Indie-music snobs insist that they like bands no one else likes. But that’s hooey. They like bands other indie-music snobs like. A Finnish web service and app acknowledges that fact, and it does it a wonderful visual way: Hitlantis.com connects people to new music by promoting obscure artists, according to their popularity, on a live map of the indie-music universe.
The site uses a familiar trope in data visualization, the bubble chart. Each bubble represents a different band and is color-coded by genre (rock is pink, metal is purple, and so forth). Bubbles then orbit a giant ring like stars in a galaxy. From there, the position and size of a bubble is determined by the band’s popularity: The bigger the bubble, and the closer it hovers to the center of the ring, the more an artist’s music has been shared, liked, and bought.
At the micro level, you can click on a musician, and a whole secondary menu pops up, complete with a list of playable songs, fans, and other features. You can even click on fans’ profiles to peruse other music they recommend. And of course, you can buy music, too. Hitlantis operates on a “pay what you can” basis. Ninety-percent of the proceeds go to the artists.
There are plenty of services dedicated to helping people discover new music–and even a few that try to make it visually compelling. But Hitlantis is the first we’ve seen that promotes niche bands in a logical, eminently navigable way. It gives you an instant visual of how musicians rise in the real world (and how your own tastes develop, esoteric though they may be): according to buzz.