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Boston Music Hackday 2011

Attended my second music hack day, hosted by The Echo Nest at the Microsoft NERD center in Cambridge.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, I developed the Toscanini  system at the event last year (click the link for the first blog post about Toscanini). The premise is this: hackers gather at the NERD center early Saturday morning, hear elevator (read: really long) pitches about each sponsor’s API, then they pair off and start hacking. There’s a crazy party that night also, which ?uestlove was supposed to DJ, but he backed out (as did I). Sunday morning you come back to the NERD center, complete your hack, and present.

My friend from last year’s hack day, Jeremy Sawruk (@composer314) came up again and set up shop in my living room. Julie Vera (@jvera), my cohabitational partner and SEO wiz, joined me this year as well. We met up with Jason Sigal (@therewasaguy) from the Free Music Archive of NJ to talk about making a pandora-like application for their site. He was thrilled about it, and we got to hang out with him all weekend.

The app can be found at It allows you to enter an artist, style, or mood, and will return a playlist of free music which can be filtered by license (either FMA limited or the various CC’s). There are two things that make this app truly great in my eyes. First, you can download the music instantly, for free. Secondly, the tracks you’re listening to are from bands ranging in popularity from local unknowns to Nine Inch Nails, and some of them are pretty rare remixes or live tracks. I had a blast working on it, and learning javascript in the process. That last part feels dirty, but whatever. Web development is definitely not for me, I shall remain a software dev forever.

The whole event was great. Brian Whitman (@bwhitman) of The Echo Nest showed us great hospitality as always, and people seem to really like our app. Just yesterday we received over 460 visits, and word is spreading. We have a meeting with the FMA people later on, and a few mobile developers we’re interested in bringing into the project.

For more information, including links to the articles written about FMA Radio, check out Jeremy’s blog at

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