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MIA Music Summit: Where music and culture meet tech and innovation

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com / @ndahlberg

 “You know it won't be ur regular tech conference when u walk in and there's live #reggae playing!,” tweeted Tech Cocktail’s Camila Souza at the start of the inaugural MIA Music Summit on Monday.

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That turned out to be so true.

Irme-aThe summit held at the New World Center on Miami Beach included a smart lineup of 40 speakers from the industry including Ime Archibong (pictured here), Facebook’s director of Product Partnerships, Scott Chitoff, chief legal officer at Zumba Fitness, Liv Buli, resident data journalist for music analytics company Next Big Sound, and Howard Herring, president and CEO of the New World Symphony, with Derrick Ashong of Fusion, known to many as DNA, as MC. 

There were startup demos on stage, live cartooning by Gapingvoid's Hugh MacLeod, and digital tech interactive games in the lobby. And with a hackathon and after-party the day before, the summit itself, a dinner and another after-party, there were plenty of opportunities to connect. In total, about 500 people participated in the activities, produced by MIA Collective.

And did we say music?  During the breaks, at the after-parties and in a starring role in the summit’s finale -- more on that later. “We tried to make it fun. I go to a lot of music-tech conferences where there is pretty much no music. We tried to put music everywhere,” said Demian Bellumio, COO of Senzari and one of the main organizers of the Summit and the MIA Music HackDay. Even one of the Startup Demos, BeatBuddy, was set to music.

 

 

 

In between, there were talks on Miami Beach’s music-tech industry,  branding, licensing, big data, digital music and more.   

“I love music, I am an entertainment music lawyer, I love entrepreneurship and innovation, all my passions were rolled into one,” said Marlon Hill, who attended the conference and live tweeted the highlights. “My expectation was to learn … more about the cutting edge tools and trends that were available for me to better understand as a lawyer but also to open doors for my clients. I thought spending the day immersed  with these people who are breathing it everyday was priceless.”

At a panel about crowdfunding panel, Juan Pablo Cappello of idea.me, Benji Rogers of Pledgemusic and Vann Alexandra Daly, a well-known crowdfunding producer, shared tips on using crowdfunding platforms, which in total raised $5.1 million for projects and entrepreneurs around the world in 2013.  A current example that Daly was producing was Neil Young’s cutting edge audio player; he has raised over $4.8 million so far.

 “He had star power, of course, his fan base. There was pent-up need for this project as he announced it about five years ago. The press was helpful, … we targeted an audiophile audience. Video is critically important to share your story,” said Daly.

But for most of us it’s not easy.  “90 percent of successful campaigns raise 30 percent in the first week in funding,” said Cappello, adding that if the campaign doesn’t gain early traction it may be better to shut it down, rework it and relaunch later.

As for rewards, ask your fans what they would want, said Rogers. Also, “think of your project from launch all the way through to delivery of your product. If you are delayed let the pledgers know immediately. You can use the delays for a marketing advantage, such as ‘the project is delayed, but here are three tracks for you now.’ “

MarloncoryIn an on-stage interview with Ashong, Corey Ondrejka, Facebook's VP of Engineering who headed the social network's transition to mobile, was asked about ecosystem building and what Miami may need.

“For a thriving ecosystem, what makes the location unique? The culture is really defined by the differences. Miami has this unbelievable and historic music scene, thriving collisions and an intermingling of cultures, and it’s so close to the Americas to Europe. That’s step one. Step two, you need people willing to take the risks. … if you have a culture where there is a stigma to failure, that will crush a community.  Step 3, initial seed funding. Telling your story... Step 4: the hardest one, sophisticated investors,” he said. “That’s the playbook, … but you have to commit to doing this and support people in every one of these parts.”

What shouldn’t be in the playbook, he said:  “ ‘Step one: copy Silicon Valley.”That doesn’t work.”

He talked Facebook’s transition to mobile, a process that took a year to relaunch the products and another year to get rid of the mobile team because “If you have something that is more than half of everything you do, it can’t be some specialized team off in the corner.”

Noting that at no time in history has technology and communications changed so rapidly, “in the next couple of years, 2 to 3 billion people around the world are going to go from no [internet] connection or very sporadic connection to the type of connection we take for granted with smartphones.  “This is going to be an unbelievably  exciting time for entrepreneurs.”

Photo (15)Matt Haggman, Miami program director of the Knight Foundation, a lead sponsor and partner along with Miami-based tech startup Choose Digital, said the speakers were extraordinary but the greatest part were the breaks -- seeing the energy, new faces and connections being made. There was plenty of business getting done too, added Bellumio, who would like to make this an annual event.

 Then the five finalists of the weekend MIA Music HackDay presented their hacks on stage. Leho, Song-Traction, Tripstr and Load.fm gave it their best, but the judges chose iRemix based on the viability of the project. Erik Mendelson and Brandon West, who  created an app to make your own remix, received the $1,000 cash Tres Mares prize and $16,000 in services (pictured here).


Photo (16)Appropriately capping off the conference:  A performance that perfectly mixed beautiful music with cutting-edge technology. The experiment: Musicians in Stanford University and the New World Center, separated by 3,000 miles, performed a byzantine chant together, and then used Stanford’s technological modeling to capture the music as it would sound in the Memorial Church on Stanford’s campus and then the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (photo here). “As far as cool places to model, our next stop is an ancient temple in Peru,”  said Chris Chafe, director of Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. 

 

 Wrapping up, Ashong said: “The vision of doing this event .. is to catalyze the community of creators and innovators that  can help to take the scene in Miami to a next level – and that is all of you.”

Read more about Music HackDay here.

Read the next Business Monday for more on music-technology and aspirations to be a music-tech hub.

CREDITS: The photo of Derrick Ashong and Core Ondrejka was taken by Marlon Hill. The videos of BeatBuddy and the Stanford presentation were by Alex Fuentes, aas was the photo of musical entertainment during a break in the summit. The other photos and video were by me.

RELATED: See Our City Thoughts' event compilation here as sound, tech and data converge.

Posted March 25, 2014

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