“Electronic dance music is what rock ‘n’ roll was decades ago. It’s a ‘fuck you’ to your parents.” “A lean-back, TV-like experience on the Internet is the future of television.”
MOX.tv is a web tv channel built on these two ideas that’s coming out of stealth today. It broadcasts dance music videos, concerts, and news hosted by VJs 24 hours a day. Just open MOX.tv and start grooving — no clicks necessary
Throw Away Your Mouse
It’s that simplicity that could make MOX a hit. Right now, the Internet is exhausting. You constantly have to decide where to click next. That causes what’s known as “decision fatigue.” You get tired of weighing the options and just tune out. Founder Carter Laren, who gave me those quotes above, explains “The Internet today is really good at giving you exactly what you want…but often you don’t know exactly what you want to listen to or watch.
MOX’s human curators make those choices so you don’t have to. Instead you can just let it play. Browse the rest of the web, and MOX becomes a passive electronic dance music (EDM) radio experience. Hear something you like and you can watch the video then resume surfing when it ends and the next video starts. To try it for yourself, visit MOX.tv or watch this quick sample of what it looks like:
That doesn’t mean MOX wants to sacrifice the interactivity which is the Internet’s strength over television and the FM dial. Scroll below the video channel and you’ll see related content about whatever artist or festival is currently on the air. And if you really want to tune the experience you use buttons on the left to watch just a stream of news presented by human video jockeys, Bass (aka dubstep), Chill (downtempo EDM), or Dance (uptempo non-dubstep EDM). That way if you really hate the dubstep or peppy trance anthems, you can avoid them.
The Long Road To Less
Laren started working on MOX about 18 months ago after working for Cryptography Research, scoring some exits in Blu-ray technology, and investing in a few projects, including San Francisco dance club Monarch. Now he’s funding MOX until it closes a seed round next month. In the meantime MOX acquired http://cull.tv, and its founder is now MOX’s CTO.
At first the startup planned to help bring the live music experience into the living room before pivoting into EDM web TV a year ago. The team started testing with 16-24-year-old focus groups and found they loved the 24/7 video stream but were confused by too many configuration options. So MOX ditched the DVR-style timeline that originally let people skip around in the stream.
The kids also loved MOX’s focus on dance music. Which differentiates it from music video site Vevo’s new “MTV for the web” service. Turn on Vevo.tv and you’ll see tired pop music like Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift. That leaves plenty of room for MOX to become the home for a younger generation obsessed with EDM. Its focus on video, another favorite of the youth, could give it an edge on text-heavy sites like Turntable.FM co-founder Seth Goldstein’s new DJZ that is also vying for raver eyeballs.
Laren confesses MOX is very much in beta and its nine-employee team still has a lot to do. “The news is still really ghetto right now” he admits, referring to the haphazard DJ interviews and concert features played at the top of the hour. Mox is also planning to build an embed tool so you can host its video stream, as well as a search box so you can play certain music videos on demand.
Luckily it doesn’t have to go crazy with monetization too early. Since music videos are essentially marketing, record labels typically give them to MOX royalty-free, so it doesn’t have to pay out huge sums like Pandora or Spotify.
MOX does have some advertising already, like the Absolut commercial that doubles as a Swedish House Mafia music video. Laren hopes to keep ads on the main channel highly curated and in a similar content-as-marketing vein. It might look into more aggressive advertising, but only in the lean-forward parts of the site like search where people are more tolerant because they’re asking for something. Premium concert streams are another opportunity.
A Generation, Synchronized
Honestly, I’m really enjoying MOX. It’s a great combination of a passive and active experience that fits into my web browsing habits. I turn it on, watch a little, then go on with my day as it plays in the background with the consistent beats keeping me in a state of flow. If I hear something that grabs my attention or the news comes on, I pull up the window and watch again. That gives MOX an edge on radio, on-demand streaming, blogs, Turntable, and most other music experiences.
Knowing there’s a human choosing what plays, and that other people are watching/listening to the same thing at the same time gives me this subtle feeling of community. And that’s really what EDM is about — a pulse that synchronizes everyone in earshot, that breaks the ice and makes people feel part of something bigger. If MOX can just get us to turn it on, we’ll let it stream through our stereos all day long.