Highlights from SF Music Hack Day, 2013

by Kara Murphy on February 18, 2013

This was the 4th time Music Hack Day visited San Francisco.

Music Hack Day visited San Francisco for the 4th time since 2009.

This past weekend, close to 200 music tech enthusiasts packed the lofty office space of TokBox, in the SOMA district, to build the future of music apps at SF Music Hack Day.

Participants were given 24 hours and 19 different APIs to pick and choose from including the likes of Mashery, Spotify, Rdio, Twilio, and Gracenote (who just opened their APIs and SDKs to developers for the very first time on Saturday, the 16th).

The results came in the form of some truly inspiring hacks that were creative, entertaining, and might even change the future musical landscape for the better. While covering all 60 demos that were slotted into 2-minute time frames would be exhausting and, ultimately, counterproductive, I do recommend you check out all of the project proposals on the Hacker League page.

In the meantime, here are 6 hacks I enjoyed for their ingenuity, usefulness, or both.

The Bonhamizer

the bonhamizer

What would your favorite artists sound like if Led Zeppelin’s drummer, John Bonham, were backing them? Every band needs a little “Bonzo;” at least that’s what Echonest’s Paul Lamere, who can always be relied on to come up with something wonderfully bizarre, thought when he demoed The Bonhamizer app to illustrate how contemporary musicians like Adele and fun. could benefit from his presence.


There were several apps that integrated Vine’s short video clips into their hacks. Soundvine stood out for its simplicity and ease of use. Enter the URL of any Vine video, another from an audio track, and presto – your clip has a soundtrack. Creator Matt Montag illustrated this nicely by using the Andy Sandberg/Chris Parnell track “Lazy Sunday” into what would’ve otherwise been a dismal clip of someone walking on a sidewalk.


Here’s a scenario: it’s Friday night and you want to enjoy some live music. Where do you go? Hopscotch.fm gives users a one-stop destination where they can browse, discover, and listen to artists playing on any date at any venue.


Certain to be a conversation-starter at any party.

Certain to be a conversation-starter at any party.

Google’s Ian McKellar has been creating web apps for years and decided it was time to build a physical instrument…in the form of a piano necktie! Built with a Teensy 3.0 ARM based microcontroller, it’s designed to work with any USB midi-capable synth.


In the era of digital music, accessibility has certainly improved. However, the whole tactile experience of browsing through album artwork and discovering the names of key contributors including mixers, engineers, and producers has been lost. LinerNotes aims to bring that experience back into the digital interface by utilizing a combination of vast informational databases including the Rovi, Echonest, and MusicBrainz.


Anyone who has worked in the business of music knows that artists make a bulk of their profits from touring and merchandising. Merchr, created by Spotify’s resident Hacker Advocate, Andrew Mager, aims to solve a widespread (literally) problem.

This repository aims to become a central resource for artist merch links as well as an analytics hub. The top 50 artists from Echonest have already been added in with hopes of community contributions fleshing out the remainder of the database.

Don’t forget to register

If you’ve missed this event, you can catch some of the finalists presenting their hacks tomorrow at SF MusicTech Summit. If you don’t have a ticket yet, register here.

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