Everything about music seems to be entwined with rapidly advancing technology, from how it’s made to how it’s consumed.
Recently, Sony Music hosted its inaugural “Rock and Code Developer Weekend Contest,” which the company says is the first of an ongoing series. The objective: to bring developers, artists and music executives into the same room to come up with solutions for both consumers and professionals in the music industry.
“I’d say our three goals were really to engage the developer community, learn from them and what they’re doing, and help them understand what’s happening in music,” said Brad Spahr, the Vice President of Product Development for Sony Music Entertainment’s Global Digital Business group.
Over the course of 48 hours, developers came together in both group and individual categories to create a diverse set of products that addressed some of the pressing needs of the music industry: How can artists collaborate with other artists; how can fans discover new artists; and what is the best way to maximize fan engagement and interaction.
There were 14 presentations in all, including several geared toward virtual reality. There were also music discovery applications, and products that could help Sony identify emerging talent. The contest also had a diverse panel of judges: 12 Sony Music executives from a variety of departments including legal, finance, A&R and marketing.
Headquartered at the tech consultancy ThoughtWorks, contestants were supplied with templates such as Spotify and Deezer APIs that they could choose to build from. The end result was an array of new platforms, each with its own unique selling point. One, called Roots, helps users discover new music by tracking their favorite artists’ musical influences. Other technologies, like the project Music Hub, assist the user by connecting them to a network of fellow musicians.
The winner in the individual category was YouTube Viral, a digital tool to help companies such as Sony keep an eye on rising artists. Synergy, think Tinder for music, won second place.
First place in the group category went to a project called Pvrty (pronounced “party”), created by developers Andre Smith and Kent Rahman. The app is a virtual-reality experience in which the user acts as the DJ and connects with other users across the world.
“[Pvrty is] a collaborative effort,” Smith said, “You use Microsoft Kinect to track how your body moves, to watch you dance, and give you props while DJing. It’s more of a visceral event.”
The rising Nashville-based band Coin closed out the event with a short set. They marveled at the projects and revealed their support for the development series.
“Events like this can literally change the landscape of music technology and the way people discover music,” Coin frontman Chase Lawrence noted. “It’s cool to be in a think tank like this with all these people who could potentially change the way our fans receive our music.”
Drummer Ryan Winnen added, “It’s interesting to be out on the road and playing every night, and then realize that there are so many people thinking about how to expose the music.”