San Francisco, Music, Code, Talks and More – 7digital at Music Hack Day SF and SF Music + Tech SummitPosted in API, Events, Hack Day, Tech on February 22nd, 2013 by Caroline Leeming – Be the first to comment
We’re just back from Midem 2013, where the music industry’s finest kick the year off in style at various Cannes hotel bars and restaurants, with the occasional visit to the conference centre when it can’t be avoided.
Over the last few years we’ve seen more and more tech companies attending, and it’s encouraging seeing the focus on developers and tech grow even more in 2013.
API’s were everywhere this year! We met with Open EMI’s Neil Tinegate, and got some insight into how that programme is working for developers and the label, and we sat in on the Midemlab competition and watched a panel of judges pull apart Apps and ideas from start-ups. It was also rewarding to meet a whole host of developers who have started using the 7digital API and to see their apps in action.
At the other end of the spectrum, another app built on our API is the Samsung Music Hub and it was also great to hear TJ Kang (SVP Media Services, Samsung Electronics) discuss Music Hub, at length, in a panel session with Olivia Solon (Associate Editor of Wired) and Paul Mascarenas (CTO of US car giant Ford).
And to prove that we don’t only ‘talk the talk’ we got our hands dirty at the 3rd annual Midem Hack Day, which saw developers from all over the world get together for a weekend to turn ideas around music and technology into working prototypes. The outcome was impressive as usual, with applications ranging from music creation and audio manipulation, (e.g. Girl Talk in a Box, Music Collective or LeapMix), through artist support (e.g. SoundCard or Ephemeral Playback) to music consumption and just plain fun (e.g. VidSwappr or [EXPLICIT] Feedback)
Our own hack resulted in RadioMe, a radio app powered by the 7digital streaming API linked to last.fm and This Is My Jam that lets users run their own personalized radio station. Give it a try and let us know what you think! You can check out the full list of hacks created over the week-end here.
Our week culminated with the exciting BlackBerry 10 six city simultaneous launch which we attended in London and NYC. The BlackBerry 10 devices boast fast browsers, new features, smart cameras and, unlike previous BlackBerry models, enter the market primed with a large application library… and an amazing music service powered by none other than 7digital! We’ve been playing with the two new phone models and we love them already.
That’s our wrap for the week… now where are those Friday beers??
The Music Hack Day held in Boston’s MIT Strata Center was one of the biggest ever with close to 65 hacks and a packed room of people from all over the map. When polled, the crowd makeup was about 25% MIT students and the rest a combination of the usual suspects and others that were new to the scene. The MIT student presence seemed to shine as the hackers entered the room to set up with a higher than average number of hardware hacks and very few technical difficulties in the demos. A telling exchange overheard was when the AV guy on hand was told apologetically about some complicated demo connection needed and responded, “this is MIT man, I have set up for robot competitions and stuff, there is not a lot that can surprise me”.
The following week-end Music Hack Day moved across the pond over to UK, Hosted at Facebook’s London offices hackers from all over Europe have built over 40 music hacks.
The Echo Nest’s API was the star of both shows and used in an overwhelming series of genius mashup and remix projects including a number worthy of a whole hour presentation rather than the 5 minutes allowed for demos.
There were too many amazingly creative hacks done, however we were particularly impressed with the following:
Instant Karaoke – This was our favorite hack and they made a great use of 7digital’s search and streaming API functionality.
Description: We’re taking karaoke to the next level with a multi-player game that allows you to do karaoke for ~any~ song. One player presses a button when a word is said, the other one sings along.
Remix Of The Century – Winner of the 7digital prize in London
Description: We’ve taken every number 1 from the Billboard charts since 1890, and made an interactive remix. The end result is eleven minutes of (mostly) beat-matched automated remixing from 1890 to 2012.
Animal Critic – You can’t beat cute animals for viral scalability, winner of a Gracenote prize.
Description: Generated one-sentence reviews of tracks by the most elite reviewers of the animal kingdom. Using NLP techniques to parse reviews from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, and generate brand new sentences!
Tomahawk Facebook Connections – Good concept, clean demo.
Description: Tomahawk already lets you connect to peers over XMPP, ZeroConf, and Twitter. Now, you can easily connect to your Facebook friends to share and stream music, playlists, and more.
Music: The Gathering – Served a practical use and pulled off a difficult demo with few slip ups, winner of a Rdio prize.
