In addition to being an apt metaphor for how tele-visual and print journalists and conglomerates promote various media offerings, The Hype Machine is also a web site that tracks music posted on blogs.
Over a million registered users strong, The Hype Machine aggregates content on blogs by allowing users to stream mp3s directly from their site. Each track contains a link back to the blog which originally posted it, as well as a feed for every track available on The Hype Machine. Visitors do not have to register to make use of the site, but creating an account makes keeping track of one's favorite artists and blogs more easily via a personalized url which your friends may follow. Every track and blog has a little heart icon which gets added to your personal page when you click on it. There are numbers next to each heart, indicating popularity.
The Hype Machine is an independent company founded in Brooklyn, way back in 2005. According to their website, their focus is on making the most culturally rich music discovery experience on the web and they do that very well. They select blogs which are made by individual music enthusiasts and exclude blogs from labels, DJs, party promoters and other commercial ventures. The blogs which are let in offer a unique perspective and post only a select few tracks from each artist—not whole albums. All the blogs provide links for purchasing (if the music is still available).
The Hype Machine may be experienced in multiple ways. The default is the latest additions to the site. The popular and Twitter feeds are self-explanatory. There is also the option to spy on what others are listening to and searching for in real time. A monthly radio show is produced also. The top 50 artists, albums and songs of the past year are listed in their Zeitgeist section. A full list of the music blogs tracked is also listed, sorted by a multiplicity of tags. Finally, they have a Dashboard option available to registered users which may be personalized as you use the site.
Despite my having never registered with the site, Update: since posting this node the site now requires users to register to hear more—even so, I still prefer it over using youtube or last.fm or pandora because I like being able to read what people have to say about the music they share. The Hype Machine is different in gestalt from other forms of crowdsourcing (eg Twitter) in that the site's administrator's cull the available blogs to find the better of the bunch. In this way it is more of a representational democracy than a pure democracy or anarchy or oligarchy.
The Hype Machine is a fun, easy and addictive way to find music you've never heard before. It may be used to find cover songs, remixes or learn about that band you've never heard of that's playing in your town.
Nicholas Gurewitch of the Perry Bible Fellowship did this nifty map of 2011's most blogged musical artists for The Hype Machine.
The Hype Machine has steadily grown and now has a monthly podcast show which features different tracks that music blogs are ga-ga over. The Hype Machine has also begun a temporary venue at South by Southwest, the annual week-long music festival which occurs at various locations within Austin, Texas.