Pandora brings first-ever music hackathon to Oakland

Music streaming service Pandora will help bring one of the largest-ever hackathons to its hometown of Oakland, the latest sign of the city’s growing pool of tech talent.

Gearing up for the semi-annual SF MusicTech Summit, Pandora is teaming up with Emeryville-based Gracenote to convene Oakland’s first-ever music hackathon this weekend. Up to 150 coders, developers and designers will gather at Pandora’s headquarters on Webster Street to dream up and create new applications for people to discover and listen to music.

Finalists from the 24-hour hackathon, which starts at 9 a.m. on Sept 28, will present their creation to judges at the SF Music Tech Summit on Oct. 1. The audience there includes the top ranks from the music and tech industries, including executives from Columbia records and Samsung, reps from Austin City Limits, writers for Billboard and tech websites, radio personalities, entrepreneurs and investors. Previous years have seen appearances from the likes of Michael Franti, Ben Folds and Incubus.

While hackathons have long been popular around a spectrum of themes and events such as football games and fashion shows, they have recently become more integrated with the music scene, especially in the Bay Area. Hella Hack Oakland, as the hackathon has been dubbed, follows less than two months after the first-ever Outside Lands hackathon, which was held in San Francisco in the days leading up to the three-day Outside Lands music festival. Gracenote, an entertainment tech company, also helped to organize that event, making Outside Lands the first high-profile Bay Area music festival to incorporate a hackathon.

Ching-Wei Chen, director of the developer program at Gracenote, recently told the Mercury News that “the culture fit between the music and tech world is so close here” that hackathons seemed a natural fit for music events.

The digitization of music has spurred more partnerships between tech companies, record labels and artists, and events like #HellaHack Oakland offer ways to explore new digital platforms for artists to market and share their music with a larger audience, and for consumers to more easily listen to their favorite tunes and discover new music.

The event is also a nod to Oakland’s growing tech scene, a melting pot of artists, coders and creative types with their own flavor of innovation. The hackathon also resonates with the city’s rich music history — artists such as Mac Dre and MC Hammer, and a spectrum of punk, hip-hop, jazz and pop musicians, have come from Oakland. And of course Oakland is home to Pandora, one of the first and largest Web-based music streaming platforms.

Perhaps this weekend Pandora’s next digital music rival will be born.

Image courtesy Hella Hack Oakland


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