Music Tech Fest

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Music Tech Fest
Music Tech Fest.jpg
The 'festival of music ideas', bringing artists and scientists as well as academia and industry into a common creative space.
GenreElectronic music, etc.
Location(s)Berlin, Boston, Frankfurt, Genoa, Helsinki, Karlsruhe, Liège, Ljubljana, London, Paris, Stockholm, Umeå and Wellington
Founded byMichela Magas
WebsiteMusic Tech Fest official site

Music Tech Fest (MTF) is a three-day arts festival and creative space where participants share and "develop new formats of musical performance and expression." It is billed as the 'festival of music ideas'.

MTF presents technological innovations and artistic experimentation, performance, new inventions, commercial applications, and academic research.

Music Tech Fest events are streamed live online, and videos of individual presentations are made available on YouTube.

The festival runs a 24-hour weekend hackathon and an academic symposium known as the 'afterparty' on the Monday following the weekend's event. At the Boston afterparty, participants collaborated on the composition of a Manifesto for the Future of Music Technology Research.[1]


Music Tech Fest began as result of the Roadmap for Music Information Research (MIReS),[2] a European FP7 project run by seven European research centers: Music Technology Group at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona; Stromatolite; OFAI, Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Vienna, Austria; INESCP, Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores, Porto, Portugal; IRCAM at the Centre Pompidou in Paris; Centre for Digital Music (C4DM), Queen Mary, University of London, UK; and Barcelona Music and Audio Technology (BMAT), Barcelona, Spain.

The project's Scientific Director Michela Magas of Stromatolite launched the first Music Tech Fest event in London 2012 as a way to bring academics and practitioners together. The first festival included contributions from EMI, BBC, Spotify, Soundcloud and Shazam as well as academic researchers, makers, developers and artists. MTF London 2012 featured 54 performers and presenters, 70 hackers and 70 creatives.[citation needed]

In May 2013 the festival ran again in London with the additional involvement of all of the major record labels. In September of that year, Professor Andrew Dubber from Birmingham City University joined as festival director. In 2014, the festival went on tour with events in Wellington, Boston, London, Berlin and Paris. In 2015 festival organisers scheduled larger regional events, rather than focusing on individual cities: MTF Scandinavia in Umeå and MTF Central Europe in Ljubljana.[citation needed]. In September 2018, MTF took part in Stockholm, Sweden. It had more than 500 participants and some prominent artists as guests, including Imogene Heap. MTF is also a proud supporter of women in music and tech. While most music festivals struggle to find enough female representatives and oblige themselves to reach 50% of a female lineup by 2020, MTF achieved that in 2018.

Starting with 2015, the Music Tech Fest is supported by the EU Horizon 2020 project MusicBricks which aims at fostering creative development of new ideas around music technology and supporting pilots which lead to market prototypes. This opens the pathway to reach a wider community of creative SME innovators.[3]

Hack Camp[edit]

Music Tech Fest supports the growing hack culture, and promotes it as an important source of creativity. The festival frequently contains its own hackathon, MTF Hack Camp, which runs for 24 hours from Saturday afternoon to Sunday.[4] Like Music Hack Day events, the MTF hack camp focuses on music-related hack challenges, but with a particular focus on performance with tangible objects, physical concepts and new integrations between software and hardware. There are competitions held at each MTF hack camp where individuals and groups work in response to particular challenges that reflect the themes of each festival. MTF hack camp challenges have engaged with ideas of accessibility (London 2014), fashion and wearables (Paris 2014), and creative spaces (Berlin 2014).

The festivals in London and Umeå also involve a Kids Hack which Andrew Dubber discussed in an interview for WebTVspot as an 'opportunity for families and young people to get involved'.[5] The MTF website and YouTube pages show performances from the Kids Hack, of participants presenting simple gestural controllers and instruments. Some of the older 'hackers' showed some more complex projects including a remote controlled Tricopter with a camera which was connected to some video goggles to navigate and film the Tricopters flight.[6]


Similar to a hackathon but for music producers, Music Tech Fest's trackathon gives musicians 24 hours, audio tools and samples with which to make a piece of music adhering to a unique challenge or brief set by the festival. For example, remixing a song by English indie rock band Everything Everything (London 2013) or making a 'sad banger' (Stockholm 2018). At MTF Stockholm the winning tracks were released as an album, the proceeds of which went to the charity Musicians Without Borders.[7]


Music Tech Fest promotes cross-discipline communication and collaboration as a method of pushing innovation throughout the creative industries. #MTFLabs is typically a five-day event, in which hand-picked artists, scientists and inventors work on a single final performance, tying in a central theme such as fuzzification (Stockholm 2018) or vocal AI (Frankfurt 2019).

