York.

Photo courtesy of Hype Machine.

The platform, self-described as “an amalgamation of Pandora and Pitchfork Media,” tracks the hottest songs being played and recommended across online influencer blogs on any given day. Music is selected by a young-looking team of bloggers running the site, which has grown significantly over the years due to the online shift in the music industry, and the strength of its own prerogatives.

Accordingly, Hype Machine continues to lead the wave of tech innovation in niche music discovery.

“Both our strategy and goals are currently focused on creating an amazing experience in our mobile apps,” Volodkin tells BTR. “We have a big update coming up for our iPhone app, and are working on an official one for Android too.”

Hype Machine primarily serves to aggregate a list buzz-worthy music scoured from the web, including remix editions, updated by the hour. There’s no rhyme or reason to the inventory, just literally what’s going around. As of Wednesday at 3:30pm, the top tracks included Cosmic Kids, “Never Going Back;” Yuna “Lullabies;” and Outkast, “Miss Jackson (Jean Tonique remix).”

You can stream each track, filter the list to exclude remixes, and share with your own followers. Furthermore, you can customize it based on your personal preferences, and search for your favorite artists to find out what’s new. There are widgets, merchandise, and various other tools also factored into the scheme.

The company’s current goal keeps in tune to its mission statement while subsequently tapping into the biggest developing area in new technology: the mobile market.

Adds Volodkin, “People listen to so much music on their phones that we must help them discover new things on the go. Otherwise they’ll just come back to the same stuff.”

As great as it is for music lovers, Hype Machine also proves advantageous for the music business. Tracks are available for purchase through the site with Volodkin receiving a percentage of each sale. Reports CNN in 2006, Hype Machine users bought some 4,400 items on iTunes, and Volodkin earned five percent of the profits, a fact he feels reinforces “the service as nonpiratical.” Purchase downloads are available through Amazon and eMusic as well.

Hype Machine has further created an all-out enterprise by producing a radio show, and premiering new album releases by independent artists, its latest debuts include Prince Rama and El Perro del Mar.

Volodkin told CNN, he aims to merge the varying services for music he sees cropping up online.

“I kinda felt I hadn’t heard anything new that I really enjoyed in a while,” he explains. “But then I discovered MP3 blogs like Stereogum and Music for Robots. I couldn’t believe there were people spending their time writing about music, putting up tracks so you could hear them. And I thought, there has to be a way to bring this all together.”

Similarly, he said in a later interview with Wired, “Hype Machine plays in an ecosystem of several new things that have developed, with regard to music and how people interact with it. People discover something when friends send a link to YouTube video, and they’re just like, ‘Wow, what is this song?’ And they get really excited about it. Hype Machine isn’t really that (per se), but it’s in that spectrum.”

It’s safe to say others have followed in Hype Machine’s footsteps, or have at least incorporated components to their own sites that bear stark resemblances. MTV’s Music Meter tracks Internet buzz, offering music streams and links to artist sites and bios, for example. Rexly, a social recommendation mobile app recently acquired by Live Nation, allows users to track music based on what friends are listening to on their playlists.

But the human quality of Hype Machine, devoid of algorithms, makes it particularly unique. As noted on the site, “We handpick a set of kickass music blogs and then present what they discuss for easy analysis, consumption and discovery. This way, your odds of stumbling into awesome music or awesome blogs are high.”

As for Volodkin’s own favorite self-discovery, he suggests a track titled “Fear of the Unknown and the Blazing Sun” by Colin Stetson, which he found on a blog called Stadiums and Shrines.

Says Volodkin, “Blew my mind!”

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