About the Maker Music Festival

The Maker Music Festival celebrates the makers of innovative, experimental and just plain unusual musical instruments.

In 2018 the first Maker Music Festival took place in Sebastopol, California. It showcased the projects and talents of a select group of music makers from the San Francisco Bay area. The event had exhibit booths, live performances, demonstrations and hands-on activities. It was produced as a fundraiser for our local maker space, Chimera Arts.

It was a wonderful event and we looked forward to doing it again -- but on a larger scale.

Of course, the pandemic happened and many people in the events business looked to alternatives to physical events. The creators of the festival found themselves immersed in this world.

Joe Szuecs, software developer, maker and musician, built the frameworks for a couple of virtual experiences. Decameron Row is a collection of videos created by noted artists, writers, musicians, and dancers. The videos are presented as views into apartments in a row of buildings. The design represents the confinement to home that we are all experiencing now. Modulation, part of the Prototype festival is a virtual opera festival.

Sherry Huss, co-founder of Maker Faire, is working with Freeman Events to help them map the future of the event business.

Taking what they’ve learned in the past year, they decided to produce a virtual version of the Maker Music Festival. Expanding on the Decameron Row experience, Joe has created a campus of buildings that house the work of makers from around the world. The goal is to emulate the live experience as closely as possible.

What is a music maker? Needless to say, there are many types of projects that fit into the mold. The fundamental music maker has crafted their own unique musical instrument. It may be made from traditional materials, scrap materials, modified electronics, altered playback devices, electromechanics, or an AI driven robot. The works also include non-physical works like algorithmic music and interactive applications.

On May 20th and 21st, the festival will introduce the 2023 exhibits, expanding the virtual campus to more than 450 projects in 35 buildings. These DIY music and instrument makers will join our existing group of projects. For a visitor to the site, the experience is akin to a real world ‘open studios’ tour. They can navigate from building to building and ‘visit’ the inhabitants therein. Each maker has provided video, images and text that describes themselves and their work. There are also links to social media, additional videos and maker websites. Visitors can also ‘tip’ a maker via the maker’s chosen payment method.

The campus of buildings metaphor has allowed collectives and other groups to ‘own’ their own buildings. Groups such as Center for New Music (San Francisco), DorkBot (San Francisco Bay Area), MakeMe (France), UMass Lowell (Lowell, MA) among others will occupy entire buildings. Buildings occupied by a collective display a custom flag denoting the building of the collective.

New for 2023! Online Classroom Tools and Fields Trips for Music Educators

The Maker Music Festival [and Campus] has collaborated with the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA to focus on music education in the K-12 classroom, and have created a series of “Field Trips”. All designed to support music educators as they engage their students in the process of music making.

After opening weekend, the website will continue to collect projects from makers around the world. It will serve as a hub for this community. As the site grows, there will be continuing live events and other activities.

Our heartfelt thanks goes out to the global maker community and to our "Friends of Maker Music Festival" who have supported and encouraged us to make this a reality. And we did it, together! It was a dream that was shared with the Maker community on February 7th, 2021 and 100 days later, as a community, we made this happen. We will properly thank you (and name you) in the future, but for now, it's time to celebrate the Music Makers! Enjoy #MMF23!