Music Hack Day is a weekend celebration of music and technology. Hackers from across the land gather in one spot for 36 hours to organize, come up with an idea for a hack, design it, implement it, present it, and maybe walk away with a fabulous prize or several. Participation in the event is free; food and entertainment is provided by sponsors. The first Music Hack Day took in July of 2009 and was founded by Dave Haynes, a VP at SoundCloud, who remains involved with the event. There have been nearly 20 Hack Days in the Boston, New York, San Francisco, Barcelona, Cannes, Montreal, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Berlin.
The basic schedule for a Music Hack Day, at least for the participant, is a whole lot packed into one weekend. I imagine the organizers have weeks of preparation to do. Months before the event, word gets out, sponsors and hackers signed up, locations reserved, and a schedule drawn up. Then, some fine Saturday morning, hackers arrive en masse. After a presentation with some basic instructions (Where are the bathrooms? What's the wireless password?) the assembly takes to Twitter and IRC to organize while various numerous projects present their public APIs or web services or whatnot. Some of these are sponsors, and some of them offer prizes to users of their APIs. Then, anyone looking for engineering assistance does a quick presentation, hoping to inspire other hackers into following their lead.
Lunch is then served, and hacking begins! API vendors may give in-depth presentations, but since there are only 24 hours to get your spot in the final demo presentation, you better move! Hack, hack, and hack some more! The 2011 Boston Hack Day had people show up with drills and soldering irons and sacrificial WiiMotes, along with the more usual web-based projects. After dinner, you may go to a second location to continue hacking, with entertainment and beer and no goddamn sleep! REMEMBER, YOU HAVE A DEADLINE!
As people scramble to complete their projects by Sunday afternoon, they reserve spots in the line for the final presentation. This is the part where the general public and the press arrive. You have two minutes to set up your demo and give your presentation. No time for questions! Just get moving! After the demos, those who have offered prizes will announce the winners, then it's off for more beer. The next day, you check the tech blogs to see if anybody noticed you.