How Did Bloghouse Happen? A New Book Tracks The Genre’s Rise Off the Internet & Onto Sweaty Dancefloors

“Despite the cool-guy pointy shoes and leather jackets as far as the eye could see in the club’s playing the music, bloghouse music discovery and distribution was as nerdy as it gets.'

Bbnews, Dance

12/3/2021 11:00:00 PM

“Despite the cool-guy pointy shoes and leather jackets as far as the eye could see in the club’s playing the music, bloghouse music discovery and distribution was as nerdy as it gets.'

“Despite the cool-guy pointy shoes and leather jackets as far as the eye could see in the club’s playing the music, bloghouse music discovery and distribution was as nerdy as it gets.”…

’s Dave 1.“It was community driven, not a top-down, traditional approach the way most music was released prior, being pitched to radio and encouraging fans to buy in-store,” said Andrew Cotman, co-director of the Australian music blog Stoney Roads

. Independent websites, often hosted on Blogspot or similar do-it-yourself tools, took it upon themselves to update (quite literally) the world on the newest music, paired with a bit of commentary and a download link via hosting services zShare or MediaFire. The bloggers pushing the genre forward were motivated by this process—a never ending digital treasure hunt for new gems.

Lina AbascalDemian Becerra*The legality of sharing a free download link was murky. The bloggers weren’t totally sure if what they were doing was legal, but it never seemed to matter all that much anyway. Publicists representing the artists being blogged about were known to encourage the practice by sending free download links in their press releases to bloggers. The artists were mostly content to take the free press, if they even knew what was happening at all. headtopics.com

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“Nothing was accounted for, let alone monetized,” said Dave 1. “It was total internet anarchy. Isn’t that what the early champions on the internet wanted? Decentralized, anti-market counterculture.”Almost everyone from bloggers to artists to miscellaneous music industry vets dropped the phrase “wild west” to describe the lawless stretch where tech and culture collided before commerce could catch up. Just north of Los Angeles, the blog

Gotta Dance Dirtywas born out of the dorm rooms of UC Santa Barbara by a few fans and amateur DJs. Jonah Berry, one of the site’s co-founders, had no idea if what he and his friends were doing was totally in the clear. He figured that if the music was online, it was fair game and only took down a download link when explicitly asked by an artist or copyright holder: “I think most sites would ask for forgiveness, not permission,” he confessed.

Berry and his partners scoured the internet for their favorite tracks, hunting down all the remixes of the week’s biggest songs, which would often end up more popular with the bloghouse crowd than their originals ever would. (Think A-Trak’s remix of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll,” the Boys Noize remix of Feist’s “My Moon My Man,” or Classixx’s take on Phoenix’s “Lisztomania.”)

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As a publicist at Chicago based firm Biz3, Clayton Blaha represented clients like Diplo, Justice, and Fool’s Gold Records. “Bloghouse was the beginning of the big shift from push dynamics to pull dynamics,” he explained. “This started with MP3s. We went from a place where the market dictated what was available and what was listened to because of scarcity, to the proliferation of all this music everywhere which meant that you listened to what you wanted.” More music meant a demand for curation. Enter the blogs. headtopics.com

With the emphasis on curation in the newly-saturated online market, there was a special place where Berry found the music before publicists were flooding Gotta Dance Dirty’s email with the latest download. The true democracy of the sound’s wild wild west was 

Hype Machine. An aggregator with no human face or editorial input, Hype Machine Hypem) was founded in 2005 by Anthony Volodkin, a Brooklynite by way of Russia.“It was a chaotic time for music on the internet. I would spend hours listening and finding new blogs to listen from. Then I started thinking of how I could make something so I could listen to this more easily,” explained Volodkin. Marrying curation with convenience, the software engineer began building a tool to aggregate all of the scene’s music blogs’ daily postings to one website. “It felt like a radio station was being assembled in front of me,” he said of the earliest version of the site.

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With its green and white layout, Hype Machine simply listed songs in a numerical ranking by online popularity. Other blogs could decide what to post based on what the rest of the blogosphere was posting, and listeners could head there to streamline the process of trolling the blogs themselves. In its prime, 

Hype Machine remained a fair, non- gameable website where the good stuff rose to the top. There were no paid posts, no partnerships, no commentary. The technology did the work and the culture did the rest. At least for a while, it was a democracy. headtopics.com

In its earliest days, Hype Machine started with a list of about one hundred blogs selected by Volodkin, including his early personal favorites, Music for Robots and Flux Blog. Few other post-Napster tech entrepreneurs had joined Volodkin in creating music- focused products — likely out of fear, he theorized. Potential copyright risk was rampant in the mainstream, but under the surface, the free, low-quality MP3 downloads competing for the top spot on

Hype Machine continued to fly.The site’s minimal analytics — partially intentional on Volodokin’s part, partially due to a lack of resources — were hardly a grain of sand compared to statistics available now to artists via Spotify and other streaming services. The Knocks, a rebellious production and DJ duo out of New York, were a fan of the site’s simplistic offerings. “

Hypemwas exciting because we’d refresh it all the time and see direct reactions from people. The immediacy was still a bit new to us,” said Ben Ruttner, one half of the group.It was to everyone else, too. The idea of putting music up, typically before discussing it with a label (if you even had one), was new for everyone involved. Music was beginning to move at the speed of the internet and new songs could be uploaded, reviewed, distributed, redownloaded, DJed out, remixed, (and repeat) faster than ever before. (Cue Daft Punk’s “Technologic.”)

The entire process was perpetuated by a network of amateurs and fans around the world, for free. This process shortened the distance between the underground and celebrity culture for artists like The Knocks, Steve Aoki, and DJ AM who were responsible for bridging the indie scene with the mainstream celebrity world. You could reach Lindsay Lohan without ever selling out—or really selling anything at all. Within hours of uploading, Paris Hilton could be dancing to your free remix on top of a table.

Like the bloggers who flocked to his platform, Volodkin is still unsure about the legality of it all. On Hype Machine, you were able to listen to the song on the site. On a technical level, the music would play from the original place where the blogger uploaded the song. To download the song, you would click through to the blog post and download the MP3 file from the original post, not Hype Machine itself.

“Whether or not that was illegal is a long, complicated question,” Volodkin admitted. “Pretty quickly, people that were working in music marketing started participating in this process. They would send MP3s to the bloggers, who would post the files for people to download. It operated in this unclear area, but ultimately everyone was sort of happy with the outcome,” he said.

Bloggers embodied the same reckless “I dare you to sue me” abandon of the producers behind early mashup tapes. Sure, there were the rare deferential blogs that posted only the tracks that had been given to them via label reps or artists themselves; but for the most part, whatever you could get your hands on was fair game, entirely outside the scope of The Record Industry Association of America.

“I did not hesitate to share any MP3 I could upload ontozShare,” said blogger Daniel “Asian Dan” de Lara. de Lara started the site Asian Man Dan in 2007, while attending college in Boston and taking the Chinatown bus to party in New York City as often as he could. “

Hype Machine definitely turned the blog game into a ‘highly relevant’ arms race, but that made it even more fun. It was a lawless time,” he said. (There we go again with the lawlessness of the proverbial Wild West.) Despite his reverence for Ed Banger, nothing was off-limits: Dan claims to be the first to leak what became known as the “Justice Xmas Mix,” the duo’s notoriously rejected 2007 mix for the hallowed Fabriclive CD series that unraveled unexpectedly into cheesy French pop.

Everyone was winning, so no one cared; it was run for the people, by the people.

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