When new folks join Mashery, and they catch word that our group (DevO == Developer Outreach) is on the ground at boat loads of hackathons, the conversation often ends with them asking, “If an interesting hackathon around here comes along, can you let me know?” Of course, I send them a link to our events calendar; however, I often think of one local hackathon that would rock their socks off —Music Hack Day in San Francisco.
What makes Music Hack Day so special is it’s organic nature. The event sponsors are there purely to support developers, bringing APIs and tools for developers to build with, as well as financial support for developers to eat, drink and be merry. Business wheeling and dealing is discouraged to make way for creative juices to flow from everyone, including the sponsors, into creative, fun and interesting hacks for the love of music and technology.
Maybe it’s summed up the best right from the event web page: “Music Hack Day is an international 24-hour event where programmers, designers and artists come together to conceptualize, build and demo the future of music. Software, hardware, mobile, web, instruments, art - anything goes as long as it’s music related.”
For the past couple of years, Music Hack Day SF has been held at the offices of TokBox. Their space is open and inviting, and has indeed grown to feel like a home for this event. However, this year, GitHub opened up their HQ (ver 3.0) to Music Hack Day, and man alive, what an office. What an Oval Office. What? An Oval Office? Yes. Their reception area is a replica of the White House Oval Office. A hacker that walked in just as I did said, “I guess this is what happens when startups grow up.” I won’t go on about the Octocats strewn about the office.. such as the Octocat presidential portrait, or the Octocat Thinker sculpture, but, rest assured, they’re all there — and some how, everything felt in the right place.
Sold Out Show
On the very same weekend, Music Hack Day was competing with some other very popular events — Maker Faire in San Mateo and Bay to Breakers in the city. But, ne a developer that loveth music would miss the streaming music platform titans converging on GitHub that weekend, including Beats Music Rdio and Spotify. Other music platform companies that sponsored included Gracenote, The Echo Nest, OpenAura, Soundcloud, MusixMatch, MusicGraph and BandPage. A host of other companies also participated, including Hoist, SendGrid, Twilio, Leap Motion, Livid Instruments, and of course, Mashery.
About one hundred developers were on site on Saturday morning to kick off the event. By the end of the event, there were even more, if you counted the spectators. A total of 40 music hacks were built that weekend, and here are a few that we believe really sang:
- DJ Pebble by Ethan Fan - powered by APIs from Twitter, Twilio and Beats Music, and controlled from a Pebble wrist watch. Ethan’s app allows friends to tweet or text in songs into the party’s song queue, and of course, assume full DJ controls directly from your watch. DJ Pebble was chosen by the Beats Music team as the best integration of their API.
- Mixcandy by Micah Scott, Ching-Wei Chen, and Francis B - my vote for the most beautiful app. The team used the Gracenote API to evenly split a song into 64 parts (one for each button on the large MIDI pad) directly on the beat. Patched through was a beautiful fluid-like light display built by Micah — a dense multi-color LED panel that swirled like eddies to the beat of the music. Any person with a decent sense of rhythm could be made into a DJ mixing super star! So hard to believe that this was a browser based app.
- SickLineup by Matthew Fong - powered by the JamBase API. Matthew’s app solved a problem that he’s been trying to solve for years — a crowdsourced set (times) list for live shows in your city. Matthew’s demo was smooth and demonstrated some live real-time data from the crowd. We chose SickLineup as the winner of the Best Use of Mashery API, scoring Matthew a plethora of Beats Music gift cards!
For a full list of hacks from Music Hack Day SF 2014, visit Hacker League. Feel free to peruse our Flickr album for swell photos of the event. Big enormous thanks goes to The Echo Nest for organizing the event, as well as GitHub for hosting. A heart felt thanks and congratulations to all of the hackers who continued the tradition of making this hackathon a true gem.