Analysis

Midem Hack Day 2014: Music hacks from 25 developers unveiled (#midem)


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paul-lamere

Y’know what? We bloody love music hack days. They’re an explosion of playful, inventive, innovative and above all creative hacks from people thinking less about building the next big music/tech business, and more about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with the proliferation of music APIs.

This year at Midem, 25 hackers have been beavering away on the top floor of the Palais, in an event sponsored by streaming services Deezer and Spotify. This morning, the results were unveiled.

SendGrid developer evangelist and Music Hack Day coordinator Martyn Davies kicked things off. “We brought developers down here to Cannes this weekend to spend 48 hours developing new and awesome projects with music and technology,” he said, noting that this year’s group of hackers have come up with 18 projects.

And they were:

This Is Your Tour: A hack that helps artists plan a tour. “You can automatically plan and build a tour based around who you are” using social media and torrent data to route the tour where people like their music, and then pulls in places to eat, drink and stay around those cities. It pulls in Google Maps, images from Flickr of each city.

Happy Clappy: A hack from two of Spotify’s developers. “Why can’t we just clap our hands and have some music discovered for us?” And that’s the hack: an app that detects the user’s clapping, then finds tracks that matches that tempo for beats-per-minute. “If you have a tune stuck in your head, or a rhythm, we can find a track that matches that mood.”

Cannes Burn (above): The work of The Echo Nest’s Paul Lamere: a spectacular 3D visualisation of a song, pulling in images to match Ellie Goulding’s ‘Burn’.

Scape List: This combines Instagram with music: if a user uploads a picture, they can describe it with a song rather than words. “Attach a song to this landscape,” encourages a button, with the example being a Grand Canyon shot. Other people can then attach their songs too, and the result is a Spotify playlist curated by people who’ve looked at the image.

neoScores: An existing digital sheet-music service, but their hack this weekend was to integrate neoScores into Deezer. “The music is following the tune of Thelonious Monk within Deezer…” The notes are highlighted as they’re played in the Deezer stream too: very clever.

Skrillex Invader 20: Space Invaders meets a Skrillex-themed keyboard – as in a physical keyboard. “You have to catch the invaders with Skrillex to score points…” It looks quite hard, but fun. And the developer also worked on a version using Daft Punk’s music.

Scratchy Record: A virtual record player. “Vinyl is great when you’ve got hisses and dirt on your needle!” So the hack has the ability to add and remove hiss, pops and insert random skips. “Maybe we skip, maybe we don’t!”

dj

DJ Spotify (above): “I wanted to start DJing recently, but I realised I was a very early adopter of Spotify… I’ve not bought any music for six years, I’ve just been streaming it.” So this opens a second instance of Spotify, and controls it using an Ableton DJ interface. And there’s also a Spotify app for it that lets playlists be dragged and dropped in, pulling in their BPM data. “I’m available to do weddings, funerals, barmitzvahs… and I’ve got a catalogue of 22m songs!”

That One Song: from the co-founder of This Is My Jam, it aims to solve the problem of someone saying ‘have you heard this band, check them out!’ and you have to then choose from dozens or hundreds of songs. This hack lets you enter a band name, and based on This Is My Jam’s data, it’ll suggest which song you should listen to. There’s even a ‘B-side’ feature for hipsters – a more obscure song by the artist that people have loved lots on the main site. You can use it now yourself here.

Be a Real Hipster: an app to help you “impress your friends with obscure music”. You log in using Facebook, it analyses the Likes of your friends, and then for each of them recommends a band they probably haven’t heard of in their favourite genre. They can listen to it, and watch its video from YouTube. You can play with this one too here.

PhatStats: the work of Syd Lawrence from We Make Awesome Sh. It pulls in data on trending videos based on how much they’re being shared: weekly, daily, hourly and in real-time, turning them into charts, with a neat dashboard analysing interactions on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Bang the Biebs: A game built in JavaScript where the aim is to “bang as many Biebers as you can without banging the red Biebers”. With Miley Cyrus making a cameo appearance. And it’s controlled using the LeapMotion motion controller.

Nikantas: A language-learning hack using music: you choose an artist, then it shows you lyrics with blank boxes inserted, and your job is to type in the correct words as the song plays. You’re scored on your performance too.

Video Fairy: A hack for people who just want to watch music videos. It’s a hack for TV that requires minimal interaction to get some music videos you might like, based on your Last.fm data. Controlled by the TV remote, it’s easy to skip tracks too. “Super simple!”

Jubal: A site that plays a music video (you can test it here), gets people to log in with their Facebook accounts, and then get music videos that their friends have posted – and the system slowly learns what your tastes are, judging by what you mark as loved or hated.

Playlist Plus: An app for iPad that helps people create playlists, then add comments and share with friends. It could be made to make “an ultra-modern version of a mixtape”, or a journalist could write their review as embedded notes on tracks.

PartySaver for Deezer: A hack trying to make streaming services “prettier”: a playlist that runs full-screen using big, bold images of each artist as their song plays. The developers also have a prototype that works with a remote control.

Stuart Dredge

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