Feature: Sonar 2017 Review

On June 14 I flew from Ibiza to the sweltering heat of Barcelona for Sonar Festival. For me it was my fifth trip to the city to check out one of the world’s leading electronic music events.

Sonar 2017 offered 140 musical performances across 9 stages, 5 at Sonar by Day, 4 at sonar by night. And has present 157 activities and projects at Sonar+D. With more than 400 speakers and exhibitors. The festival has gathered 61,000 at Sonar by Day. 62,000 visited Sonar by Night.

We landed on an early flight and I made my way to Sonar by day straight away. It was incredibly well organised. My accreditation took a matter of minutes. Within twenty minutes of arriving I was at my first panel.

First on the agenda was to check the Open Music Initiative, a collaborative international endeavor to find an open-source standard for music metadata, allowing for the fair distribution of music royalties and licence fees to artists and publishers. Richie Hawtin and Resonate founder Peter Harris were among the speakers. We Are Europe hosted a series of informal Q&A’s with people like Dimitri Hegemann (founder of Tresor Berlin) and digital strategist Bas Grasmayer.

From there I explored Sonar+D where creativity and technological advancement meet. Experts from around the world including entrepreneurs, artists, technicians and researchers present initiatives and tools that will shape creative experiences in the fields of music, visuals and interactive content.

One facet of Sonar+D I absolutely love is Market Lab, it’s a great place to get lost for few hours. Market Lab is a space for creators of the years most innovating technologies. Attendees have the opportunity to explore the latest products from PLAYdifferently (Model1), Electron, Novation and Plankton Electronics who just rolled out their latest synthesiser, Ants. Ants is a Eurorack-compatible table-top semi-modular analog synthesizer.

A popular theme this year was Artificial Intelligence and its possible role in future creativity. Another theme for me was immersive audio visual experience from interactive laser and lighting rigs to binaural sound systems.

Sonar360º is a brand new dome space dedicated to fulldome audiovisual work. An immersive experience in where the audience is completely surrounded by 360º image and sound; curated by Montreal’s Society for Arts and Technology. This was really one of the most impressive installations I have seen in sometime.

I got my first taste of virtual reality at the Sonar+D Realities area, which featured a selection of this years cutting edge audiovisual content and technological platforms. You could travel through the universe or witness the evolution of life on earth first hand. Virtual reality is still relatively in its infancy but the dawn of the virtual age is definitely upon us.

24th edition of Sonar came to a close with a record attendance of 123,000 visitors, the highest attendance in the festival’s history. Sonar+D brought together audiences from 105 countries with participants of around 5,500 professionals from 57 countries and more than 2000 companies from the creative and technological industries.

Sonar by night featured performances by Carl Craig, Seth Troxler, Marcel Dettmann, Marco Carola and Fat Freddy’s Drop. Richie Hawtin hosted an official Sonar pop-up party at a skate park with Fabio Florido and Gaiser.

The 25th anniversary of Sonar will be held on June 13-16 2018, tickets are already on sale at http://www.sonar.es. The next Sonar events worldwide will take place in Reykjavik, Buenos Aires, Bogota, Hong Kong, Istanbul.

In short, Sonar is a must for anyone with a passion for electronic music and the technologies that drive it. Always an inspiring trip. Until next year.

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