Stromatolite was founded in Shoreditch, London, in 2000, by Royal College of Art graduates Michela Magas and Peter Russell-Clarke. For over 10 years Stromatolite has developed design innovation concepts for a series of international clients including Apple, Nike and Nokia, as well as educational methodologies for the Royal College of Art Design Products, Goldsmiths MA Design Critical Practice, and a series of international creative workshops. While Peter is now part of the Apple Industrial Design Team, Michela has continued to build teams focusing on taking innovation to industry in the areas of visual communication, system design, music tech and Open Product concepts. The team now comprises an extended network of collaborators from different fields.
Stromatolite has been awarded the UK Technology Strategy Board: Collaboration in Digital Industries; the EU FP7 award for MIReS: the future of music tech; the UK Technology Strategy Board award for Open Product Licenses; the EU FP7 award for ICT&ART; and the 'art meets science' NEMart award for Songlines (Barcelona 2010) and Synaesthesia (Istanbul 2012). Stromatolite was selected for the “Make It in Great Britain” exhibition at the Science Museum, showcasing the best of British manufacturing and innovation during the London Olympics.
In 2012 Stromatolite launched two spin-offs: Sonaris Systems, an innovative music technology company, and Music Tech Fest, the global festival of music ideas.
We launched Music Tech Fest in London in 2012 as 'the festival of music ideas’, by pulling the entire music technology ecosystem under one roof. The festival united major players like Soundcloud, Spotify, Shazam, EMI Music and the BBC, innovative labels like Ninja Tune and Warp, tech media like WIRED, great performers and a whole bunch of innovative startups, hackers and researchers.
In 2013 we set out to make music with anything. Jamie Cullum improvised for the first time on the new Seaboard, Sony/RCA gave our hackers 330GB of original audio stems to play with, Mike Skinner uploaded his stems and Jacob Banks recorded his soulful voice for the hackers to use. Matt Black jammed on the Ninja Jamm app and Steven Hill launched the Warp Incubator for new artists.
In 2014 we were asked to take the fest to the global stage, starting with Wellington, Boston, Berlin, Paris and New York. Our flagship event in London is now part of the official autumn season of the Barbican LSO St Lukes in partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra. In 2015 the festival reaches Scandinavia at the brilliant Umeå campus, with the addition of São Paulo, Los Angeles and Amsterdam.
“Music Tech Fest was one of those incredible events we won't forget soon, a heavyweight gathering of the sound tribe”. Patrick Bergel, Animal Systems “that was fab!” Matt Black, Coldcut+Ninja Tune “I heard nothing but glowing reports”. Denzyl Fiegelson, iTunes Music Synergist “It's a privilege to see such amazing new experiments in sound”. Jamillah Knowles, BBC Outriders
Suppported by Stromatolite and the ICT&ART project, the Ministry of Measurement was a performance installation by art collective thickear that took place in the Barbican Centre from the 7th to the 18th of August 2013. The work transformed the Barbican's giant cloakroom area into a sinister bureaucratic data collection centre where members of the public were coerced into collecting bizarre measurement data, fed into the eleven enormous databanks, printed and hung up as lengthy data sheets.
A study of the subjectivity of data readings, the intricacies of measurement and our inherent suspicions about data exchange, the Ministry of Measurement was also a homage to much classic Sci-Fi and dystopian film and literature, visual echoes of which are evident within the Barbican's architecture and interior design. With deft use of sound, visual cues, performance and a keen eye for the Barbican's brutalist aesthetic, it presented an engaging, ominous, Kubrickesque experience.
'our highlight from this afternoon was the strange, cinematic Ministry of Measurement installation by sound art collective thickear.
The group has taken over the Barbican's lower level cloakroom, creating an interactive piece/performance that examines the subjectivity of measurement and data processing.
It's odd, it's cinematic and it's charmingly engaging'.
Emily Gosling, Design Week
A Stromatolite collaboration with Andrew Dubber and Blue Hippo Media, Occupy Music is a feature-length documentary about Fora do Eixo - a revolutionary Brazilian independent music movement born out of a network of performing music collectives.
Resisting the traditional infrastructure of the mainstream entertainment industries, the network rejects the star system and works on the basis of collaboration rather than competition, with its own currency and its own university. It is to the mainstream music industry what the Occupy movement is to Wall Street.
Occupy Music is set to be a documentary featuring a range of music by some of Brazil's most exciting artists and performers. It aims to take the viewer on a tour of Brazil from the rainforests to the beaches, from enormous cities to rural towns, from backroom bar gigs to large rock festivals. It explores a very Brazilian idea that looks set to fundamentally challenge the global music industry orthodoxy.