#MTFLabs have been run in partnership with MIT Media Lab, Ars Electronica Future Lab, #MusicBricks, with participants such as Viktoria Modesta, Anouk Wipprecht, Eska, Reeps One, Moritz Waldemeyer, and have been covered by WIRED, Make, Radio Eins, Midem, and Makery.[8]

MTF Scandinavia 2015[edit]

MTF Scandinavia took place in Umeå Sweden from the 29–31 May 2015.[9] The festival included presentations and performances from Jon Eades from Abbey Road Red, Abbey Road's new technology and innovation incubator, electronic artist Scanner, Robin Rimbaud and founder of English electronic group 808 State, Graham Massey.[10]

The 24hr Hack Camp had four hack challenges of which there were seven winning teams. Each challenge reflected the values and ideas spread by MTF; the 'Music Things for Music Ecosystems' and 'The Sound Objects in Smart Homes' challenge connected with ideas of collaboration and the Internet of Things, IoT. The Cymatics Challenge aimed to explore the relationships between sonic and visual art through this interdisciplinary medium. The final challenge from MTF Scandinavia was the 'Music as Communication' which focused on music tools that were communicative and accessible. Four winning teams used the #MusicBricks technologies which, led to the funding and incubation of their projects to develop them further.[11] Incubation was also awarded to the two winning hacks from the 'Music Things for Music Ecosystems' and 'Music as Communication' prizes from Umeå based incubators eXpression, and the final winning Cymatics team were awarded the materials to help with future endeavours.

The Volvo Kids Hack ran on Sunday morning 10:00-12:00, led by Siobhan Ramsey of Sandbox Education, with presentations on stage in the afternoon at 14:00. Young Hackers, aged between 8-12 used tools from Arduino and Bare Conductive to create interactive instruments and musical interfaces.[12]

MTF Scandinavia also included two new editions, a Jam Camp which lasted the duration of the festival and a Trackathon which ran for a week. The Jam Camp, led by Obi Blanche, was a space for people to try out music technology and play together.[13] This culminated in a Jam performance on stage on the final night of the festival. The trackathon was sponsored by Toontrack and was a competition to create a track using the Toontrack drum packages.[14] The two winners of the challenge, CJ Carr and Matan Berkowitz had their tracks mastered and released on Bandcamp by members of the judging panel including Vince Lynch, Pascal Guyon and Phonat (Michele Balduzzi).[15] All money raised went to a charity supporting artists suffering from depression.

MTF Scandinavia was held at Sliperiet - a co-creative space in Umeå Arts Campus where MTF is based, alongside many other creative enterprises.[16] Throughout the weekend, organisations from Sliperiet put on sound installations around the upper floors of the building. These included ‘The Voice Harvester’ by Swedish ICT Interactive,[17] ‘Audification of Absence’ by Willem Zwagers,[18] and ‘Bubble Room Instrument’, ‘Bridging Realities Collaborative’, ‘Untitled 5:22mins’ and ‘Silent Forest’ by JAQ. There were also two installations on the ground floor from outside of Sliperiet; James Brewster’s Electro Acoustic Cafe,[19] and ‘The Worlds Biggest Midi Controller’ by Hakan Lidbo.[20]

There was also a gamification workshop on Saturday, which led to the development of the CreaCity platform for the city of Umeå, Sweden. CreaCity was released as part of the European SPECIFI project to develop tools for engagement with city culture and local businesses.[21]

Sponsors and partners of MTF Scandinavia include; 4Sound, Bare Conductive, Beer Studio, Costas of Sweden, Electronic Sound, Drake Music, Guitars – the Museum, Hansson & Hammar, HUMlab Umeå, Kulturverket, Jays, Kitmonsters, Laser Unicorns, Musikanten, Sliperiet Umeå Universitet, Sonos, Soundation, SoundCloud, Spendrups, Swedbank, Teenage Engineering, Tiljan, Toontrack, U & Me Hotel, Umeå University, Umeå kommun, Umenet, Uminova Innovation, Uminova eXpression, Visit Umeå, Volvo, Warner Music Group, topi, YNK Produktion, Ninja Tune.[22]

Festival contributors[edit]

Contributors to the festival have included: IRCAM, The London Symphony Orchestra, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, The BBC, EMI, RCA Records, Shazam,, Ableton, Native Instruments, Izotope, FXpansion, RS Components, RjDj, WIRED, MTV, Microsoft Research, Cisco, Stephen Fry/Penguin, EU Commission, DMIC, British Council, Sound and Music, MTG, Fraunhofer Society, BCU, MIT Media Lab, Berklee College of Music, McGill, Goldsmiths, Royal College of Art, Ninja Tune, Warp, The Echo Nest, MusicBrainz, Reactable, Jamie Cullum, Tim Exile, Leafcutter John.[citation needed]

