A few recent conversations prompted me to collect the things we consider when we decide to include a blog on the Hype Machine, and share them with you.
We take the process seriously, since it’s actually several opportunities at once. For us, it’s a chance to support writers we respect (by featuring them on our pages), and encourage others to write while supporting a model we think works. It’s also a chance to add another voice our users can trust to discover something new.
When looking at a new blog, we ask questions to see if it fits with the ideas behind the Hype Machine. We want to know why the writer or group does it. We want to know how long they’ve been at it, how they prefer to share their thoughts. We want to get an idea of what music they end up being attracted to the most.
We look for genuine voices; people excited about music, thinking, drawing, experimenting, creating. We want people who would blog whether or not they were listed on the Hype Machine. It’s easy to tell when something is forced to be a “music blog” — the words stumble out uneasily, and something just doesn’t click. To quote Bukowski, “if it doesn’t come bursting out of you/in spite of everything/don’t do it.”
We also make sure they don’t post full albums or do anything else that takes away from the artists they discuss (this should be obvious, but have to mention it anyway).
Most importantly, though, we want to know if the blog would add something new to the conversations already tracked on the Hype Machine. If that’s not the case, adding it is a disservice to everyone: the authors of the blog (as they’d drown in the noise of consensus of other blogs), the bloggers already on the site and the artists whose music they discuss (the noise makes it harder for them to be heard), and our users (why have more of the same?).
We usually will not add these types of blogs to the site:
* Official label blogs (though we love it when bloggers link to official blog posts with new releases)
* DJ blogs that feature their own mixes (they are all awesome, right?)
* Blogs that are run by promoters of parties, DJs or artists
* Web music startup company blogs
* Party photo blogs
One of the toughest things in this whole process is to get across that there isn’t really a right way to write a music blog, and our selection process doesn’t validate something as “Right”. There are plenty of things people publish that are awesome, yet don’t fit into the music ecosystem where we play. But we do think that our selection process makes for a kickass experience for everyone involved.