Cat Herding Fizzled, So Hype Machine Launched Anyway

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Tue, Oct 16 - 1:08 am EDT | 7 years ago by
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A site that lets people share and vote for their favorite bands tried to make something viral happen.

The Hype Machine promised to unleash its new version when 10,000 people visited the site simultaneously.

Thankfully, the Hype Machine folks recognized they weren’t going to hit their goal without a massive effort, so they just launched anyway.

Sanity prevails, and now people can see what the lack of fuss was all about.

Hype Machine isThe Hype Machine Logo a site that pulls together the best of music blogs, and lets people select their their favorite music and blogs.

With the right combination of hip people, good streaming music and posts by smart writers, this is a great place to find out what’s hot, talk about which bands you like the best, who sucks, and why some writers get it and others don’t. And of course, listen to great music (with links to online stores where you can buy what you like).

Anatomy of an Attempt to Go Viral

Getting 10,000 people to do anything together at the same time is a massively tiresome job of cat herding.

Remember, music fans skew young and rebellious.

Tell them you’re not going to give them what they want until they all simultaneously jump through a hoop. Then watch them do what young and rebellious people do best – they rebel against whatever instructions you give them.

The plan was to get some attention by holding off on their launch until their devoted beta users beat the bushes and convinced 10,000 people to simultaneously visit The HypeMachine site.

But 10,000 people simultaneously doing anything is a lot to ask, in this world where we measure our freedom by not having to tune into a TV show or radio program on the network’s timetable.

Part of the problem is the static nature of the page they directed people to. No attempt to capture references to the viral campaign in the media, blogs and elsewhere. No links to the Digg submission, or what some bloggers and journalists were saying about them.

It was about as exciting as watching paint dry via webcam.

The other problem was that the goal was completely arbitrary, and served no particular purpose, beyond getting some buzz going. Thank you, Taylor, Zoya, Scott and Anthony, for not holding out, waiting to hit your target. Let the fun begin!

Update:  The backlash was beginning.

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  • Bruce Houghton

    Thanks for the insight on Hype Machine. We right about music, tech, hype an PR every day on Hypebot from and industry perspective and at from a consumer’s perspective and we miss this one.

  • Eric Eggertson

    There’s always something going on somewhere that you’re going to miss, unless you’re a Google/blog reader robot.

    Thanks for dropping by, Bruce!

  • Jennifer

    It looks like they only post stuff from bloggers that use MP3 though (unless I’m missing something) so doesn’t that cut out a ton of bloggers? I guess I’m confused about what they’re doing exactly. Also, I don’t need more people telling me what’s hot. I like what I like. Maybe I’m missing their point. I guess I’ll go read all the links you posted now. Also, where can I get one of these Google/blog reader robots and will he go over my 500 whatever feeds for me each day :) That would be swell. I do get sick of scanning.

  • Anthony V

    Thanks for thinking+writing about this!

    We had a lot of fun putting this together and the resulting conversation is also cool.

    We were clear that this would create a love/hate reaction and that was the intent.

  • Scott Baradell

    interesting post, eric …. note to clients: viral’s always a crapshoot

  • Eric Eggertson


    When you’re playing in the viral pool, you never know when something will take off and when it will just languish.

    Like I said, I think you made the right call by assessing how things were going and changing plans on the fly. Thanks for dropping by to comment!

    Scott: when the crapshoot pays off, it can really pay off. Well worth giving the viral thing a try, if the client is okay with unknowns and running with whatever happens.

  • António

    Just a correction Eric: there was a link at the bottom of the page to the Digg page (and two other to and netvibes (?)), at least until there were almost 2000 visitors on the page. But I do agree with you, that wasn’t much going on and I was put off for being prevented from listening to the machine.

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  • Eric Eggertson


    Thanks for the note. There certainly wasn’t anything to see when I dropped by, but if you say there were some links, I’m relieved.

  • Deborah

    I went to Hype Machine today. I was surprised at the new layout but I was all like, “ok, as long as it works the same way the old site did.”

    But it doesn’t. And between the layout and loss of functionality, hype machine now sucks.

    That backlash is warranted.

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