Moogfest reportedly considering move to Durham

The 2014 Moogfest featured a wealth of performances from major musical acts such as the Pet Shop Boys, pictured here. Photo by David Simchock

The Indy Week is reporting that Moogfest “is looking to relocate to downtown Durham in April 2016,” according to “several independent sources” who go unnamed in the story.

On Jan. 15, Moog Music’s public relations representative responded to a query from Xpress stating that the company has “no comment” at this time.

If the festival does move to Durham, it won’t be the first time it will be held outside of Asheville, where Moog Music founder Bob Moog lived from 1979 until his death in 2005.

Smaller Moogfests were held in New York City from 2004-08. Moog Music partnered with AC Entertainment to produce larger Moogfests in Asheville from 2010-12. Last year, Moog Music split from AC Entertainment and revamped the music festival, putting more focus on speaker panels and technology exhibits. The five-day April event was a major boon to the local economy, generating $14 million, according to an analysis by the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.

The ultimate goal of the festival, which featured a wide range of performances, talks and demonstrations by musical and technological innovators, “was all about attracting entrepreneurs to Asheville to see what a great place we live in,” said Moog Music CEO Mike Adams in a July interview with Xpress.

However, the festival cost about $2.74 million to produce and lost roughly $1.5 million for the private company.

Update – Moog Music sent the following statement on Jan. 15 after this post was published:

We are aware and appreciative that people are interested in details regarding Moogfest 2016. At this time, everyone in the Moog Music Factory in Asheville, NC is diligently working toward the 2015 NAMM trade show, the largest musical instrument expo in the world, taking place next week.  As such, we are currently focused on our new electronic musical instruments which will be announced shortly. We look forward to sharing the details of Moogfest 2016 with the music, tech and art community as they become available. In the meantime, it’s all about analog synthesizers.

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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17 thoughts on “Moogfest reportedly considering move to Durham

  1. bsummers

    Maybe if someone from the City drives down there right now and throws wads of cash at the Moog headquarters, they’ll stop scaring us.

  2. Josh Batenhorst

    How big of a boon is $14 million over 5 days compared to other events in the past (i.e. Bele Chere)? I honesty don’t know. It was a great festival, though. Very creative. It would be a loss, but maybe Moog would do well to speak to festival goers, the city and the creative community about ways to improve profutability before it pulls up shop and heads to Durham. Durham is ok, but I wouldn’t make the trip. Asheville is its own destination.

    • bsummers

      They lost $1.5 million on a $2.7 million budget. I don’t think ‘improving profitability’ was going to help – Moog wants taxpayers to subsidize them. If that’s the business model for your corporate-branded event, no thank you.

      • Of course, Mike Adams told Council members last year that they were fully prepared to lose money on the first go-round. I believe SXSW lost money at first, too.

  3. chris

    The goal of the last Moogfest was “all about attracting entrepreneurs to Asheville to see what a great place we live in”…

    So, what is the message they’re sending by relocating to Durham?

    But, more power to them. If this step aids in bringing back Mountain Oasis, then I’m all for it.

    • bsummers

      So, what is the message they’re sending by relocating to Durham?

      “Screw Asheville. Bring those tech jobs to Durham.”

    • Big Al

      Where exactly are these entrepreneurs supposed to live? Housing here kinda sucks.

      • Bobbie Moonshine

        Honey you know they are gonna live in overcrowded bungalows off of haywood

  4. bsummers

    From the AC-T last July:

    The festival received $90,000 in funding from the county and $40,000 from the city of Asheville, along with another $50,000 in in-kind services.

    “It was good return on investment. You can’t buy that type of exposure,” said David Gantt, chairman of the Buncombe Board of Commissioners. “Moogfest gives a vehicle to get to people who might not consider Asheville as a place for technology otherwise. Impressions are one of the economic indicators of the new age. It’s not the traditional economic development model, I think it’s the future.”

    Organizers never portrayed Moogfest as a moneymaker in its first year, said Mayor Esther Manheimer.

    “We have a company based here willing to put forward their own capital to produce a citywide event in part to help expand our footprint in technology business. That was a good investment,” Manheimer said.
    http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/07/23/moogfest-return/13054091

    If they do move to Durham, I say we ask for that money back.

