By Nicole d’Avis
BerkleeICE is redefining how Berklee students participate at South by Southwest (SXSW). This year, we brought four Berklee students who made a strong debut at SXSW 2016, not on stage, but as marketing coaches to start-up teams in the festival’s first Music Incubator. The Incubator was an extension of the SXSW Music Hackathon, now in its fifth year, and was designed to give additional time, resources, and mentoring to the winning teams, allowing them to develop their winning concepts into launchable products.
The Hackathon was produced by Travis Laurendine of Codemkrs, with input from Panos Panay, BerkleeICE’s managing director, and IDEO partner Michael Hendrix. Specifically, Travis, Panos, and Michael were interested in how this year’s Hackathon could explore innovative approaches to fair compensation for artists, a continuation of our Fair Music Report published in 2015.
BerkleeICE sponsored the Hackathon as well as the attendance of four music business/management majors to attend SXSW, serve as marketing consultants to the winning teams, and work alongside them during the three-day Incubator. Students Thomas Chardin, Elena Goddard, Matthew Mannino, and Daniya Murat observed the 24-hour Hackathon, which was also sponsored by companies like SONOS, Amazon’s Alexa, IBM Watson, Ujo, and Lyft. All sponsoring companies contributed their APIs, as well as cash prizes. During the Hackathon, participants also received support from mentors Panos Panay, Alex Ebert, entrepreneur and lead singer of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Michael Hendrix, Kiran Gandhi, music industry strategist and musician who performs as Madame Gandhi, musician Ryan Leslie, and Hackathon producer Travis Laurendine.
After the winners were selected, the Berklee students each matched themselves with a winning team. The teams had proposed product concepts, including a virtual reality drumset, an app connecting fans with spontaneous pop-up concerts by their favorite bands, and a service allowing users to listen in on the music their favorite athletes or musicians are streaming.
Read BerkleeICE Managing Director Panos Panay’s perspective on the Hackathon: “5 Things I Learned at the SXSW Music Hackathon”.
Students Showcase Their Creative Entrepreneurship Skills
When kicking off the Hackathon, Travis quoted design innovator Rei Inamoto, saying, “Successful teams need a hipster, a hacker, and a hustler.” The creative entrepreneurship approach by the Berklee students was the perfect combination of hipster and hustler to complement the strengths of the Hackathon teams.
After observing the Berklee students at work, Travis commented, they “totally made it happen for that team to go live, overcame many obstacles and ups and downs,” and went to add that the experience overall “was the bite-sized version of the entrepreneurial journey.”
More: Read student Matt Mannino’s perspective on the Hackathon: “SXSW Hackathon Helps Music Catch up to Technology.”
Nicole d’Avis is the operations and events manager of Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship. Previously, d’Avis worked for more than 10 years in the youth development field in Boston, with Sociedad Latina at the grassroots level, and on a global scale with the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network at the Museum of Science.