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 includes 22 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; 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.
We launched the first ever Music Tech Fest in London in May 2012 as 'the festival of music ideas’. The task was to pull the music technology ecosystem under one roof, including major players like Shazam, Soundcloud, Spotify, Last.fm, EMI Music and the BBC, innovative labels like Warp, Ninja Tune and PIAS, tech media like WIRED, great performers like Carles Lopez on the Reactable and Jason Singh the Beatboxer, with a whole bunch of innovative startups, hackers and researchers, including our entire MIReS project research community. See the full lineup on the Music Tech fest website.
Our teams built all of the assets for the festival including the website which allows you to jam with the colours, the Synaesthesia app which allows you to turn colour into sound, colourful t-shirts which allow you to attach sounds to them using the app, the full branding, signage, flyers, stickers, posters, awards, banners, web ads, PR ads, letterheads, programme, promo videos, Twitter and FB channels. We are now building the Music Tech Talks community on the Music Tech Fest channel.
“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! well done.”
Matt Black, Coldcut and 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. I'm grateful to you for inviting me!”
Jamillah Knowles, BBC Outriders
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.
CUE 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, EMI, 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
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.
MIReS (mires.cc) is an EU-funded project focusing on the future impact of music technology research on academia and industry. The project has been enabled by an EU FP7 award by the EU Commission following a proposal by Stromatolite. The team has been assembled from some of the most prominent figures in this field from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, the Austrian Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Vienna, 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, the Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores in Porto and the Barcelona Music and Audio Technologies. Advisors include Last.fm, SoundOut and the BBC.
As Scientific Director of the project, Stromatolite has been 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.
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.