If you’ve heard the rumor mill, then you might know that the strangely-named organization called Moogfest is reportedly considering a move from Asheville to Durham for its biennial electronic music and technology festival.
January 22, 2015
Moogfest in Durham? What (or Who) the Heck is Moog?
A Moog history lesson in light of rumors that Asheville's famous Moogfest is moving to Durham.
The event would happen in the spring of 2016 and, if it’s anything like Asheville’s version, would take over downtown Durham venues for presentations by brainiacs from the likes of MIT and IBM, talks by futurists from the world’s top institutes, live demonstrations of electronic musical instruments, virtual reality devices and other next-generation technologies. More than 100 concerts would go on way into the night, attracting visitors from around the Southeast and some, from around the world.
If you’re into music or tech, you’re probably thinking it’d be pretty freaking sweet.
The event is a huge deal for North Carolina’s largest mountain town—that’s why the potential news comes as such a surprise. Last year, it earned coverage from The Guardian, The New York Times and Billboard. The Guardian wrote that Asheville was “becoming famous” for the event, like Austin for South by Southwest. ExitEvent was there too—here’s my piece about the tech portions of the festival.
But despite hosting four festivals in Asheville over the last five years, Moog hasn’t found a business model that works—it lost $1.5 million last year even while growing pass sales from 5,000 in 2012 (the last year it was held) to 7,000. If Durham gets the event, city and business leaders must be confident they can help turn it around. (ExitEvent parent Capitol Broadcasting Corp. is reportedly supporting the effort.)
Regardless, it’s helpful to have a bit of background in case Moogfest is a yes and Durham has a new event to boast about.
So, why Moog?
The festival began in New York in 2004 to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Moog Music. It became a tribute to the man after his death in 2005 until 2008. A music promoter then helped move the festival to Asheville in October 2010 (there was no 2009 festival) and held two subsequent events before ending its contract in 2012.
Moog Music planned and hosted the festival itself in 2014, introducing a much larger focus on technology and innovation during daytime sessions. One venue even showcased technologies and music innovators from across North Carolina (though it wasn’t well promoted or attended, in my opinion). It’s unclear what role Moog Music would play in a Durham event. But presumably, the region’s tech and academic communities would be involved.
We’re told there’s no news to share at this point. But stay tuned to see if the rumor mill is right or if you’ll have to make the trek to Asheville to experience Moogfest’s awesomeness in 2016.