Guitarist for seminal post-hardcore outfit Chiodos, Pat McManaman, has recently confessed in a lengthy email to Alternative Press that in the early stages of the band they used underhanded techniques to get the attention of alternative music label Equal Vision Records…by hacking PureVolume.
In the email, McManaman puts the situation in context, explaining the online music scene of 2003 and PureVolume being a major influence in the digital realm, which would often translate to real world success. McManaman explains: “One that rose very quickly to the top was PureVolume.com. You had to re-upload your music there, or be a dinosaur. They had a Top 15 Artist Per Plays, Per Day chart on the front page. It would change throughout the day, but if you got on that, group-thinking on the internet would kick in and you would get even more hits/plays/exposure, from kids seeing you rank high and then listening to your audio player.”
It was known that record label execs would hunt for new talent in the PureVolume Top 15 given the organic support it would imply, that is, until Chodios got their hands on it. McMananman eventually used his advanced coding skills to benefit the band: “You could just reload your page, and start playing each song for additional plays. I just automated that “Reload, click, pause, click, etc.” with a script or macro or something simple like that.”
The website soon caught on to the gaps in their fences and tightened down on the ‘Reload’ cheat, and would only count 1 play for a track per IP address. This worked in the band’s favour as it deterred other bands who had cheated the system, but he saw a way around it. “Less competition from the cheaters that just did it manually. To get around this, I just modified the script to switch to a different open proxy before reloading. Different IPs, more plays.”
Doing this for around 4 months, the band stayed in the top 15, often at number 1 for the entire time. It was this action that led directly to their record deal with Equal Vision Records. McMananman is quick to shame the practice, saying he doesn’t encourage anything like this, and as Facebook and Twitter weren’t yet invented, and MySpace was just a few months old “it was a free-for-all, as far as internet band promotion went…”
McMananman ends the email by stating: “If I thought we sucked, I wouldn’t have wasted my time”. The band has gone on to tour the world, and release plenty of albums. Many believe, however, that they would have received the right attention for their good music anyway, but how does this sit with you? Did they take the place of an equally talented band who were more honest? Or is having a bit of mongrel in you just survival of the fittest?