The explosion of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is largely associated with events in physical places—Ibiza, Las Vegas, New York, and the booming market of destination festivals like Ultra and Electric Daisy Carnival. But thanks to new service Mixify Clubcast, college students in, say, Topeka, Kansas, can have the same immersive experience with superstar DJs without either having to travel.
The service enables venues to host a high-quality two-way livestream during which both fans and DJs can see each other on large flat-panel HD screens. With the right in-venue production, the experience can be nearly identical to an in-person performance, opening potentially huge opportunities for the EDM industry in smaller and international markets. Mixify Clubcast has already facilitated successful events in cities like Boise, Idaho, and Champaign, Illinois, and will be in 12 to 15 U.S. markets by the end of January, including Sarasota, Atlanta, and San Antonio, according to Mixify founder and CEO David Moricca. After that, the focus will be international—places like Singapore, Malaysia, and Latin America, where, Moricca says, exists "80% of the opportunity."
Clubcast is offered by Mixify.com, an online EDM livestreaming service that allows DJs to put on virtual shows via the web and a mobile app and chat with fans. "As Mixify.com got more industry awareness, we had a trickling in of agents in secondary and tertiary markets," says Moricca. "They explained that in their markets they couldn’t make it work with the logistics and fees to get artists out there. The idea was can we create an experience using our technology that’s compelling to fans in a venue?" In addition to high audio quality, which the Mixify platform already had, Moricca realized that a venue-based event with a crowd needed to recreate the live experience in every possible way. "It needed to be two-way," he says. "The artist had to be able to see dance floor getting more crowded, see the attendees interact." Mixify also has a best-practices document that details the venue’s ideal production setup, from the angle of the projector to the placement of the artist’s custom visuals. In the best events, the screens are positioned to make the artist larger than life so that it feels like he's in the room. Venues also use smoke machines, confetti, special lighting, and other tangible elements that make live DJ sets exciting.
Moricca says that when the service was first piloted in Boise, the promoters, artists, and venue were all skeptical, wondering how fans would react. "But within two to three minutes, we saw fans go from looking up at the screens in bewilderment to dancing and partying." He adds that at the first event in July, which featured two local artists onsite and rising Atlanta DJ Popeska streaming from afar, "the dance floor was the most crowded for the remote artist." Other DJs streamed via Clubcast have included L.A. star Schoolboy and breakout DJ Deorro, whose label Panda Funk hosted a showcase that streamed into a venue in Champaign.
"The best artists for us are mid- to upper-midlevel acts," says Moricca. "Artists who aren’t yet at the level of Deadmau5 and Tiesto, but who are trending and in a lot of demand—but the venues and agents aren’t sure if it’s worth the trip. So the remote sets are also market research."
Mixify.com still remains an active platform, and the company has successfully monetized it through partner programs and enhanced services for participating DJs, including detailed social metrics that help artists leverage their social-media engagement into booking fees. But Moricca believes venue-based streaming is where the company’s real growth opportunity lives.
"Working with venues offers a more robust revenue model—it’s where the revenue is already flowing, in bookings," says Moricca. The challenge is in determining the price point for each artist in this new virtual format. "We’re essentially negotiating on behalf of the managers and agents, but there is no established market for this—you know what rate the artists are being booked at for in-person performances, so we’re navigating the digital side. We sit in an interesting position. We want the venues and promoters to be successful, but at the same time our relationships are about growing the artists and managers. So we’re working on finding a happy medium and determining what a physical booking rate translates into a virtual booking."
Mixify Clubcast is still in very early stages, but success of the events so far, combined with the global demand for EDM and the clear business model, are strong indicators.
"I think why this will work ultimately is that it’s purely additive to everyone," says Moricca. "From an artist and management perspective, you’re not cannibalizing your major markets—it’s not New York and L.A., it’s Auburn, Indiana, and you get new market research and reach. On an international scale, given that it’s really hard to get to Asia and Latin America, the opportunity is huge. If we can figure out a way to make the economics work in these smaller markets without agents and artists losing booking fees, it can be really, really successful."