Moonalice: Art, Apps and George Takei Aspirations
A poster tree takes root
Can you talk a bit about poster trees? What are they, where are they and what do they have to do with Moonalice?
Poster trees are a way of displaying 500 posters outdoors in any weather where the wind is light. A friend of the band invented them so we could have poster exhibits when we play in San Francisco’s Union Square and other parks around California. A couple of the posters have face-shaped holes so that everyone can take photo of their very own poster.
Let’s move on and discuss MoonTunes. How long did it take you to develop?
We have been giving away our music from the first show in May 2007. We invented our way from Twittercasts to live HD video on smartphones over five years. It started when our first drum tech, Glenn Evans, brought a video camera to a show, put it at the soundboard and sold DVDs for $5. Over the course of a couple years, he got up to four cameras, at which point post production took a month for every show. That’s when we switched to live production and transmission. The first livestream was a four camera low def shoot in LA. We got a free Livestream account for the show, but half an hour in, we had more than 50 viewers, so we had to give Livestream a credit card. The fans made it clear that live video was cool idea, but it took a ton of experiments – with wifi, cellular and satellite – to get to where we are now.
MoonTunes® is what we call the mobile video product. It’s available to anyone, including PCs and Macs, but MoonTunes is optimized for iPad, iPhone, android. You will find it at Moonalice.com. MoonTunes is organized by show. It starts with live video casts and includes every show we have played. 550 posters. 450 shows of audio, 220 shows of video.
We have done 220 live broadcasts and the video gets better all the time. We’re using the latest web technology – HTML5 – to enable an unbuffered 720p HD stream that works over 3G mobile networks.
It seems rather remarkable that so much media can be offered. What limitations if any would users experience who may not have the latest device?
No one gets left behind!! MoonTunes® is available to anyone for free. All you need is an up-to-date browser on PC or Mac, it just doesn’t look as fancy as the mobile version. You will find everything at Moonalice.com.
If you have an iPad or iPhone and some Androids, the experience is optimized for the small screen. When you go to Moonalice.com, follow the link to the MoonTunes player. When it loads, touch the “arrow-in-a-box” button, then Add to Homescreen. It will now behave like an app.
You’re offering all of these free to fans, can you talk about that decision? What business model (if any) is driving this or is this all about sharing the love?
I view Moonalice the way a philanthropist might view the Symphony or the Opera. I invest because I believe Moonalice can improve people’s lives. We have made ourselves a hub for creative people, and I support that creativity, whether it comes in the form of music, light show, posters, live video, live paintings, pottery, plush animals, pies, or our Facebook community.
Our tribe isn’t huge, but it’s really engaged. For example, we believe our Facebook page is one of only two Facebook fan pages with more than 100% engagement (you can be >100% because the number includes Likes/Shares/Comments from friends of our fans). The king of engagement is our hero, George Takei, who has 2.5 million fans and currently runs a percent or two ahead of us.
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