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Butch Trucks, one of the original members of the Allman Brothers Band, may seem like an unlikely candidate to reinvent the world of online music. But that’s what he hopes to do with Moogis.com, an online music community he founded that offers high-def streaming of live and archived shows.
Moogis, which was launched earlier this month, is currently offering a subscription to the Allman Brothers’ annual run of shows at New York’s Beacon Theater. For $125, you can watch the 15 shows live as they occur, and you’ll also retain access to all of the performances, and a few additional Allman Brothers shows, for the next six months.
As the CEO of Moogis, Trucks hopes to create a new business model for online music, one that offers content and a community worth paying for. The community aspect of Moogis was creating using technology from Wyndstrom (s WYND) Corp., a provider of social networking platforms, and you can often find Trucks himself posting in the Moogis forums, answering user questions about everything from music to technology.
One of the toughest challenges facing his business model is the availability of free audio and videos online. “People feel entitled to take whatever’s online without paying for it,” he says. “So our idea is, yeah, you can steal it, but the content you steal isn’t going to look as good as what you can get if you’re willing to pay for it. And you’re not going to see it live if you’re not paying for it.”
And the content found on Moogis does look good. The Beacon Theater has been rigged with several HD cameras, some operated remotely and others operated by cameramen. A director is on site at each show, and together with a crew of about a dozen people, puts together the footage that is streamed live on Moogis.com.
Moogis offers two video streams: 564k or 1000k. I tested both over wired and wireless Internet connections at home, and for the most part, I very much liked what I saw. The video was very sharp, the kind of true HD content you don’t always find online. Occasionally, I noticed some slight fuzziness — especially when blowing up the video to a full-screen size — but it was rare. Another bonus: I was easily able to jump to points in the 3-hour-plus shows without having to wait for the video to buffer.
Moogis has partnered with OnStream Media to provide the video; in a post on Moogis’s forums, Trucks said that OnStream is providing enough bandwidth to handle a million users. Trucks says that the initial investment to get the Beacon Theater outfitted with the equipment and infrastructure needed to get Moogis.com up and running was “several hundred thousand dollars.” He says Moogis.com has “several thousand” subscribers so far, and while he won’t state the exact number, he’s says it’s enough to break even and potentially even turn a profit on the Beacon Theater run alone.
“There’s really no precedent for what we’re doing here, so we don’t know what to expect [in terms of sales],” he says. But he firmly believes that the Beacon Theater run was a great success for Moogis, proving it as a profitable business concept.
In the near future, he hopes to expand Moogis to other bands as well. “The plan is to move on and have Moogis encompass the whole jamband scene,” Trucks says. He’s hoping to wire six clubs across the country with the HD camera setup used at the Beacon Theater, and then offer a subscription that would allow users to see live concerts online nearly every night.
“There are so many good, young bands out there who aren’t getting the attention they deserve,” he says. “When we started the Allman Brothers Band, there was this great new technology that allowed us to get exposure: FM radio. But FM radio just doesn’t exist like that today. Getting new progressive music played on the radio today is impossible. It’s my hope that this Moogis model can replace that as an exposure point for new bands.”