The Rolling Stone Of Our Time

Josh Stylman sent out a tweet yesterday that I agree with:

The Hype Machine is the Rolling Stone of our time – defining, interpreting and pushing culture.

I don’t want to belittle what Rolling Stone was in terms of defining and interpreting culture. It’s impact was much greater than music. In fact, I think it’s political work in the age of Hunter Thompson and Richard Nixon was among its finest moments. And I don’t mean to insult Rolling Stone by writing this in the past tense, but honestly it stopped meaning anything to me about 25 years ago.

But in this day and age, when you want to know what’s happening in the music scene, you log onto the Hype Machine and see what’s going down. It’s participatory culture at it’s finest. The Hype Machine is not programmed, it’s a smart aggregator, like Techmeme or Real Clear Politics. The Hype Machine goes out and crawls the music blogs and figures out what’s getting blogged the most and then pulls that together onto a single page so you can listen and link out and go check things out.

I’ve been obsessed with the Hype Machine for years and readers of this blog will certainly be well aware of my fondness for the service. I check it every day to see what’s happening. But it’s greatest strength is when I am tired of what I am listening to and want something new. Pat McCarthy said it yesterday on twitter:

Yes, Hype Machine is great.  Anytime I’m tired of whatever I’m listening to I go to the popular page
to find something new.

The cool thing is that’s how the Hype Machine was formed. Anthony was tired of what he was listening to and wanted to find something new. So he built a crawler of music blogs and the rest is history. Like many of the best web services, the Hype Machine is a low cost lean and mean operation. It’s built and maintained by just four people; Anthony, Taylor, Zoya, and Scott.

There are many web music services with more users than the Hype Machine.


But none of the other web music services (imeem, playlist, pandora,, jango,, lala, 8tracks, myspace music,, …..) do what Josh so nicely articulated. The Hype Machine defines music culture.

And I’m telling you all this as a prelude to the big point. Team Hype Machine has launched The Music Blog Zeitgeist 2008. Each day this week, they’ll release the names of ten artists and ten albums that collectively make up the top 50. And they are also showcasing the top 50 songs by month.

They’ve also teamed up with Blog Fresh Radio to produce a radio show featuring all of this music. I’m listening now and so can you.

The Hype Machine is small, influential, and profitable. It doesn’t take a lot of revenue to cover their costs and they are the model of a bootstrapped, scrappy, and useful web service. I love the Hype Machine and think they killed it with the music blog zeitgeist this year.

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