Description: A service that manages a running playlist based on the physical proximity of users to a target wireless network. Once a recognized mobile phone joins the network, an Rdio playlist updates with music relevant to that device’s owner. This ensures that everyone’s music is represented equally at any social gathering.
Stash.fm – Very interesting concept, good implementation of ideas with lots of room to grow!
Description: The world’s first “Mobile Music Bookmarking App”
High Five Hero – Very cute demo and looked like a lot of fun.
Description: We used Makey Makey to turn our secret handshake into our own personal soundtrack.
Johnny Cash Has Been Everywhere (Man)! – This entertaining hack cheered up the demo sessions crowd in London
Description: Essentially a Google Maps music video, dropping pins on a map of America in sync with Johnny Cash bragging about all the places he’s been.
Uses the MusixMatch API to get timestamped lyrics , look for place names and reverse geocode using Google Maps API, then synchronises the map plots while playing the song using the Toma.HK player.
and finally our very own hack:
Bad Cover Version Quiz – we got more than 30 players from the audience play simultaneously our multi-player quiz game
Description: The greatest bands in the world… and their sound-alikes. Can you tell them apart?
Uses The Echo Nest API to find hotttessst tracks by familiar artists (that are likely to have plenty of cover versions) then searches the 7digital Catalogue API to find the tributes and randomly picks between a cover and an original version
A few weeks ago we attended Music Hack Day Sydney. We’ve been to music hack days in the past, but this one felt a bit special given that it was Australia’s first ever Music Hack Day. And, that we had (soft) launched our Australian store.
For the uninitiated, Music Hack Day is a series of events that bring together developers and hardware tinkerers to build and present, music-related “hacks” over a single weekend. There were a wide range of attendees from mobile developers and visual designers to analog synth tweakers and audio engineers, many who went on hacking through the night without any sleep.
It is about having the space, opportunity and talent combined to create something with music and tech, without any commercial agendas or constraints. In the short space of 24 hours participants have to team up, come up with an idea, and build a working prototype to show to the group.
The Filter Squad, makers of the Discovr apps, did a fantastic job of hosting the event at Red Bull’s Sydney headquarters. With over 50 eager hackers and sponsors, stocked with what seemed like an endless supply of Red Bull, beer and pizza, it was clear from the start that this was going to be good.
We were really impressed by the quality of hacks produced over the weekend. Here are a few highlights:
Let’s vinyl and CD shoppers scan album cover art for a quick way to listen to the album before buying it in-store.
A simple web app that let’s you listen to album versions of the songs played in a gig that you’re missing in real-time, as they are played live. It uses the 7digital API for streaming and we thought it was a neat idea.
What your parents were likely listening to when you were conceived.
Like Instapaper for Music. Ivy is web app that let’s you bookmark music from YouTube and blog posts to add to a playlist. Your friends are also able to listen and contribute to the same playlist.
TokStar is a virtual karaoke room built using the TokBox and 7digital APIs. Choose your song, enter your name, enable your camera and microphone, wait your turn, and you’re up and running on its virtual stage, singing your heart out for the voting pleasure of other visitors to the site.
Through inviting progressive, cross-industry professionals, academics, musicians and Berklee students, the Rethink Music Conference in Boston highlighted the friction and progress of our current industry climate into two days of high-level discussions. For tensions and concerns surrounding artist development and marketing, global licensing and the future of the music business there needs to be various forums like this and we were very happy to be a part of it. Keynote speaker and marketing guru Seth Godin started the conference with a compelling and inspiring look at the music business’ rise to ubiquity out of what was historically a culture of scarcity. He offered enlightening but easily graspable advice to the general crowd to start “marketing to the weird” and pushed for a focus on “finding your tribe” for an alternative look at success in the mass market. Although his speech was directed towards musicians it was clearly ‘rethinking’ the culture of the industry as a whole and provided a great start to the discussions. Other interesting conversations came from those looking forward to the Musical Ecosystem in 2015, GZA on Staying Relevant and the group Finding a Future in the Clouds.
Prior to the two days of panels, The Hackers’ Weekend invited the developer community to take center stage to present their own ‘rethinking’ of music applications. At the end of 24 hours of intense coding on various music companies’ APIs, these young talents come up with a number of great ideas mainly focused around playlists, lyrics and social engagement. The winning hacks were: Kinect Bomba – where dancing in front of a Kinect controls the music, The Byrds and The Bee Gees – allowing a playful application that highlights songs popular at the time of conception and Concert Playlist Generator – helping live music fans easily listen to tracks on Spotify from upcoming gigs tracked through Songkick – perfect for pre-concert listening. 7digital was partial to the application Hiptapes, a music marketing app that allows artists to create a unique QR code to link to dynamic content for concert calendar and artist merch. We loved what this does for artists in the increasingly important DIY marketing landscape and the possibilities for fan activity with numerous options of engagement. We awarded the Hiptapes developers with a discount off our commercial API licence to help them get this off the ground should they chose to turn it into a real business. Here’s to forward thinking innovation!
