Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


After Google doodles: 56 million Moog tunes and counting

Three weeks later, Moog is still processing the activity created by the Google doodle that celebrated Bob’s legacy – and crashed the company’s server several times over, writes Erica Basnicki.

Europe caught wind of the celebrated Moog Google Doodle, or the ‘Goog’, at the end of the day on 22 May, just as Australia was waking up. By the morning of 23 May, the PSNEurope office was buzzing with the sound of digitally recreated analogue synthesizer sounds, a scene repeated the world over, it would seem: a week after the doodle, Google tweeted that over 54 million ‘songs’ had been recorded with it. At last count, that number is now up to over 56 million. Now archived on Google’s website, the doodle was created to honour what would have been synth pioneer Robert Moog’s 78th birthday. Moog died in August 2005, four months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Emmy Parker, Moog Music Inc’s senior marketing and brand manager, had already planned a vacation for that week of May. It became one of the most intensive leaves of absence she’s ever experienced: “It was Vacation 2012 – The Remix: 23 hours a day of work, but sitting in a beach condo. It was kind of different,” she said. The work actually began about a week before the doodle’s launch, when Moog was informed of Google’s plan to honour Bob’s legacy. According to Parker, Moog had just a few days to prepare for “an insane amount of attention.” Specifically, head Google doodler Ryan Germick, told the company to prepare for hits to the company’s website to reach the low millions. Not surprisingly, even Germick underestimated the popularity of the doodle: “It exceeded everything (we expected),” said Parker. “I think we broke some records. We’re still trying to get a clear idea of just how many people hit the website. It was a real feat for us to try shore up our servers and increase their capability in that amount of time. Honestly, we were not 100% successful; the site went down several times throughout the day. We did the best we could and we saw that as a positive sign that more people are interested in our little company – and Bob’s legacy – than what we thought. “ Not surprisingly, the extra attention resulted in a spike in sales for Moog. According to Parker, T-shirts and Moog’s iOS apps – Filtatron and Animoog ­– were especially popular. Minimoog Voyageur sales remained steady however: “No, there was no mass buying of a $3,200, hand-made, very advanced and innovative synthesizer,” she said, laughing. Parker also noted that what was most rewarding for Moog was the attention and awareness that Google brought to Bob’s legacy, as well as the outstanding effort given to the doodle: “Their engineers actually volunteered their hours because they felt so strongly about honouring Bob, and worked many, many, many hours reading our Minimoog manuals to figure out subtractive synthesis so that they could create an instrument that they felt really represented the Minimoog well,” she said. “We thought they did a fantastic job given the technical limitations and the time limitations, and I think everybody here was really pleased with what they came up with.” “Given that in the grand scheme of things, the analogue synth world is still a relatively small industry I’m always surprised (and really shouldn’t be) to see people wearing Moog T-Shirts about town,” Alex Theakston of Source Distribution, responsible for Moog instruments sold into the UK, told PSNEurope. “But watching the reactions as people turned on their computers that morning, people who would never normally encounter a synthesizer, was a reminder of the effect Bob’s electronic achievement has made, and still continues to make.” Moog Music Inc is especially grateful to Joey Hurst, who led the ‘Goog’ project: “It was just incredible how much he learned about Bob, subtractive synthesis, and the Minimoog while he was putting this together. We’re building something for him now to send him as a gift.” That “something” is meant to be a surprise, but let’s just say we’re all very jealous here at PSNEurope. Very jealous indeed. After such an intense period of activity, is Parker now vying for another vacation – but this time, a real one? “In a way, it was the best vacation ever because I got to be involved in a once-in-a-lifetime project. Everyone who works here loves Moog so much, and respects Bob so much, so it’s a real joy to have something like that happen, and we feel so much gratitude for the effort that everyone put in.” Apparently not, then.