Kroogi [Russian: Круги, translation: circles, http://kroogi.com/] is a “content community” where musicians, painters, writers, videographers, photographers, and other users and organizations, that wish to share their projects with the world, showcase their work. Their supporters can follow their activity, download content, and make monetary contributions. Kroogi encourages its users to support artists and their projects through voluntary contributions, and by promoting artistic content. Users pay for downloading content based on a “Pay what you want” model, which allows fans and followers to set their own price for artists’ work. Artists also have the option of setting a minimum necessary contribution for downloads.
Kroogi.com offers a middle ground between free-of-charge (and often illegal) and fixed-fee models in ways that respect both artist and user rights. Content creators benefit from having the support of a community of loyal fans, who get to experience artistic content without restriction.
Kroogi provides customized tools for social interaction, community creation, fundraising, content sharing, chatting, content rating and more. The Kroogi Facebook application and embeddable music widget for blogs and websites allow artists to give their content a global audience, and fans to share and promote artist’s content.
Kroogi.com is currently available in two languages, English and Russian. The company is based in San Francisco, CA.
Kroogi was founded in 2007 by Miro Sarbaev, a director at Liquid Audio as well as Shawn Fanning’s Napster and SNOCAP. The beta version of the site was launched on November 11, 2008. A year later, after building a community of approximately 100,000 artists and fans in and around Russia, Kroogi began expansion into the U.S., Europe and South America.
Use of the website is free. In order to receive contributions for their content, users are required to create a Kroogi account. Similar to Myspace and Facebook, users can add other users as friends, send private messages, and post comments and announcements. They can also add images, writings, videos, music, create folders with multiple files, and share their content with other users and projects. Users must own the copyright or have permissions of copyright owners for the content they upload to their profile.
Personal Profile vs. Project Profile
In addition to regular personal profiles, users can create project profiles to manage their creative projects. For example, band members can set up individual personal profiles for themselves, and then create a project profile for their band and manage it together. A project profile can have multiple hosts, whereas a personal profile is managed solely by the person who created it. Projects can be created after user registration.
Kroogi is also a social game that creates motivation for artists and fans to interact and support each other online as well as in the real world.
Kroogi user followers are organized by "circles" such as fans, interested, supporters, friends, and family. Users can also assign their own names to circles. Depending on the circle settings, a user can join without approval, request an invitation, or be asked to join. This feature can be used to keep certain information private from groups of people. For example, bands can reward loyal fans in exclusive circles by granting access to private information or content. Fans are encouraged to support their favorite artists in order to move up in their circles and “get closer” to the artist.
Kroogi allows all users and projects to get compensated based on a “Pay What You Want” model. All content can be made available for downloads, and users can set up a money system to receive monetary contributions for all content and activity. Artists can also set minimum necessary contributions for downloads.
It is not uncommon for entertainers to receive questions from the audience. Kroogi offers artists the opportunity to turn the tables on their spectators and let the viewers respond to their inquiries instead. The Q&A Forum can be used to conduct surveys and ask followers for their feedback.
Kroogi is a home for those who appreciate various forms of art, a place where an artist can also be a fan and vice versa. Users can follow or build several projects to accommodate the various forms of their artistic vision and showcase multiple talents and interests.
Musicians can upload their tracks and, if they choose, make them available for downloads. Kroogi is a comfortable music industry hang out where artists and other industry representatives can network.
Artists and photographers can upload and share their creations with other users. Images can be downloaded in their original file sizes and users can make contributions to support their favorite projects.
Videographers can upload their short films, cartoons and other work, and make their content available for downloads.
Writers can share their essays, short stories, poems, lyrics, and other written content with a community of writers and followers. The system supports plain text, as well as downloadable formats, such as pdf and ePub.
Let your audience pitch in! The Kroogi TPS (threshold pledge system) Campaign tool allows you to raise funds for projects that deliver tangible results such as a new album or a book.
Sell tickets to any event. The Kroogi TicketsBooth is for venue owners, performers, and all other event organizers.
Gather support for a cause. The Kroogi FundDrive tool raises funds for charitable organizations.
Share your knowledge with the whole world. If you want to give online lessons via Skype video, this module is for you.
Launch a Music Contest on Kroogi. This module allows other users to submit music files for your review.
Users can create projects such as fan clubs, themed communities, fundraisers, and other projects dedicated to a particular area of interest or an organization. Since all projects and users can set up payment systems, Kroogi provides a platform for all user efforts to be rewarded.
Kroogi’s Facebook application allows Facebook users with Kroogi accounts to download music from Facebook, and share it with others. Kroogi is also present on other social networks such as Twitter, Myspace, and LiveJournal.
The beta version, released in 2008, focused on the Russian market. In its first year, the site attracted major names in the music, art, publishing and film industries. Countless communities of fans and supporters have sprung up around Kroogi projects.
Since its launch, Kroogi and its projects have made multiple appearances in the national press and on major TV channels such as MTV and MuzTV. As of April, 2010, the Kroogi beta version supported an active community of approximately 45,000 artists and fans in and around Russia.
Notable musicians on Kroogi include Goatika Creative Lab, Irina Mikhailova, Alex Theory, Chlorophil, t.A.T.u., Jen Pumo, Aquarium, Fleur, Moscow Grooves Institute, Animal Jazz, Komba BAKH, Tequilajazzz, Kolibri and more. The well-known animator, Ivan Maximov, as well as the playwright/author, Evgeny Grishkovets, also showcase their work on Kroogi.
Kroogi founder Miro Sarbaev has had an exciting career at the intersection of music and technology. During the collapse of the Soviet Union (1985–1990), he worked as a freelance journalist for major newspapers and news agencies in Russia. In 1990 he co-founded IMA Press, a Russian news agency and opened an IMA office in the USA where he also began consulting for technology companies. In 1999, Miro was hired by Napster’s Shawn Fanning to manage Napster’s database group. In 2002, he joined Fanning’s Snocap, where he served as director of engineering and built Snocap’s music licensing engine. He founded Kroogi in 2007 and launched the community in November, 2008.
Miro resides in San Francisco and Moscow, and commutes frequently between the two locations. He holds a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Moscow Power Engineering University.