Legendary Guitarist Launches First Artist-Focused Hackathon

By Kristin Houser, iQ Contributor @LAMusicBlog March 18, 2014

At this year’s Austin, Texas annual South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival, festival goers might have had a hard time finding their friends in the jam-packed, bustling city, but one of the festival’s attendees stood out in the crowd: iconic rock guitarist Slash.

With his black top hat, long locks, and signature shades, Slash boasts a unique look, but his penchant for living outside the norm doesn’t stop there. He’s also a notorious boundary pusher with regards to technology, and during SXSW 2014’s music week, the former Guns‘N Roses axeman launched his latest tech endeavor: Slashathon, the first-ever artist-focused hackathon.

Powered by Geeklist, teams of technology developers convened on Austin’s Capitol Factory on March 12th to participate in this unique event during which they had seven hours to create new and interesting apps for music promotion with the goal of helping artists engage their communities for album releases. The teams then gave full demo presentations of their hacks to the Slashathon judging panel, which included Slash himself, Bitorrent’s Chief Scientist & Founder Bram Cohen, and Rackspace’s Startup Liaison Officer Robert Scoble.

So why would these developers put themselves through the stress of a hackathon (besides the opportunity to potentially snag a photo with the rock god himself)? For prizes, of course!

The grand prize winner of the Slashathon won a Gibson guitar autographed by Slash, plus $1,000, an iPad Mini, and Muzik smart headphones. They also earned themselves the opportunity to have Slash use their hack with the release of his new album with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, which is due for a Fall 2014 release.

The winners of the 2014 Slashathon each addressed a unique aspect of album promotion, from the creation of music videos to the live performance of new songs to the sharing of album tracks themselves:

1st Place Prize: Slash TV
Created by John Stanhope, Simon Solotko and Christian Primozich, this app allows any user in any place to quickly create a rock video for a new album using their mobile phone. In just 30 seconds, fans can record their own rock video using digital assets.

2nd Place Prize: Pretune
This app allows fans to progressively unlock songs on an artist’s new album through social media, with tracks being revealed bit by bit as more fans sign onto the artist’s social media pages.

3rd Place Prize: Crowdroar
Through the Crowdroar app, artists can receive real-time feedback from the stage on how fans in the crowd are reacting to never-before-performed songs via a loudness meter that appears in a Google Glass display.

Although Slash has explored the intersection of music and technology previously through Slash360 — an app that allowed fans to relive the recording of Slash’s 2012 album “Apocalyptic Love” via six 360-degree spherical, panoramic cameras mounted in his studio — and Slash AmpliTube — a desktop app and plug-in that provides musicians with a suite of the guitar effects, amplifiers, and speaker cabinets that Slash uses on tour and in the studio— the Slashathon marks the first time he’s given fans the opportunity to influence his next tech move.

While we’ll have to wait until the fall to find out if Slash TV is indeed used in the promotion of the guitarist’s new album, according to Slash himself this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Slashathon: “Thank you to all the developers who put forth their best efforts in record time for the 1st ever Slashathon,” he said post-event. “It was all brilliant. I’m looking forward to doing this event every year.”

As the Co-Founder and Lead Writer/Editor for LA Music Blog, a Los Angeles-based music news and review website, Kristin Houser’s life revolves around music and technology. She has been an avid fan of music ever since discovering her parents’ vinyl collection while still in elementary school, and she is fascinated by all the ways technology allows her to discover new music and share it with the world. She currently manages a staff of fifteen writers and contributors at LA Music Blog, and when she isn’t scouring the internet for her latest musical obsession, Kristin frequents Los Angeles’ many music venues where she can usually be found hovering near the front of house engineer while jotting down set lists in her smart phone. She is very pleased to share her latest music obsessions and all the ways technology allows her to discover and enjoy music with iQ by Intel’s audience.