£700 commission opportunity for disabled musicians and technologists

DMLab North West Challenge

Calling all disabled musicians, sound artists, vocalists, bedroom producers and bands… join us to find out more about the latest developments in accessible music technology and how you can be part of creating a brand new piece of kit.


In Feb 2017 Drake Music is launching a supported period of collaboration and development between disabled musicians* and hackers/technologists based in the North West.

At the heart of this venture will be a special ‘innovation challenge’.

We will be holding two informal events for disabled musicians and technologists to connect, find out more, share work and ultimately collaborate. (Details below.)

We are inviting joint proposals outlining an idea for a brand new musical instrument, tool or innovative piece of music.

Sound interesting? There’s £700 up for grabs for you to come up with, and build, your dream piece of kit.


*Please note: we use the term ‘musician’ in the widest possible sense and mean therefore this opportunity is open to disabled musicians, performers or artists who use music or sound within their work.

DMLab Challenge

Get Involved

An informal get-together for disabled musicians and hackers/coders/makers. The innovation challenge will be presented in more detail and we’ll spend some time together sharing ideas and experiences.

We’ll have a jam using assistive music technology and traditional musical instruments. This is a chance for people to get to know each other, and explore the possibility of working together. The event will be facilitated by Drake Music musician-technologists Caro Churchill and Rachael Moat,

(We have an access budget, so please feel free to discuss your requirements.)

Following a similar friendly & informal format as the first event, this will be an opportunity to consolidate partnerships and proposals.

If you decide to go for one of the commissions then here is what you need to know…

The Brief

The brief is to make a prototype musical instrument, tool or piece of music that is designed to be used, or played by, a disabled musician.

When creating your proposal consider the specific access requirements that your development is designed to overcome. If selected, you will be required to present a proof of concept at the launch event in April 2017.

Your proposal can be submitted in whatever format is accessible to you e.g. text document, video, audio file.

Drake Music will then select four winning proposals.

Each of the four teams will get:

  • a commission of £700 (£500 + £200 access budget) to work collaboratively on a new piece of music tech
  • 3 remote half-hour mentoring sessions from acclaimed disabled musician-technologist Kris Halpin
  • The opportunity to present their concept at a public launch event in Manchester in April 2017
  • The chance to perform in a final showcase event in front of an audience in Manchester in May 2017

What might you make? See some examples from our first DMLab Challenge event in London  here.

DMLab Challenge

Deadline for proposals

The challenge opens on Monday 2nd Jan 2017 and closes on Sunday 19th March at midnight.

Entrants can enter at any point between these dates. We will inform the winning teams by email on Monday 27th March 2017.

Launch & Showcase Events

Public launch event at IABF hosted by disabled artist-technologist Kris Halpin. Kris will introduce the four DM Developments (winning commissions) in front of an audience.

He will also present a case study and performance using Mi.Mu gloves – an innovative accessible musical instrument that uses advanced motion-tracking electronics built into a pair of gloves. Using the gloves Kris can ‘virtually’ pluck guitar strings, hit drums and create amazing music.

Public showcase event at IABF hosted by Kris Halpin. The four commissioned teams will showcase their brand new DM Developments in front of an audience.

The teams and Kris Halpin will take questions on their technology, practice and experience. We will celebrate the work that the teams have undertaken and consult with our newly-formed community on how the project might develop in the future.


#DMLabChallenge is supported by the Foyle Foundation.

Full Terms & Conditions are in an additional document.

Please note: Drake Music cannot supply PA support for personal care needs but there is a small budget for more general access support. Please contact: abigailward@drakemusic org to discuss this in more detail.

Submissions and any questions should be emailed to abigailward@drakemusic.org