An EU FP7-funded project, ICT&ART brings together artists and scientific researchers in an exploration of new cross-disciplinary practices. Collaborative acts of co-creation, together with an open and multidisciplinary discussion enabled via a series of initiatives, foster the bringing together of art, science and technology.
The project has enabled support and collaboration for the Ministry of Measurement installation at the Barbican in August 2013, and the ART+TECH HACK as part of the NEM Summit in Nantes in October 2013. Stromatolite supported 5 out of 19 collaborative projects, including the thickear art collective collaboration with Ulrich Atz from the Open Data Institute, colaborations between musicians, designers, educators, sound designers, creative developers, and even a 15-year-old programmer from the Young Rewired State.
Songlines unites distant cultures through music. It draws a web of relationships based on audio similarities found between recordings made all over the world. The variety of different relationships results in unique musical paths and distinctive visual patterns each time a query is triggered. Songlines uses our Sonaris technology, which allows users to search for music using sound samples. The technology analyses a sound clip and matches it to similar sounds from other tracks.
The first version of Songlines was built with the Alan Lomax collection of field recordings and received the NEMart award in Barcelona in 2010. A new version was built for the “Make It in Great Britain” exhibition at the Science Museum during the London 2012 Olympics, in conjunction with Peter Gabriel's Real World Records. The aim was to help audiences discover relationships between music by Real World artists from all corners of the globe.
CueSongs is a new quick way of finding and licensing music for use in digital media, backed by Peter Gabriel. It has gathered all of the big music publishers, including Sony, Warners and Universal in the quest of opening up large portions of their music libraries - mainly back catalogues and up-and-coming artists - for off-the-shelf music licensing. We built the brand, designed the system and implemented the supporting tech. Peter wrote: "The logo is brilliant - I love it and I'm really picky"
"By introducing low prices and easy online access, Cuesongs is creating a new market for music, to satisfy a huge untapped demand that can begin to provide new income streams for artists." Peter Gabriel on the BBC
"Nasa’s head of media has called to say the site has eased his licensing nightmare, and beta testing has yielded other whispers of support." The Huffington Post
Check out the CUE BETA. CueSongs Pro, available to subscribers, is powered by our Sonaris music search technology.
If Shazam provides the answer to "I like it - what is it?", we provide the answer to "I like it - is there anything else like it?".
Sonaris analyses an audio stream in real time, and matches it to similar sounds from other tracks. Sonaris helps discovery of new artists regardless of their name or provenance, compilations of well-mixed playlists, and fast licensing of just the right music for film and advertising productions.
Sonaris was co-authored by Michela Magas and Cyril Laurier, aided by an award to Stromatolite from the UK Technology Strategy Board. It builds upon two sets of PhD research which became more than the sum of their parts. The first version of Sonaris enabled discovery of music from the AWAL - Artists Without A Label - an independent collection which includes artists like Moby and Thom Yorke. The Sonaris technology was used to power the Songlines exhibit at the "Make It in Great Britain" exhibition at the Science Museum during the London Olympics.
Incorporated as a spinoff of Stromatolite in 2012, Sonaris is currently powering the innovative CueSongs Pro licensing engine, backed by Peter Gabriel.
MIReS (mires.cc) was an EU-funded project focusing on the future impact of music technology research on academia and industry. The project was enabled by an EU FP7 award by the EU Commission following a proposal by Stromatolite. The team was assembled from some of the most prominent figures in this field from the Music Technology Group at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, IRCAM - the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary, University of London, OFAI - the Austrian Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Vienna, INESC - the Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores in Porto, and BMAT - the Barcelona Music and Audio Technologies. Advisors included Last.fm, SoundOut and the BBC.
As Scientific Director of the project, Stromatolite was responsible for paving the way for a pan-European research-to-industry network. The MIReS funding has been instrumental in the establishment of the Music Tech Fest.
Follow the music information research community @music_ir
OPEN PRODUCT LICENSES
Existing patenting laws have been developed for the protection of industrial tools which generate mass-produced clones. This system is becoming increasingly inadequate for the needs of designers and makers of rapid-prototyped, digitized and traceable tangible products. Within this new three-dimensional landscape of networked and co-created products only certain elements can be registered under existing licenses. The software components can be registered as Open Source for example, while digital on-screen artwork can be assigned one of the Creative Commons attribution licences. Tangible networked products however cannot be registered under any of the existing licensing systems.
The Open Product Licences came from a need to enable product designers to register their tangible innovations and assign an attribution license for others to
build upon their work in an accountable way. Inspired by the Open Source and Creative Commons models, Open Product received approval from CERN to take their licensing model and develop it further in line with ideas of 'design by attribution'. One of the main goals of the project is therefore to set the standards for registration and attribution of products, and provide a platform for a community of product designers, developers, makers and thinkers to share ideas and collaborate on new products, regardless of background or provenance.