Interview: MusicHype.com

Music Hy.pe is a new social media platform that rewards you for listening to music, spreading the word on what’s out there, and brings music and fans together.  The fledgling site has been collaborating with NZ rockers The Mint Chicks – hosting live webstreams of exclusive concerts, launching limited-edition EPs, and is currently running competitions to design their new t-shirt and music video.  I recently got to chat with Digital Strategist Annabel Youens to see what all the hype was about – check it out!

musichype

Why should our readers sign up with mHype?

I think that if you’re into music and like to spend time on sites like LastFM and YouTube (checking out music videos) you’ll like what we’re trying to do. It’s early days but I think people get a sense of the kind of relationship we’re trying to create between bands and fans. We want to run heaps of competitions and always have something cool happening on the site, and we really can’t do this without more lovely members and their input.

Are you happy with the reception mHype is getting so far?  I can see it getting really big pretty fast…

We’re so pleased that we’ve been welcomed into the online music community. It’s been really lovely because not only has it been virtually with great tweets and emails but also locally. Around New Zealand we’re getting to talk to labels, bands and other folks who really get what we’re trying to do. It’s a such a reward for the hard work we’ve all put in – such a small team of 10 it’s amazing to think we’ve come this far in only a month and a half 🙂

Were you pretty well prepared to go live, or were there some unexpected bumps along the way?

Always a few bumps with a go live 😉 We used lots of coffee, beer and lovely home-made meals to smooth out the rocky road.

It sounds as if you’ve landed a dream job!  Can you tell me a bit about how mHype started out?

I have to say I do love my job – getting to meet amazing musicians and help them reach new fans is such fun – beats my first job pumping gas! MusicHype only really started seriously in September last year. Jeff Mitchell (our MD and Solutions Architect) and I were approached by a local angel investment house called WebFund. The guys there had an idea that they wanted to do a music promotions site that would help bands connect and collaborate with their fans. And just like that we were off and planning MusicHype. Sometimes everything really does seem to come together at the right time.

Tell me a little bit about the team.  You seem a really diverse bunch; how was it working on such a large project?

We have such an amazing team here who really care about the site and our members, so the late hours, the huddles, the strategizing, and the countless revisions seem so much easier when you work with people who love what they do. The core development and design team have worked together for the past three years so we’ve got a pretty good rythmn and know how to work with each other. It’s a huge asset to have a tight team already in place for a start-up. A huge shoutout to Thomas, Mike, Hannah, Dave, Steve, Nick  Stefan. Jeff and I couldn’t do it without you!

You seem to be involved in all levels of music consumption – from tracking what fans are listening to, to throwing launch parties and offering discounts on music books and other products.  What do you consider to be your priority?

Our priority will always be working with bands to help them collaborate with bands. For us that’s the core of our site. On the other side we also think it’s important that music fans are recognised for everything they do on the web to support the bands they love. I guess it’s really these two tracks that we try to balance everyday.

What is your favourite feature so far?

I’m just a huge fan of the competitions – it’s a big feature but I just love it, especially how it’s going to change and grow as different bands come on board and want to try new things. I just wish I could enter 🙁

Will you consider adding a feature that tracks when readers actively review a gig or cd?  That would be neat to track and build a database of…

Absolutely – that is a great idea. If anything we have too many ideas! We’re trying to be very conscious about which one’s we implement, and like you alluded to earlier, stay focussed. It’s such a danger in any startup to get swept away by the latest and greatest. I always reference Star Wars when the rebel alliance are flying down the death star alley, “Stay on target…stay on target…

Given the success of the Bad Buzz EP, do you have any plans to release other eps/albums under the mHype umbrella?

I think we’ll be doing all kinds of things with our future bands and other releases are definitely in the plans. But ultimately it’s going to be up to the artists we work with. We’ve created a platform that can help bands do almost anything digitally, with a team of people who have worked in the web space for over 15 years. It’s early days and I can imagine that within a year we’ll be doing things on MusicHype I would never have guessed.

mHype seems a really innovative way to directly connect musicians with their fans, and a particularly organic move given we are seeing a lot of bands communicate via social networking.  Do you have any other artists lined up to jump on the mHype bandwagon?

Great question! We are talking to a number of artists and bands here in NZ and overseas. That’s probably one of my favourite parts of the job getting emails from bands, managers and independent labels who say, “we love what you do – how can we work with you.” News coming very soon on our next bands and next competitions.

When can we expect to see some more goodies in the shop?

Soon! Our shop is going to be filled with lots of hand picked goodies – towards the end of March we should be launching the full store. I’d like to think we’ll end up being the thinkgeek of music stuff (http://www.thinkgeek.com/). And I’m always looking for products so if any of your readers know a “must music have” please email me: shop@musichype.com.

What would you like to have accomplished with mHype within a year?

I would like to have a bigger and even stronger community of members who keep giving us ideas and help us reward them 🙂 I’d like to have several major bands on board running con-current competitions. I’d like to have live-streaming concerts happening around the world, plus an office in North America – and so far it’s looking good.

What albums are you really excited to be listening to at the moment?
Yesterday we just pre-ordered the new Broken Social Scene – can’t wait! And of course the Mint Chicks EP is on high rotation – damn it’s a good EP.

Anything else for our Seattle readers?

I’m originally from Victoria on Vancouver Island so Seattle is very close to my heart – being a west coast town and all. Plus the grunge years were my formative years in high-school…ah Soundgarden – so hello lovely Seattle!

by Nicky Andrews

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