Photo: Hackers hacking at midem 2012
After two successful midem hack days in 2011 and 2012, it was very easy to say yes to doing a third. Taking 30 developers down to the Palais des Festivals in Cannes every January has now become a staple of the Music Hack Day calendar.
Kicking off the year with one aim in mind; creating a music related hack in 48 hours that will excite and inspire the great and the good of the music industry in attendance. For the uninitiated, I should probably explain a little about how this differs from a standard hackathon and, should you be lucky enough to get out there in 2013, what you could expect from the experience.
This event is small: just 30 developers, chosen by a panel of trusted experts, all of whom have either been instrumental organisers of Music Hack Day events around the world, or have been regular attendees at many of the events. Bottom line – they know hackers, hacking and hack days and I’m proud that they help me out.
Typically, everyone arrives on the Friday and are shuttled from the airport to their respective hotels, where they are (lightly) encouraged by me to come out for the usual pre-hack social that for the last few years has taken place at a bar close to the festival called Le Crillon, a small spot with good burgers, free wifi and a range of drinks priced reasonably for Cannes. We’ve closed out the bar on more than one occasion.
Saturday arrives and the world class hacking crew arrive on the midem floor and have to sit through an hour of me talking about the event, the developers, the hacks and reminding people to be around on Monday when we present the fruits of 2 days of coding. Then we head to our dedicated ‘hacking lounge’, and that’s where things get a bit more like a normal hack day. Everyone in attendance has been to at least one hack day music or otherwise, so the routine of introductions followed by a quick pitch of ideas about what they might build is nothing new. It’s a good ice-breaker and this is the point where ideas change, teams get formed and tweaks and advice can be given.
It’s this moment that I start to get really excited about the coming 48 hours – with a group of hackers as small as this, there’s time for everyone to feed into everyone else’s ideas and I find that, out of the gate, the plans that get formed are usually those that get presented in the end. It’s a very reassuring session to go through.
Hacking continues until late the following afternoon. Ideas are tweaked, scrapped, revised, thrown across the room until there’s just no more time left and everyone has a well deserved drink/sleep.
On the (Visionary) Monday, all the hacks are presented to an audience of midem attendees (cf. last time, in the above video), who also get the opportunity to ask questions of the developers and get a deeper insight into the ideas they liked.
Then we all have a pizza, a drink and try to catch a bit of music at one of the many gigs. Last year I ended up watching DJ Jazzy Jeff play in a tiny club on some Cannes back street with about 100 other people. There’s photos somewhere, don’t ask to see them.
So if that sounds like an interesting weekend to you, why not fill out the application (deadline: November 23) and you might be joining us at the end of January to show the music industry what kinds of innovation can really be achieved with open APIs, bits of data and a room full of people with crazy ideas.
Martyn Davies is European developer evangelist for SendGrid, CEO of Six Two Productions and Music Hack Day central coordinator. Follow him on Twitter here.
Davies also features in this video presenting midem hack day, with Reactify’s Yuli Levtov and The Echo Nest’s Paul Lamere: