STHLM Music Tech Conference and Future Echoes 2024, Norrköping Sweden

Photo by: Michael Cropley

In the heart of Adelaide’s music scene, where curiosity meets creativity, Monthly Music Meets has become a hub for networking and discovery. It was at one of these gatherings that Michael Cropley’s interest in music and AI caught our attention, sparking a journey that took him from Adelaide to the STHLM Music Tech Conference and Future Echoes 2024 in Sweden. His experience not only showcased Adelaide’s musical engagement in new technologies but also piqued the interest of international tech leaders who are now exploring collaborations in the City of Music. We invited Michael to share his story.

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Words by Michael Cropley

Held over 3 wonderful days in Norrköping, Sweden, a beautiful town situated a few hours from Stockholm, STHLM and Future Echoes 2024 brought together artists, creators, and tech geniuses from around the world. I had the opportunity to participate in the events, starting with the STHLM music tech conference.

On Thursday 21st of March, I arrived at the Arbetets Museum, or in English the Museum of Work, where I was warmly welcomed by Sandra Wall (Norrkoping UNESCO City of Music Focal Point) and Sara Herrlin (Co-Founder, STHLM Music Tech Conference) both of whom worked hard to make sure I was comfortable and enjoyed my experience. The morning/afternoon was spent listening to several presentations and panels entirely focused on the future of the music tech industry.

Several tech industry creators spent time explaining their products and visions for a plethora of different applications, however, the constant relating factor was twofold. First was the emphasis on ease of use, creating products that allow anyone to achieve no matter their entry point. Second was the use of AI. All the presentations were outstanding, and I’ve tried to encapsulate their message as best I can below.

First was Tomlin Studio, this duo creates modified versions of the world-famous game Fortnite. Using tools created by the game’s developers, Tomas and Linda make custom game servers with in-depth music synthesis. As a demo, Tomas and Linda were able to play on one of these servers, taking time to use an in-game turntable and other connected electronics to produce music.

Next up were several panels, the focus of which was the communication between music and tech communities about the use of AI and how important it is for the industry. The consensus was how critical it is to start communication between musicians and techies early and how a good connection between the two will help the industry to survive. The discussion on AI was tech-heavy for most of the event, though the same opinion was echoed by all artists, techies, and attendees, AI is a tool, it’s here to stay, and people need to learn how to use it rather than fear it. For each job in the music industry AI “takes”, it makes a new one in tech.

The next stand-out presenter was Sean Bradford, a multidisciplinary artist and creative tech founder, currently building Origin Stories, a tech studio based in Amsterdam and Stockholm. His focus for the day was on a custom generation tool for what he describes as a Co-created visual experience. This tool is used to create fast, consistent high-quality music/mood visuals and storyboards. Sean also shared his history in the industry, having been featured in the NY Times twice, building tens of millions of Spotify streams, and even performing on Broadway in The Lion King. With a list that seems to go on forever, Sean was an inspiring presence with a deep knowledge of both Music and Tech, and is destined to be something even bigger.

Mikko Haapala took some time to explain Gixon. An app that will seemingly be vital for any artist looking to break into the world of music. So much can be ordered and delivered on your phone, so why not music too? This app aims to connect artists with music lovers, creating a considerably easier experience for both. Sign yourself up to an artist’s database and through the app can find venues to perform at, such a simple yet ingenious idea, that Mikko made a point of saying he was surprised it hadn’t been done yet. This is something to keep an eye on. If Sweden hasn’t already proven its dominance in the music tech space this one will surely solidify it.

Finally, we had Johan Jansson explain his important work with the venue Musikens Hus (Music House). Johan worked as one of the members of the Musikens Hus alongside Joakim Leion whom I was lucky enough to meet at the venue during the weekend. Johan works as a software developer and hobby musician heavily involved in the music community. He explained the Musikens Hus is a venue like no other, situated in a beautiful open courtyard, musicians play out of the second-story windows serenading the streets. Outside of playing the music themselves (which they occasionally do) the team at Musikens Hus does everything to plan and produce the events. I had the chance to go into the house during a performance and see the belly of the beast. The house has everything an artist needs, besides a bed.

After the conference, attendees were treated to a performance by the Swedish-American Alt-Pop duo 7000apart who had participated on the panels throughout the day. The closing event provided the perfect space for everyone to get together and fully digest everything they had seen at the conference. I was able to introduce myself to many of the people there and make lifelong connections with some incredible people in this industry.

It was such a well-run and welcoming environment and I was able to spend a considerable amount of time with most of the people presenting as well as many of the performers during Future Echoes, sneaking into a few artists-only events and finishing my time in the city at a recording studio with a large amount of the artist from the event jamming with them. The Future Echoes event held many panels and presentations revolving around this central theme of AI. I was lucky enough to engage in multiple workshops meant for artists, helping to teach, grow, and support compassionate leadership in the music industry. I was touched by how welcoming everyone was and loved each moment.

About Michael

Michael is a 25-year-old Student from Adelaide currently complete two degrees, one in mechanical engineering and the other a Bachelor of Science majoring in Physics, and a lifelong love of music and performing.  Michael is currently on a 6-month exchange in Sweden through his Bachelor of Science. Michael is completing a range of courses revolving around environmental science and philosophy. Understanding that the ever-growing threat of climate change is an unavoidable truth that needs to be understood and studied, Michael chose to study this field in Stockholm which is recognised as one of the leading environmental science departments in the world. Michael’s background in music and AI drew him to the conference where he was able to see the intersection of ideas, creativity, and technology being brought to life.  “It was truly amazing to see the combination of two worlds and to be able to participate in an environment where my unique insight was appreciated and welcomed”.

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