Hype machine culls music blogs being scammed by labels

Hype Machine, one of the most influential music sites in the world, has banned blogs from its system over suspicions they’re being gamed by labels and PR companies. The site, which was formed in 2005, aggregates ‘buzz’ from music blogs regarding certain acts, using the weight of opinion to tip tomorrow’s stars. But according to founder Anthony Volodkin, its model is being abused, with labels and PR firms cheating the system to ensure their artists receive undue coverage.

A few years have passed since I’ve written about our approach to Hype Machine’s Popular charts. Since that post, we’ve prevented hundreds of artists and marketing teams from gaining an unfair advantage on our site. It’s disappointing, but it comes with the territory of maintaining a music chart that remains closely watched six years later. This has helped millions of people find some truly incredible music through each of the blogs in our index. More recently, we’ve become concerned over some new patterns on music blogs themselves. A handful of labels and PR outlets have focused their efforts on illicitly gaining coverage on Hype Machine-indexed blogs.

The most common approach is to become a contributor at an established blog and post their clients (or clients their friends are promoting). For maximum impact, the same person would then get a spot at multiple blogs to create the appearance of broader support for the release. In some cases, the people running these blogs were aware of this, in others these discoveries have come as a surprise.

We have stopped indexing blogs that support such behavior or do not select their writers carefully. There are a few reasons why it’s important for us that this does not continue on Hype Machine: You should be able to listen to a track knowing that it was posted because the writer thinks it’s good — not because they’re a client.

By creating a false sense of popularity for their artists, marketers can manipulate you into liking the music they are paid to promote. For example, if a track has been posted by many blogs, some of which are well-established, it is more likely to be heard and gain momentum through repetition. This encourages more blogs to post these artists, and the cycle repeats. While blogs are an integral part of music marketing in 2015, we want to support bloggers, labels, and PR agencies that operate with integrity.” – Anthony Volodkin Founder Hype Machine