HulkShare Develops a New Level of File Hosting with Hip-Hop Artists
S/O to Hulkshare btw…
On August 18, popular D.C. rapper Wale dropped a brand new freestylejust one day after he released his latest mixtape, The Eleven One Eleven Theory. Spitting over the instrumental for AZ’s 1995 hit, “Sugar Hill,” Wale took a moment to name-drop those who’ve supported him. Among call-outs to folks on Twitter, Wale made a quick mention of a file-hosting site calledHulkShare:
Shoutout HulkShare. You tell me you wasn’t a Wale fan, I’m not a HulkShare fan.
The line came as a response to an interview I conducted with HulkShare CEO Ted Brinkofski for the Washington City Paper that went online earlier that day. Wale used HulkShare to debut his new mixtape, and the incoming traffic to the download page overwhelmed the site’s servers and caused that specific page to crash. I reached out to Brinkofski to talk about the downloading issues mixtape and his interest in working with the hip-hop community, and the subject of his current favorite rappers came up: Brinkofski mentioned that he hadn’t listened to Wale as much as other rappers and one of his favorites happened to be Wiz Khalifa, which some folks–including Wale–took to mean Brinkofski “wasn’t a Wale fan.”
Once the “Sugar Hill” freestyle hit the net, Brinkofski received a rash of calls from friends about it. Rather than shrug it off, the 21-year-old used the opportunity to reach out to Wale’s team and work with them on developing some of HulkShare’s newest endeavors.
HulkShare isn’t your average file hosting website. Unlike MediaFire, zShare, SendSpace and a mess of other sites that offer anyone free space to upload and share files, HulkShare is a site specifically designed for musicians and industry professionals in mind–especially those involved in the hip-hop community. That goes beyond Brinkofski’s love for hip-hop, though that admiration for the genre certainly provides some fuel for his goals. In the two years since he founded the site, he’s been trying to come up with innovative new ways to monetize and unite the hip-hop community (or a portion thereof) online.
Brinkofski has some lofty long-term monetizing goals that he says could take years to develop, but for now HulkShare’s main avenue for artist revenue is through ads. The site offers sponsorship opportunities to musicians, where Brinkofski pays artists to place their brands on HulkShare’s front page: You can see DJ Smallz and two-time Grammy winning production duo Play-N-Skillz with short quotes about how HulkShare is helping them on the site’s main page.
While long-term monetizing strategies are still in the works–Brinkofski mentions developing a gaming platform like FarmVille as one possibility–HulkShare has already been taken in as a go-to site for many people involved in hip-hop. Not only have rappers like Wale and Lil Wayne used it to upload and debut their most recent mixtapes, but popular hip-hop blogs like Nah Right and 2dopeboyz often link to HulkShare files (Nah Right’s post on Wale’s “Sugar Hill” freestyle links to a HulkShare download page), and popular cross-genre music sites like the Fader and Stereogum have embedded songs hosted by HulkShare as well.
But Brinkofski isn’t resting on his laurels just yet. “It’s still a small imprint on what the impact can be on the hip-hop community,” he says. He’s a bit distracted when I first reach him on the phone, as he’s knee deep in coding and making changes to the site. But it doesn’t take him long to launch into the details about his plans for the site, rattling off information with the whiplash-inducing speed of a rapper like Freddie Gibbs. He likes to update HulkShare with that speed, too, like with the site’s embeddable music-player. “We put out an HTML5 one the other day, so you can view it on Apple mobile products,” Brinkofski says. “I’m making all these embed players and throwing them out there and seeing what people like… we have five more coming out next week.”
The real big innovation Brinkofski is working on could very well set Hulkshare apart from the rest of the file-hosting pack: Profile pages that artists could have total control over, something akin to a MySpace, Bandcamp, or Facebook page. “[In] hip-hop, everybody’s trying to be unique and do something different, I kind of want to build that into the site,” Brinkofski says. “You can totally express yourself as an artist.”
That’s the idea Brinkofski worked on with Wale and his team last week. Building customized download pages for each song and testing out a variety of options that would allow any artist to make their file-hosting page reflect their personality. It’s not a ground-breaking idea, but its execution might be. “Really, the only thing that’s different or innovative on my end would be the strategy and the target market,” Brinkofski says.
It’ll be at least a few months before these changes begin to roll out, but as long as HulkShare maintains its foothold in the hip-hop community it could very well help the site grow the way Brinkofski wants it to. ”The hip-hop community is large enough for me to go after so I can build a large business,” he says.