This weekend, nearly 400 musicians from 64 countries signed up to participate in a 48-hour international music production competition called Mixathon48, operated by Engineering graduate student Nicholas Yiu.
Musicians were given three short music files and had 48 hours to submit an original mixed tape that incorporated these stems. Musicians participated from anywhere in the world and submitted their finished products online.
The competition began at 3 p.m. Friday. At the start of the contest, so many participants attempted to download the stems that the Mixathon48 Google server crashed. The team quickly uploaded the stems to Dropbox and Mediafire in order to spread out the traffic.
“I think it is a really interesting indication of how many people are interested in this sort of event,” Yiu said.
Yiu and his then-classmate Matt Hong at the University of California, Berkeley started Mixathon48. Recognizing a lack of opportunities for amateur musicians to create and share their work, Hong and Yiu sought to apply the creative spirit of hackathons to music production.
“I wondered ‘Why can’t we use this innovation model in the arts and music scene?’” Yiu said.
Last June, they partnered with music software companies Ableton and Imageline, as well as the popular music blog "Your EDM" to organize the first 48-hour music production marathon.
Now at Penn, Yiu has continued to build Mixathon48. He leads a team of Penn and U.C. Berkeley students that assist with operations, marketing and business partnerships.
“I’ve always been a huge lover of music,” said College sophomore Emily Zhen, who is the director of operations for Mixathon48. “That’s what drew me to it — a way to spread my love for music.”
Mixathon48 held its first competition last September, when participating musicians submitted 35 tapes for judging. This time, the team received 58 submissions.
“I’m really excited to see what people from all over the world come up with,” Zhen said.
Engineering sophomore Jerry Chang, who has participated in other remix contests, submitted a track to Mixathon48. Unlike other competitions he has entered in which he had a month to remix a popular song, Mixathon48 was different, giving him just a short timeframe to remix a tape he had never heard before.
“I liked having to produce under pressure,” Chang said. “It was thrilling.”
Josh Champney, a junior at Keene High School in New Hampshire, recently became interested in remix competitions and submitted a tape to Mixathon48.
“I got no sleep out of it,” he said. “But it was a pretty fun experience. I’d definitely do it again.”
The team will then judge each submission over the next two weeks. Winning prizes included an artist profile on the blog "Your EDM," new music production software, headphones and cash prizes.
Going forward, the Mixathon48 team plans to hold more international competitions and offer online tutorials and mentorships, in-person competitions and even a summer camp for aspiring musicians.
“I would love to continue creating new types of music education,” Yiu said. “I want to be able to tailor to the needs of music producers around the world.”
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