While music licensing can easily be a cure for insomnia, this post-lunch panel discussion on the topic managed to keep everyone’s attention focused on friction points, challenges and solutions across publishing, data, and settlement to content rights holders. Everyone agreed that a fair and equitable payment for intellectual property is the end goal, but there were many perspectives on which problems could and could not easily be solved. The panel included Richard Conlon, Senior Vice President Corporate Strategy, Communications & New Media at BMI, Steven Masur, Senior Partner at Masur Law, Cathy Merenda, Vice President of Music Publishing for Twentieth Century Fox, Vickie Nauman, President, North America for 7digital, Philippe Perreaux Founder of Rightsform and Rightsclearing, Jay Rosenthal, Senior Vice President & General Counsel for the National Music Publishers’ Association, and was moderated by Don Gorder, Chair and Founder of the Music Business / Management Department at Berklee College of Music.
After agreeing that the main licensing snarls revolve around data management, lack of resource and cross-border rights, all of the panelists spoke candidly about the extremely difficult realities of these problems. Jay Rosenthal noted that publishers seek faster payout and more transparency from labels, leading Steve Nasur to explain that the labels often have unfinished deals due to lack of resource. Cathy Merenda recalled returning a Fox check for a Beatles record they didn’t own the rights to and their dependence on intermediaries, and Richard Conlon echoed concerns of doing business in various regulatory environments and across borders in an increasingly globalised world. Our own Vickie Nauman commented that high-complexity/low-margin business affects the viability of new music services, explaining how many “get stuck in the tar-pit of licensing.” She went on to explain how 7digital works as both a licensor and licensee allowing new services and start-ups more ramp up time for their projects while admitting that 7digital doesn’t really eliminate the complexity, “we just take it on”.
Is there a global solution to all this tangled mess? Progress is being made – deals are being done, and thought-leaders continue to identify both problems and potential solutions. But there is still a lot of work ahead. In the meantime, companies passionate about music continue to plug away at licensing to keep up with the advancement of technology and consumer demand. It is reassuring that music is in high demand and should increase payments for rights holders including artists!
“Music + software + hardware + art + the web. Anything goes as long as it’s music related.” 7digital participated in another weekend of hacking and experimentation around music and code. We opened up our music platform along with some other great companies like The Echonest, Last.fm, Sound Cloud, Lyric Find and Songkick, just to name a few. Developers converged near the MIT campus and had 24 hours to build mashups and applications. 7digital had five great hacks on our system and we gave a prize to Jeremy Sawruk who created FeedTunes – which takes popular music posts on Twitter, identifies them through MusiXMarch lyrics, matches to 7digital’s music catalog and makes a hot playlist!
Eliot Von Buskirk’s blog post summary and list of winners: http://evolver.fm/2010/10/17/boston-music-hack-day-winners-announced/
We want to thank the organisers and all the amazing people who attended this weekend’s Music Hack Day in London. You came up with some really cool hacks and you continue to astound us with you creativity and ingenuity. Thanks to you all.
Congratulations goes to ‘Piracy’ who won the 7digital hack with ‘Track Dropper’, which they describe as – Think Geocaching for music… an android application allowing you to drop tracks from your music collection on your current location, and allowing others to pick them up if they are close enough. To see it in action watch their video demo.
This is the first example of a hack making use of the latest integration between 7digital and The Echo Nest APIs.
This weekend (4th September, 2010) sees the return of Music Hack Day to the Guardian offices in London, where 200 music geeks will be challenged to experiment with building the next generation of music applications.
At this weekend’s event developers will have the first chance to take advantage of our partnership with The Echo Nest which brings the 7digital open API, offering the most extensive MP3 catalogue with comprehensive international rights together with The Echo Nest’s intelligent music application development platform. This is an exciting event for us to be involved with, and along with all the other companies taking part we hope to see more great and innovative music services created on top of the 7digital API.
We are looking forward to seeing all the developers over the weekend and wish them the best of luck.
Visit our developer site to find out more about our API.