I spend a lot of time on the Hype Machine website, listening to the latest or most popular tracks from some of the best music blogs around the web. Constantly having a webapp open in the background can get in the way, though, especially when I get click happy and close all my open tabs.
What I need is a desktop client, but there’s nothing official out yet. Fortunately, Hypegram is filling the void, allowing me to listen to new music I wouldn’t hear otherwise without fear of my clicking finger running amok. We’ll take a look at how Hypegram stands up to the official web app and see if it’s as cool as the real deal.
Kick up the Jams
The top tab in the sidebar will get you to the most popular tracks on Hype Machine. Click that tab, and Hypegram will give you a track listing, with the most popular at the top. Double-click a track and it will begin playing in the third pane, the music player.
Before you get much further, you should probably log in to Hype Machine by clicking the gear icon at the bottom of the window. If you don’t have a Hype Machine account you can create one or continue without logging in. If you choose to move on without an account, thought, you should know you’re going to be excluded from some of the best features, such as a personalized feed and the ability to return to your favorite songs.
The player controls are pretty obvious, with pause and forward and backward buttons at the bottom. Inside the music player, you can also favorite a track if you want to hear it later or view the blog post the track originated from. Click the newspaper icon to subscribe to the blog on Hype Machine and add it to your music feed. You can also buy the song in iTunes or tweet about it if you want your friends to know you’re listening to really cool, obscure music.
Back in the sidebar you can move on to the Latest tan, which are the tracks most recently posted to various music blogs. From there you have your Loved or favorited tracks and the Subscribed tab, a personalized feed of music from only the blogs you’ve decided to follow. You can also listen to the the music trending on Twitter, but there will be some overlap in that tab and the Popular and Latest tabs.
Pros and Cons
Hypegram doesn’t work exactly like the Hype Machine web app or the official mobile apps. For instance, the other apps let you sort out the remixes (or only listen to remixes) in the Popular and Latest tabs, but there’s no such option in Hypegram. If you’re not in the mood for remixes, too bad, because Hype Machines tends to pipe through a lot of remixes.
I’m really okay with that, though. If I absolutely must have a playlist full of remixes or decide I can’t take one more, I can move to the web app, but I like the simplicity of just turning on the music and then going back to whatever else I was doing. There is a lot happening on the Hype Machine website, so fewer choices and things to fiddle with was nice in Hypegram. This might be a bigger issue for someone else, so I definitely wanted to mention it, but it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of Hypegram.
What did bug me though was how hard it was to subscribe to a blog. I had to hit the subscribe icon in just the right place, and that just right place wasn’t the center of the icon like you might think. I had to open the Hype Machine website to make sure my subscriptions had gone through (mostly not), which sort of defeats the purpose of a desktop app.
This brings me back to Hypegram keeping it simple, I guess. Setting up your feed and getting everything just so needs to be done somewhere else. Hypegram is the app for when all that’s done and you just want to listen to music.
I can hear some people asking why they should even bother with Hypegram if it’s so hard to subscribe and you can’t even sort remixes. The Hype Machine web app music player is pretty great. That’s all true, and if you’re doing okay with a music player in a browser tab, you might not need a separate app. But I know I all too often close all my browser tabs, not realizing I’m shutting off my music when I do.
I tend to play music in iTunes for that reason, but Hypegram is solving my problem for me. Hype Machine is special because it’s music I’ve never heard, whereas my iTunes library is played out. With Hypegram I get the best of both worlds, new music discovery in a desktop app that won’t cut off my music when I close all my Chrome tabs.
Hypegram isn’t the same experience as the Hype Machine web app or official mobile apps, but it’s not an official client and wasn’t created by the same people, so it’s going to be different. Despite a few flaws, Hypegram is, however, a great desktop client for accessing the latest music on Hype Machine and all the music in your feed, without forcing you out of your workflow (and constantly reopening tabs).