April 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Music Hackers Alert: Rethink Music 2012 Wants Your Brains

rethink music hackday hackers weekend hackathonApp ideas that make it upstream to app stores do not represent the totality of music apps.

Polished (or at the very least compiled) and ready for consumption, these “finished products” are the focus of most of our coverage here. But we’re also fascinated by the wackier fare that emerges from music hack days and other hackathons, such as the  TV hack day on a boat that made us appreciate how much the music industry understands the value of APIs.

These hacker-friendly events are like science fairs for music (but with beer and pizza). They give us mere civilians a rare glimpse into how developers build music apps. It’s like peering inside an R&D lab where people build functional stuff that is considerably more cutting-edge than a karaoke app, even if it might lack the same mass-market appeal.

This brings us to the Rethink Music Hackers Weekend, which takes place on April 21 and 22 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Developers and other interested parties should sign up now while there’s space. It’s free, and they’ll get a chance to meet other hackers, not to mention make more cool stuff for us to write about. There’s also an after-party to be thrown by The Echo Nest (publisher of Evolver.fm), which is not exactly known for throwing lame after-parties.

If you’re starving for ideas, pick one from our wish list. I know our editor would be happy if someone would finally find a way to sync music to his ever-so-slightly-off-time windshield wiper blades (ed. note: or, even better, make LifeListen).

The Hackers Weekend portion of the Rethink Music event will be hosted at Microsoft’s New England Research & Development Center, or Microsoft N.E.R.D (located at 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA). The Rethink after-party will take place the following Monday.

Music hack days have been springboards for a some of the coolest, weirdest music apps out there. We’ve also seen full-fledged startups cut their teeth at hacker weekends. As generally non-commercial events, they’re a chance to test out projects that might be unlikely to make money but are cool anyway, like the web apps that turn the Queen hit “Bohemian Rhapsody” into an instrument or represent your favorite band as a sandwich. If you hadn’t noticed from some of my past coverage, I hold a special place in my heart for these kinds of apps.

Rethink Music continues until April 24th with great speakers, including the guy who got me started writing about music, the guy who wrote some of the smaller, more colorful books I read in college, and the guy who managed to make copyright law interesting during that same period. (The last one was gracious enough not to laugh when I tried to apply those legal “skills.”)

We’ll be there reporting on the action and covering the latest wave of creative music hacks, as we always like to do at these things. See you there.