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Hacking Music

Washington, D.C. Tech

Tech may be missing a huge disruption opportunity—music. TanZ Group co-founder and DC Entrepreneurship Week co-creator Jon Leonardo (left) is organizing "rockathons"—music industry oriented hackathons—to develop new ways for musicians to create and present their music while connecting with fans. The first Rockathon was last month at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Over 22 entrepreneurs worked in teams with mentors, resulting in five ideas that were presented to judges, including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame president Greg Harris. The winner was DataBot’s Autoband program, which lets users create custom performances by their favorite bands. The winner received six months of mentorship and free office space at the Cleveland-based Accelerator Launch House, as well as a chance to compete for a $20k grant.


The other Rockathon concepts included Pre-Tracked, which allows artists to leak music tracks to fans. Another created a way to play guitar, drums, and bass on a computer. Jon, who’s replicated DC Entrepreneurship Week in other US cities, says he doesn’t have a DC music hackathon planned yet, but the city has an appetite for it. (You don't need to be a music-focused city like Nashville to be considered.) Jon is also working on other events that connect artists with their audiences through his new company, TanZ. Some of the group’s upcoming events are an electronic and live symphony performance in Miami and a music and tech festival in LA.