I recently discovered The Hype Machine when browsing Ryan’s Smashing Life. I didn’t exactly understand what it was at first, but it’s actually really cool.
So people have these music blogs all over the Internet. They review albums and usually post free promotional mp3s in their reviews. Record labels give out these promotional downloads to spread the word about a new album or band. The Hype Machine catalogs and organizes all these music reviews from the best music blogs for your viewing pleasure. They also have an awesome built-in music player (by imeem) that allows you to listen to the attached mp3s directly from The Hype Machine. Users can mark tracks as a “favorite”, and you can view the “favorite” count for all the tracks.
Now if that was all The Hype Machine offered, it would be interesting, but only moderately useful. Fortunately, there are a bunch of other incredibly cool sections of the website. The “Latest” section is the first section you’ll encounter. It contains the latest posts in the music blogosphere. The “Popular” section contains the most popular music on the site from the past 3 days, either by “favorites” or by play count. The “Radio” section contains a non-stop radio stream of the most popular and recent music. Put it on, and you’re sure to have some fresh tunes to listen to non-stop. You can even plug this into your favorite music player as an online radio station. The “Spy” section lets you spy on what the most users are currently listening to on The Hype Machine. There’s also a “Dashboard” section that lets you customize your experience with The Hype Machine.
Surfing through all that music might seem a bit overwhelming. Even though it’s fairly easy to navigate, finding good new music on there could be challenging, especially for a new user. Thus my favorite section of The Hype Machine is the “Zeitgeist.” At the end of every year, they catalog the most popular music from that year and give you the top 50 artists, albums, and songs. The really cool part, as I read about on ReadWriteWeb, is the Top 50 Albums section. For the 2008 Zeitgeist, The Hype Machine partnered with the folks at imeem and musebin (which creates one-line reviews of every album on The Hype Machine). They pulled some freely distributable, Creative Commons licensed photos of the bands from Flickr and made awesome spreads for each album. Plus with the help of imeem, the full albums are available to listen to for free. I was really intrigued by this. I had already bought the #1 album a few weeks ago, but I really enjoyed the #3 album by a group called Vampire Weekend. I liked it so much that I ended up buying it a few days later (using their referral link directly to Amazon MP3).
If you’re grooving on The Hype Machine, I figured out another cool feature for people using Firefox and other modern browsers. Mozilla’s Mycroft Project, which implements OpenSearch, will let you add an entry for The Hype Machine to your Firefox search bar. Furthermore, if you go to the “Manage Search Engines” section at the bottom of the search engine drop-down menu, you can highlight The Hype Machine entry and edit its keyword to something like hype. Now if you want to quickly search for some music by The Submarines, you can simply type hype the submarines in your Firefox address bar (awesome bar). That’s a pretty awesome and quick way to find new music!
If you’d like to know more about the blogs that are syndicated by The Hype Machine, you can check out their blog post at the Machine Shop blog on the matter. There are literally thousands of music blogs that are syndicated on The Hype Machine. I’ve also found that their musical taste also varies quite a bit, including some pretty interesting jazz and blues. No need to worry that it’s all weird indie rock, although there is quite a bit of that.
So, what are you waiting for?! Go find some new music on The Hype Machine!