The Artist’s Hack

Sunday at SXSW was the Artist’s Hack – where passionate developers from around the world gathered to build cool stuff.  Artist’s Hack was organized by Backplane and Spotify and is dedicated to building the future of music, art, video and collaborative though on the web and mobile during SXSW.

The hack was held at Raptor House – a short walk from downtown Austin. There was plenty of bandwidth, good food and beverages for the 8 hour hackathon.   APIs were in abundance: Spotify, The Echo Nest, SendGrid, Twilio, Youtube, Klout, Paypal, Gimbal, SeatGeek, Aviary, Etsy, Topspin, Chute, Dropbox, Music Dealers and others were all there in force offering their technology for hackers to use.


Hackers built around 20 hacks during the event.  Some of my favorites are:

  • biomuse – creates playlists based upon your biometrics. This was built on top of the biobeats platform. Quite neat stuff. Winner of one of the Echo Nest prizes.
  • Jamblot – visualize your song history in a creative way to commemorate any period of your life that affected your music choice.  Jamblot draws your song history for you. Winner of one of the Echo Nest prizes.
  • Party Together – ambient automatic shared playlists for your party. Winner of one of the Echo Nest prizes.
  • We browse in public – Stream all of your browser activity live to others. Chat with others based on their activity.
  • Bundio – Monetize dropbox.

My hack is A longer life for post-rock fans. This was my first time using the Twilio API. It was a lot of fun to build. The Twilio API and whole developer experience is awesome. Any company with an API should try to emulate what Twilio does.

One novel aspect of the event was that Cory Booker was one of the judges. Here he is watching Danny Kirschner give the Bundio demo


Cory is a pro – when there was a power outage that delayed some of the demos, Cory conducted an impromptu ‘interview’ with one of the founders of Backplane while the crew scurried to restore the power.

All in all, the Artist’s Hack was great fun, with lots of creative hacks. Well done Spotify and Backplane!

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