Music touches everyone, and MIRES project organisers say the Music Tech Fest is galvanising the world of music technology, drawing global recording labels and high-tech companies, start-ups and innovative SMEs, new and established performers, young innovators and hackers, designers and academics.
‘The field of Music Information Retrieval (MIR) has tended to centre on the analysis of sound signal, for the purpose of more efficient search and faster access to digital collections of recorded music,’ explains Michela Magas, coordinator of MIRES project and founder of Music Tech Fest.
Magas says the advent of web-based social networks has created a dynamic global market for digital music, collateral services and new user behaviour, with significant challenges and opportunities for commercial exploitation.
‘Our aim was to create an EU Roadmap for Music Information Research,’ she says, ‘to address major challenges, formulate research evaluation standards for the discipline, and open the field to cross-disciplinary collaboration.’
Workshops were to be a part of the project, allowing a meeting of minds between artists and scientists, industry and academia. The end result was a ‘festival of music ideas’, a creative platform for the free exchange of ideas, without jargon from individual fields of activity.
As soon as Music Tech Fest had a website, interest exploded. ‘The numbers of participants grew daily, and we soon realised that our budget was too low,’ Magas says. ‘So we got matching funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and my company, Stromatolite, invested substantially in the event.’ The MIRES project, which was completed in March 2013, had also received EUR 573 000 of funding under the EU’s Framework Programme 7 (FP7).
Unprecedented success for an EU project
The Music Tech Fest was launched in London in 2012, uniting major players like Soundcloud, Spotify, Shazam, EMI Music and the BBC, innovative labels like Ninja Tune and Warp, tech media like WIRED, great performers and a large number of innovative startups.
‘In 2014 we are going global,’ says Magas, ‘from Wellington to Boston, Berlin, Paris and New York.’ The flagship event in London is now part of the official autumn season of the Barbican LSO St Luke’s, in partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, and in 2015 the festival will come to the brilliant Umeå campus in Scandinavia, and to São Paulo, Los Angeles and Amsterdam.
While the astounding triumph of Music Tech Fest has been an unexpected result the MIRES initiative, the original goal of creating a European Roadmap has also been successfully achieved. ‘The final roadmap document has had a notable impact on the global MIR research community,’ she says, ’contributing to the establishment of music production and digital library management standards.’ It has laid also out a framework for an MIR excellence network, involving drivers and stakeholders in the field.
Some of the activities being promoted by MIRES might sound rather abstract and academic, but there is really much more at stake. The Music Tech Fest academic community has launched the ‘Manifesto for Music Technology Research’, highlighting the importance of these activities for all citizens and fields of study, and intellectual property policy debates.
‘The intersection of music and technology profoundly impacts upon the well-being, culture and creative experience of all citizens,’ Magas says, ‘while Music Tech Fest’s wide reach enables us to encourage new economic directions, new business models and new venture ideas.’
For more info, have a look at Andrew Dubber's blogpost: Science at 'state of the art', art at 'state of the science': Music Tech Fest, the global festival of music ideas