Cloudinary Users Score at Canadian Music Week Hackathon
Today’s music industry is now a “new” music industry — And it is a pretty exciting place for artists. The many gatekeepers and barriers to breaking into the business have vanished thanks to new technology which is leveling the playing field, and creating more access for artists to engage directly with their audiences.
For the recording industry, this change has been strikingly fast and not without its challenges. Artist’s today demand more creative control, and not just for their music, but in almost every aspect of their own brand. The balance of financial rewards has flipped, with many record labels struggling to survive as many superstar artists cut their connections and attempt to connect with fans directly.
New technologies including live media streaming, augmented reality and blockchain transactions offer a promise to address some of the major challenges facing the music industry.
On May 8–9, 2018, the organizers of Canadian Music Week –the longest running and second-largest music and technology conference in North America–hosted a hackathon for the first time. The purpose of the CMW Hackathon was to challenge coders, developers, artists, designers, and technical specialists to create innovative solutions that address roadblocks the country’s music business faces.
Despite being the first hackathon for CMW, the event drew heavy hitters to Toronto. It was hosted by Travis Laurendine, who has overseen similar events for SXSW, Outside Lands, Bonnaroo, and the Super Bowl. The judges were a panel of who’s-who of CXO’s, music executives and investors.
Cloudinary was a proud sponsor of the event. What made us even prouder was that two of the top three project winners leveraged our feature-rich solution for image management and delivery.
A key theme across many of the projects was a focus on creating a new user experience with music.
# First-Place Winner: SATE
First place went to SATE, an immersive, augmented reality (AR)-enabled concert application that uses live concert performances and sound to trigger AR experiences for concert goers on their mobile devices.
What is interesting about the app is that it allows the artists to take control of the experience, express themselves through that video and allows them to control what the viewer sees while they’re taking the recording of your performance. — SATE
# Second-Place Winner: Good Kid
The second-place winner was Good Kid, a Toronto-based band who created a platform for artists to determine whether their band name, song title, or album name is the best for their genre. To build their own deep-learning algorithm, the team used data scraped from numerous publicly-available music sources and datasets to pinpoint what genres are associated with band names.
The application matches the results of the band-name search with similar artists and with their matching artwork provided by Cloudinary’s Music Discovery Service (MDS) API. That API is part of an example blueprint application we built with 7Digital and Capitol Music Group during Capitol360 to enable hackathon participants unfettered access to the label’s catalog of music. The team consumed the MDS API and then further transformed the album artwork through Cloudinary’s fetching and transformation APIs.
For their winning project, Cloudinary awarded Good Kid support service for one year to help bring their platform to market.
# Third-Place Winner: Databots
Databots won third prize, transforming their love of Canadian death metal into an online universe and a destination for bands to reach a wider audience. According to Mark Shuldiner of the Databots team, when he arrived at the hackathon, he didn’t have a specific idea of what he wanted to do. However, by the time he had to pitch his proposal, he was “sold on the theme of a computer-generated metal musician.” Mark’s group was tasked with handling the music; he focused on creating an accompanying visual.
As a hackathon mentor, I see many developers hit that proverbial wall when trying different approaches to solve their problem. Mark reached out to me for help: what would be an innovative and programmatic approach to visualizing AI-generated audio? I suggested turning the audio into video and further visualizing it by leveraging Cloudinary’s audio-waveform feature.
# A Consensus
All the participating teams agreed that even though hacking innovative projects at CMW was extremely challenging, the exercise offered them an invaluable opportunity to be just as creative as the artists they showcased in their projects. Everyone relished the experience.
By all accounts, our participation at The Canadian Music Week Hackathon was a natural fit for Cloudinary; As we are a company that’s obsessively focused on optimizing media delivery and performance to ultimately provide the best possible user experiences for everyone. We look forward to participating in future events, helping SATE build out V2 of her app and if you have any fun creative ideas, comment below.