Soapbox: Moonalice Innovates In Online Community Building
K. Smith is communications director at DeliRadio, “a free, location-based music platform connecting listeners with local concerts.” Here he shares his thoughts on Moonalice who are currently on an east coast tour.
The days of rockstar mystique— when an artist could retain a mysterious distance from fans — are over. Today, fans expect access to their music idols at all times via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and artists new and old must develop an engaging online presence to meet that demand. Working at DeliRadio, I get to see firsthand the bands that are taking the lead in online promotion. (For the uninitiated, DeliRadio – “radio for concert lovers” – plays music by bands with upcoming shows nearby. It can also play venue and festival lineups, or your hometown acts.) So far, one of the most impressive examples I have seen of an act on DeliRadio that has cultivated a vibrant online presence has been independent folk rock act Moonalice. I had seen Moonalice’s artwork before (we’ll get to that later), but it wasn’t until they joined DeliRadio that I visited their website and dug a little deeper and was amazed at what I found. The band has unceremoniously dispensed with much of the preconceived wisdom of self-promotion of the traditional record industry, and been blazing its own trail online. I contacted Moonalice to talk about some of the ways it’s accomplished that, and where it’s going next.
The Moonalice Legend
Moonalice formed in 2007 and creates the kind of swaying, soulful, tie-dyed folk rock that has roots and spirit in the culture of the 1960s. Within the group’s nostalgic sound and hippy visual aesthetic, there are lots of counter culture references, be it about getting high (“It’s 420 Somewhere”) or just not letting hard times get you down (“American Dream Rag”). Moonalice is made up of Bay Area rock scene veterans: Barry Sless (lead guitar, pedal steel, bass), Pete Sears (keyboards, bass, guitar, vocals), John Molo (drums, vocals). And if you’re familiar with the technology or venture capital worlds, you may have heard of Roger McNamee. Among other things, McNamee is a co-founder of Elevation Partners, a successful technology investment group which has backed everything from Facebook to Yelp, and major video game developers like BioWare. McNamee is also a co-founder, rhythm guitarist, bassist, and singer for Moonalice. Given McNamee’s intimate familiarity with cutting edge technology, you’d expect Moonalice to have a pretty savvy web presence, but that’s almost like saying Jerry Garcia knew how to play guitar.
Live concert broadcasts
Moonalice has made a go of it for five years now – playing over 450 gigs, and releasing 1 album and 3 EPs – all without the help of a record label, a manager, or a publicist. The money saved on traditional infrastructure was invested (among other things) in online video. Around 2010, Moonalice linked up with MobileRider, who are “expert in the delivery of live and on-demand content over the Internet and across multiple platforms.” Using MobileRider, Moonalice was able to develop a system, dubbed MoonTunes, which allows one to watch most of the band’s concerts live and online in real time HD at moonalice.com and on various mobile devices. The result for Moonalice is a powerful promotional tool — the ability for fans to watch any show performed live through the Internet, free of charge, in HD.
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