Moogfest Skips Another Year, Will Return in 2016

'We need a year off to focus on Moog Music, our primary business,' brand director tells Billboard.

Moogfest, the celebration of art, technology and music in Asheville, N.C., will not return until 2016, says parent company Moog Music.

Moog Music invested 3 million into this year's revamped festival, moving the event to the spring, expanding from three to five days and increasing science- and technology-focused daytime programming. Although the week of theremin performances, futurist musings, conversations with electronic music veterans and late-night dance parties received a wave of positive feedback, the company posted a 1.5 million loss on this year's event.

"We need a year off to focus on Moog Music, our primary business," Brand Director Emmy Parker said in an interview with Billboard. "We don't want to compromise Moog Music and we don't want to compromise Moogfest." However, "Moog synths are always going to come first in that equation."

The event will be biennial from now on, the company says. According to a statement from Moog Music President & CEO Mike Adams, "Producing Moogfest every other year allows us to retain the high level of innovative programming as well as the originality and independence we established in 2014." Both Parker and Adams previously indicated to Billboard the company considered this year's event as an investment and did not anticipate it would be profitable.

Parker says holding Moogfest as a biennial event is "something we've talked about for a while now." Prior to the festival this spring, the previous event bearing the Moogfest name was in 2012; a three-day fall festival in Asheville produced by AC Entertainment, the agency that co-produces Bonnaroo with Superfly Productions. Moog Music cut ties with AC Entertainment last year and took a year and a half off to take full control of the festival for the first time, enlisting Paxahau, the producer of Detroit's Movement Electronic Music Festival, to book the performances.

Parker cites the break between the 2012 and 2014 events as the right amount of time for the company to properly plan and execute an event of this scale. This year's festival drew 7,000 badge holders, up from an estimated 5,000 at the last iteration of Moogfest in the fall of 2012. An estimated 25,000 people attended the fest's free programming. As previously reported, income from ticket, merchandise and beverage sales totaled $1.2 million.

If Moogfest wants to grow to the level of an event like South by Southwest, the city of Asheville might not be big enough. When asked if the company has considered separating the festival from the home of the Moog Factory and hometown to Moog Music's founder, Robert Moog, Parker says, "We've considered it. … Our goal is to figure out if we can make Moogfest sustainable in Asheville. If we can make it work here, we will do it here."

Asheville has a population of about 86,000 people (U.S. Census Bureau), and its largest venue, the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium at the U.S. Cellular Center, has a capacity of about 2,500. Other venues include the Orange Peel (about 1,000) and Moderat at Diana Wortham Theater (500-seat theater).

The local government was a major supporter of the 2014 festival; Moogfest received $90,000 in sponsorship from Bunombe Country and $40,000 from the city of Asheville, in addition to $40,000 in in-kind services.

In May, Buncombe County rejected a $250,000 grant application from Moog Music to produce the festival again next year.

"We've received a lot of support from the Durham and Raleigh area" at this year's festival, says Parker. "It went from being an Asheville event to a North Carolina event."

Moogfest also received $316,500 in contributions from sponsors like MailChimp and Pabst Blue Ribbon and audio companies such as Sweetwater, Avid, Behringer and Sennheiser in 2014. Moog Music's grant application cited Google, SAS, Microsoft, Red Hat, IBM, Samsung and Intel as possible sponsors for the next festival.