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MIT's First Music Hackathon Set for Veterans Day Weekend
[November 08, 2012]

MIT's First Music Hackathon Set for Veterans Day Weekend

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. --(Business Wire)--

MIT's (News - Alert) first ever music hackathon, a round-the-clock competition by teams of computer programmers, artists, and designers to produce music software applications, will be held on Nov. 10 and 11 at the Stata Center, 32 Vassar Street.

The keynote speaker for Music Hack Day at MIT is Fernando Garibay, a hit-making producer, DJ and artist. He has been nominated for four Grammy Awards and has worked with Lady Gaga, U2, and Britney Spears. He was musical director for Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" album.

Sponsored by over a dozen companies and the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, the Music Hack Day will attempt to generate innovative solutions to problems or issues posed by music industry representatives and entrepreneurs. More than 350 participants, most of them computer programmers, have signed up for the event.

"I am very excited to bring the music industry to the MIT campus," said event organizer Philip J. Cohen, a second year MBA student at the Sloan School of Management and a professional musician. "Even though most people associate MIT with science and technology, MIT has a phenomenal music and arts culture."

Hackathons have emerged in the past decade as an important arena for software development. Although the length of hackathons varies, a typical event lasts about two days with teams of programmers working all night, fortified with pizza and energy drinks. The next day, the teams present their accomplishments to the larger gathering, and prizes are awarded.

Hackathons sometimes produce partnerships between hackers and companies to commercialize computer hacks generated by the events. Hackthons have been responsible for some important software innovations, including Facebook's (News - Alert) "like" button and video chat feature.

MIT has hosted a number of hackathons in recent years but this is the first music hackathon on the campus. "MIT has long been a driver of the hackathon culture," said Cohen. "The computer engineering community and other parties get together to create some really cool new stuff, and that is exactly the intent of this Music Hack Day."

The event will start at 9 a.m. Saturday with registration and breakfast, followed by introductory sessions and lunch. At 2:30 p.m., the hackathon will begin in earnest with presentations of issues to be resolved. Small groups will then form to tackle the assignments. The groups will work until 2:30 p.m. Sunday, with breaks for dinner and breakfast. At 3 p.m., the groups will present their hacks.

Cohen said the format is effective. "When you give people hard and fast deadlines and you also provide them with resources, you create a unique and interesting culture that supports rapid development initiatives," he said.

Cohen said he got the idea for the MIT Music Hack Day after attending a music hackathon earlier this year at the Microsoft (News - Alert) New England Research and Development Center in Cambridge. He said the Somerville firm Echo Nest, a music data and intelligence platform, has played an important role in helping to organize the MIT event.

Other sponsors are Spotify, SoundCloud, MusiXmatch, Free Music Archive, Roqbot, Rdio, Gracenote (News - Alert),, Rhapsody, Twilio, Tokbox, and AudioCommon, a company Cohen launched earlier this year. In addition to helping to organize the hackathon, the sponsors provide prizes for the winning hacks.

Cohen, 33, a graduate of the US Air Force Academy who served in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf, is a singer-songwriter and leader of the Philip Cohen Band, an indie rock group that plays the club scene in Boston and New York City. His company, AudioCommon, is developing an online platform that opens a new avenue of communication for the music industry, and that artists and studio engineers can use to streamline the recording process.

Individuals who want to participate in the Music Hack Day can sign up online at Registration is free. Anyone who wants to observe the presentations on Sunday can sign up at For more information on the event, visit

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