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Digital Savant

Posted: 4:47 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Three Austinites walk away with SXSW Music Hackathon grand prize 

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Team Moot
Contributed by AT&T
Ricky Thomas, Phillip Jacobs and Andrew Hulsizer, the members of Team Moot, won for an app that allows users to put music loops over songs from the Beats Music Service at a SXSW Music Hackathon on March 12-13. They won $10,000 for their effort.

By Omar L. Gallaga

It's probably appropriate that the winners of the first South by Southwest Music Hackathon are a trio of Austinites.

The hackathon, which was held on March 12th-13th as the Interactive Festival was transitioning into SXSW Music, was a free event hosted by AT&T U-verse aimed at generating music-related apps created over a 24-hour period.

The team that won the event, "Moot," built a tool that allows users to loop music with existing tracks from the Beats Music service. The members of the team, Ricky Thomas, Phillip Jacobs and Andrew Hulsizer, won $10,000 for their effort. 

Jacobs, who works with Thomas at an Austin online food network startup called Tastemade, said they had a few ideas going into the hackathon, but had to find out the parameters and rules first. They were given Beats Music as an API to work with and got to work. 

"It was cool that they were there and giving access to their data," Jacobs said. "The challenge was to incorporate them into the idea we decided to go with." 

Jacobs and Thomas say they're big music fans and their partner Hulsizer is an expert iOS developer with a knack for user-experience design. What they came up with in about 14-15 hours of work (the 31 teams each took about six hours to sleep and spent the first few hours sitting through an opening presentation) was a tool that takes the first four bars of songs off Beats Music and allows the user to create music loops out of it. They say they'd like to continue working on the app to make it more fully featured and release it to the public.

"There's really no cost to it," Jacobs said. "We all do this for work. We'll put in extra time on nights and weekends."

They already created a coming-soon website at

Others winners out of the 31 projects included an augmented reality app called "AR Pop" that won $2,500 and a third-place app called "Crowd Scaler" that sychronizes sounds, colors and graphics on the mobile devices of audience members at live performances.

Omar L. Gallaga

About Omar L. Gallaga

Omar L. Gallaga writes about technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman. He was a technology correspondent for NPR's "All Things Considered," helping originate the All Tech Considered segment and blog.

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