Philip Plotnicki

@philip.plotnicki

A Tableau of Talent at the 2019 SXSW Hackathon — Where Collaboration & Artistry Meet

SXSW’s annual Hackathon has crowned its champions

The Notable Winners of SXSW’s 7th Annual Hackathon — Credit: Kenneth Eke

Reaching new heights has never been a problem during SXSW®’s Hackathons, especially after hosting it for the sixth time in a row. The event, which ran for 24 hours from March 12 to the 13, brought in a multitude of creative and innovative ideas on stage with no project being short of impressive.

Hosted by facilitators Travis Laurendine of ShowSparker.com and Luann Williams of SXSW, and presented by root9B (R9B), the competition brought 29 submissions to life. With hacker projects spanning from interactive phone apps to engaging software, sponsors like Universal Music Group (UMG), Native Instruments, Eluvio and others were positively affected by all projects.

The Competition

All of the sponsors that were present at this year’s Hackathon looked for something unique from the participating teams. R9B, Universal Music Group, Kony, Buzz Angle Music, Eluvio, Miro, Native Instruments, R3, Qloo, Cox Automotive and ShowSparker.com all had different expectations that led to the same goal: for the teams to be creative.

“We’re here to create the future of the music industry” — Travis Laurendine, ShowSparker.com

After introducing all of the sponsors and judges for this year’s Hackathon, teams were off to innovate and create. During the 24 hours of non-stop hacker blitzkrieg, participants were supplied with APIs from sponsors, massages from R9B, refreshments from the managing team and everything in between.

On March 13, teams were invited to showcase their creations to the panel of judges and all attendees. The judges included Scot Barbour, VP Production & Innovation of Sony Pictures Entertainment; Josh Constine, Editor-At-Large at TechCrunch; Louise-Marie Marguet, CEO of EmoJam; Lauren Vitek, Founding Employee at TravelBank; Jon Gottfried, Co-Founder of Major League Hacking; Andrew Dubber, Director of Music Tech Fest; and Tuhin Roy, Senior VP New Digital Business and Innovation at UMG. All were prepared to watch the music and entertainment industry be revolutionized by these 24-hour projects.

The Winners

With a total of $6,000 in cash prizes being awarded to the top teams, it was no surprise that the competition was fierce during the Final Presentations & Awards Ceremony.

Beat IT, allowing novice rappers to produce beats based on their lyrics — Credit: Kenneth Eke

All of the submissions sparked interest from the sponsors, especially UMG’s chosen winner and overall 2nd place winner, Beat IT, made up of teammates Andy Prevalsky, Kevin Tang, Sashreek Bhagavatula and Aman Gottumukkala. Their project was inspired by being able to leverage AI to create content based on the user’s needs. This was one of the few ideas that explored how Artificial Intelligence could support young and coming artists with their content creation.

“Making high fives more meaningful by enabling users to share music preferences with gesture motion sensing” — Credit: Kenneth Eke

The Hackathon’s third-place winner was taken by team Live High Five from Tokyo, Japan. Simply put, their project was produced to “make high fives more meaningful.”

Thermal map of “high fives” — Credit: Live High Five

Made up of Yuki Sasagawa, Mark Wake, Manabu Futamata, Kiyoshi Iwasaki and Takayuki Higurashi, their idea was inspired by SXSW’s Music Festival itself. Their app senses a user’s high five gesture and records when, where, and who they interacted with. Users could later browse who they interacted with, knowing what tracks and artists their connections enjoy listening to.

Honourable Mentions included ShowSparker.com’s chosen winner, Soundex, a ticket album app for consumers that assist them in discovering new music. Built by Christi Schneider, the mobile app lets concert-goers connect with other fans in the audience who have been to the same show, listen to recommended artists based on the shows a user has been to and much more.

Soundex’s website for tour managers to determine the route of locations artists should perform at

Using Qloo’s provided API, the software itself is perfect for tour managers who can view data points to let the management determine what locations artists can best perform.

Synaptic’s example of Virtual Reality music videos during the Final Presentations & Awards

Eluvio’s winning choice brought in the visuals and Blockchain technology by Synaptic, using Artificial Intelligence to generate Virtual Reality music videos that artists can edit, distribute and own rights to using the Blockchain. Compiled of teammates Iris Rodriguez, Anthony Pekearo, Yuma Yanagisawa and Sky Nite, they plan to develop the software to accept songs from Spotify and use the brand’s song metrics to produce smarter visuals.

“We have been sponsoring various hackathons from the largest collegiate hackathons to some of the most prestigious Silicon Valley events, but this was our first time at SXSW. I was interested in exploring the connection with the creative community, particularly in music. I came out with a fantastic story to tell our team and with a number of relationships and ideas with the hackers we met at the event. The focus and the quality of the participants made a huge impact and for us the ‘different’ background in music and arts of the participants was the fire to ignite several very exciting new ideas.” Serban Simu — Co-founder Eluvio, Inc.

Overall, teams were able to showcase their tech through their inspirations, succeeding in their end goal. However, only one team could take the SXSW Hackathon victory, and that team was Mover Prover, “inputting dance moves into the registry so that they can be trademarked, bought and sold.”

“Our database also lets the general public know which moves are for sale” — Mover Prover

Created by CJ Carr, Leila Noone and Julien Heller, Mover Prover invites users to create their own dance moves which their software captures in video form with their machine learning program and registers it into the Mover Prover database. The platform gives every creative move a distinctive name so that they can be trademarked and owned by their creator, also known as the user. The team’s broker system enables dance moves to be bought and sold, assigning ownership and empowering the creator to enjoy control over their creation, eliminating any consequences that may occur in an individual’s or company’s future. A mover can choose how their move should be used, who can buy it, sell it and how its likeness can be recreated and disseminated.

Filmmakers Anya Raza and Shaheen Nazerali produced an authentic and hilarious short film about Mover Prover‘s 24-hour escapade, which presented the team’s work- and play-ethic throughout the creation of the platform.

Mover Prover taking the grand prize — Credit: Kenneth Eke

In Closing

After an incredible show of innovation, collaboration and ideation, the Hackathon concluded at CU29 for an after-party, hosted by R9B, where all the developers, coders, and artists who’ve just spent 24 hours building new technologies for Music, AR/VR, AI, and Blockchain celebrated their accomplishments and wins.

Thank you to Luann Williams, Travis Laurendine, all judges, SXSW staff, sponsors and participating teams who took another step to showcase what talent is shown in Hackathons and what drive individuals and teams have to revolutionize technology.

See the full list of all the Hackathon projects here!

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