For its second edition, in 2012, Midem Hack Day truly got into its stride, attracting world-renowned developers who created truly memorable work. Tourrent Plans, for example (Ben Fields, then of Musicmetrics), allowed artists to set tour itineraries based on where their music is being the most illegally downloaded; and Paul Lamere even created a Midem music machine! (check out all the hacks here). It was also the very first Midem of a certain Syd Lawrence, who has since become one of music’s most recognised developers, via his own agency, Wemakeawesomesh. He made not one, but several hacks, the most complete being MyNight (below) and Artistify. He tells midemblog all, here!
midemblog: Could you describe the hack you developed?
Syd Lawrence: MyNight is a Shazam-type app that identifies a song you like, then suggests a number of club nights near you that are most likely to play your type of music. Artistify is a platform which allows artists to make their own Spotify apps.
> What came of demo’ing your creations at Midem?
There was no way of making a financial success of MyNight, but a few people at Midem were interested in it, notably as a way of securing correct licence fees for rightsholders for tracks played in clubs. It was also one of my first uses of The Echo Nest’s technology, inparticular their music recognition service, called Echo Print. And I’ve bundled the location-tracking tech into our latest app, Snowbuddy.
Artistify got a lot of attention and contacts from artist managers and labels, and even led to discussions with The Prodigy, about them using the platform. That didn’t work out due to Spotify app rules and regulations, unfortunately; but it was a fun project!
Overall, going to Midem and its Hack Day helped Wemakeawesomesh to evolve into a music and marketing-specialised agency, and allowed me to combine my dual passions of music and technology in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The agency wouldn’t be what it is today without Midem, Music Ally, Stephen O’Reilly (then of Mobile Roadie) and (Midem Hack Day organiser) Martyn Davies.
> What where your hacks inspired by? And what did you learn from them?
Artistify was inspired by Mobile Roadie’s philosophy, of enabling artists to make their own mobile apps; and MyNight came just from my wanting to find nights I’d enjoy. But ultimately it didn’t work because it’s hard to get full tracklists of whatever DJs are playing in any clubs. Only Richie Hawtin still does that to this day, to my knowledge. So there, I learned it’s hard to get something with nothing in return. We couldn’t really guarantee DJs bigger crowds simply from publishing their playlists. As for Artistify, the lesson was simpler: if you’re living under someone’s roof (in this case, Spotify’s), you have to play by their rules.
> How does your Midem Hack Day work still influence your work today?
MyNight was one of my first developments with geolocalisation. This technology is now a key feature of snowbuddy, our skiing app which uses GPS to track your speed, distance travelled and which pistes you want to head for; just as you would with a club in MyNight Besides that, we’re still active in the music space. We’re currently talking to Columbia about doing something with (French DJ and producer) Madeon, and are in discussions about a music campaign for a major sports brand. Essentially, we still do exactly what I said last Midem: brands have customers but want fans; music has fans but wants customers. We enable those exchanges to happen.
This is the second in a series of posts celebrating the fifth anniversary of Midem Hack Day, which will return next Midem, June 2015! More soon…