Media coverage[edit]

  • The Next Web on How the first Music Tech Fest explored the future of sound[23]
  • BBC Click has covered Music Tech Fest events in Boston[24] and London.[4]
  • Radio New Zealand National covered Music Tech Fest Wellington[25]
  • Boston Herald covered Music Tech Fest Boston[26]
  • France 24 reported on Music Tech Fest Paris[27]
  • Microsoft New England: Music Tech Fest Hits Cambridge This Weekend – Let's Invent the Future of Music[28]
  • Electronic Sound Magazine covered MTF Scandinavia[29]
  • Production Advice covered Music Tech Fest London 2014[30]
  • Sound Stuff covered Music Tech Fest London 2014[31]
  • Openstage covered Music Tech Fest London 2013[32]
  • Startsida covered Music Tech Fest Scandinavia[33]
  • The 405 covered an interview with Festival Director Andrew Dubber following Music Tech Fest London 2013[34]
  • Startacus covered MTF London[35]
  • Re-compose covered Music Tech Fest Scandinavia[36]
  • Sandbox Education covered Kids Hacks in London[37] and Umeå[37]
  • Umeå University covered Music Tech Fest Scandinavia[38]
  • DesignSpark, RS Components covered Music Tech Fest London 2014[39]
  • Protein covered Music Tech Fest Scandinavia[40]
  • Västerbottens-Kuriren published a TV interview with Festival Director Andrew Dubber in preparation for Music Tech Fest Scandinavia[41]
  • Creative Works London covered Music Tech Fest London 2014[42]
  • Perlimpinpin Designers covered Music Tech Fest London 2014[43]
  • Nialler9 covered Music Tech Fest London 2014[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Manifesto for the Future of Music Technology Research.
  2. ^ "MIReS - >>> the future of music tech".
  3. ^ "» The European project #MusicBricks will run a creative testbed pilot during the hacking session".
  4. ^ a b "BBC News - Hackathon brings new instruments and sounds to life". BBC News.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "MTF Splice Trackathon, by Music Tech Fest". Music Tech Fest. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  8. ^ "#MTFLabs". Music Tech Fest. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  9. ^ "Music Tech Fest from Paris to Sweden".
  10. ^ "Music Tech Fest Scandi Schedule".
  11. ^ "#MusicBricks: 8 new startup ideas with half a million social reach".
  12. ^ "Sandbox Education Youth Hack at the Music Tech Fest".
  13. ^ "Inventing the Future of Music".
  14. ^ "#MTFScandi Live Jam - MTF Allstars".
  15. ^ "Toontrack Trackathon Winners".
  16. ^ "Music Tech Fest Scandinavia at Sliperiet".
  17. ^ "Swedish ICT Interactive".
  18. ^ Willem Zwagers
  19. ^ "Electro Acoustic Cafe".
  20. ^ "Big Cubes".
  21. ^ "#MTFScandi: Alexandra Antonopoulou - Creative Ring Workshop".
  22. ^ "#MTFScandi".
  23. ^ Jamillah Knowles (20 May 2012). "A Round Up of the First Music Tech Fest in London". The Next Web.
  24. ^ "BBC News - Hacking the instrument of the future in Boston". BBC News.
  25. ^ "Music Tech Fest 2014". Radio New Zealand. 1 March 2014.
  26. ^ Jordan Graham. "Hub hosts fest on music tech".
  27. ^ "#TECH 24 - What does the future hold... for music? - France 24". France 24.
  28. ^ "Music Tech Fest Hits Cambridge This Weekend – Let's Invent the Future of Music".
  30. ^ "Music Tech Fest – 100% inspirational".
  31. ^ "Recommending the #mtflondon (Music Tech Fest) – with a music hack for 8-16 yo tomorrow (Old St)".
  32. ^ "Music Tech Fest".
  33. ^ "Music Tech Fest till Umeå i maj".
  34. ^ "The 405 meets Music Tech Fest's Andrew Dubber".
  35. ^ "Music Tech Fest".
  36. ^ "New formats take centre stage at Music Tech Fest Scandinavia".
  37. ^ a b "MTF London - Kids Hack Presentation".
  38. ^ "Music Tech Fest Scandinavia at Sliperiet".
  39. ^ "Music Tech Fest".
  40. ^ "Inventing the future of music".
  41. ^ "Music Tech Fest kommer till Umeå".
  42. ^ "MUSIC TECH FEST LONDON 2014 (5 – 7 SEPTEMBER 2014)".
  43. ^ "The Music Tech Festival in London".
  44. ^ "Music Tech Fest hits London next week".

External links[edit]