    • chris

      Well, then, we should also give back the $14 million that was generated by Moogfest, too.

  5. bsummers

    And in a completely unrelated story that also came out yesterday, Chiquta Banana is abandoning Charlotte after only three years, after getting millions in incentives to move there:

    ““You can’t expect loyalty from any company if you’re paying them to move,” said Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James, a longtime critic of incentives. “Government was basically prostituting themselves to get them here. … Nobody falls in love with a prostitute.”

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2015/01/14/5447999/chiquitas-early-exit-raises-incentives.html#.VLgW_sltOCl

  6. Jaybird

    Moogfest was, by far, the best and most intriguing music and arts fest I have ever attended. I covered the festival for Asheville FM and met many many wonderful people visiting our town, spending money on local businesses, and heard many of the folks expressing a serious interest in visiting our town in the future to see the rest that the area has to offer. With programming almost 24 hours a day, Moogfest was a fully immersive experience.

    Nothing even remotely close to the depth and scope of the festival – culture, art, science, and music – would be in our tiny mountain town without the folks at Moog and their festival partners. Many of the musical artists, scientific presenters and other panelists are the kinds of names that would never come to Asheville on their own. To see many of these folks, you need to travel to Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta or further afield. For many of us, that isn’t a possibility due to logistics and cost.

    Losing Moogfest to Raleigh would be an incredible loss for Asheville. It’s a shame the long-term value of something like Moogfest isn’t appreciated by a vocal bunch of nay-sayers.

    • bsummers

      As one of the ‘nay-sayers’, I suppose, let me just say – that’s all good. If you enjoyed Moogfest, that’s great. I was excited about it at first, too. Somewhat less excited when I heard that tickets started at around $300. And when they started demanding public subsidy for their corporate-branded event, I really started to lose interest.

      The kicker was when they invited Gov. Pat McCrory as guest of honor (and then pretended great shock and offense when that didn’t go over well in a town where he is wildly unpopular). And this part wasn’t reported or mentioned anywhere, except by nay-sayers like me: when McCrory accepted the invite, Moogfest quietly deleted the words “Western North Carolina” from the title of the kickoff economic development panel discussion, and stacked it with people from Raleigh/Durham. Moogfest officially stopped being about bringing hi-tech jobs and investment to Asheville. But we’re still expected to chip in taxpayer money to put it on (and CEO Mike Adams made it clear that he felt insulted by the paltry $180,000).

      Now, he’s threatening to take it away from us altogether, and tell the world “Forget about Asheville – bring those hi-tech jobs etc. to Durham instead”. (I imagine if the City and County offered to double or triple the subsidy, he might deign to let the event stay in Bob Moog’s hometown – but I seriously hope they don’t give in to this sort of blackmail.)

      So I understand that I’m speaking about it in political terms, not how great it might have been culturally. I’m sorry that it’s mired in politics, but it is, because Moog’s leadership put it there. I never met Bob Moog, but from what I do know about him, he wouldn’t be a fan of how this festival that bears his name is being run.

      If Moog takes their festival away from you and bestows it on another city, it won’t be because of a handful of nay-sayers.

        • bsummers

          Fair enough. Still too much to charge for a publicly-supported event.

          And if we’re being fair, we ought to recognize that that “$14 million” economic impact estimate was paid for by Moog, as part of their campaign to get more public financing. But they didn’t release the actual study, allowing us to check their math or their methodology, we simply had to trust the talking points from their press release. So take that with a grain of salt.

    • JD

      Ditto Jaybird,
      The extent of talent, knowledge and musical experience at last years Moogfest was only overshadowed by the fun and excitement of continuous music events, concerts and panels in a musical mountain town like Asheville. And 14 million dropped into our economy isn’t bad either. Moving it to the Triangle may sound like a good idea but the artists and fans want it here. And so would Bob Moog. Ask the wise old father of the festival, friend of Bob Moog and the first performer ever to tour with the original Moog Sythesizer, Keith Emerson, what he thinks. Guaranteed he’s coming to Asheville.

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