Cruxy: the fat lady has uploaded her song

This is a repost from the People With Ideas blog aka the blog.

Cruxy was first envisioned back 2004 as something called “DigiPay” and then “OpenVision”, and then ultimately Cruxy, a crossroads of creativity and commerce. Cruxy is also a rock climbing term for a very difficult climbing problem to solve, like perhaps when you have to cling from your fingertips to a horizontal rock shelf and pull yourself up, sweating, planning and thinking the entire way. That’s a bit how the last four+ years have felt… and we are exhausted.

Jon and I
Jon and Nate in Brooklyn, 2006

Jon and I set out to bring creative people making digital works closer to their audiences, and give them powerful tools to distribute and monetize their content online in any format, price or online venue (blog, virtual world, website, mobile phone) they thought was best for their product. It was a distributed market, meant to empower thousands of other sites, as opposed to trying to own a single audience.

The good news is that while Cruxy never really broke through in the way we hoped, the world, including Apple & iTunes, has shifted to embrace some of the ideals we have always had – open formats, more ways to distribute and promote online, more avenues for niche content to be discovered and heard. People today are watching long-form HD video online (though still much of it is content repurposed from mainstream networks for sites like, downloading podcasts and mashing up and sharing their own original creativity like never before. Rock stars like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails are completely destroying myths about how the “music industry” should work, while independent musicians like Jonathan Coulton, are proving that through hard work, creativity and ingenuity, that you can quit your day job.

Jon, Nate, and Will of Cruxy
Jon, Nate and Will at the Cruxy Cantina event in 2007

The world has changed for the better, and we are glad for that, but at some point we have to admit, Cruxy is not needed or used by enough people for us to keep going. While we have had an amazing cloud-based business model since day #1 that actual made sense and worked, thanks to my brilliant, co-founder Jon Oakes, we were never able to scale our business up with enough volume to allow us to make an actual living. Our technology platform, built by the incomparable Will Meyer, was a great success in my mind, being one of the first to fully embrace Amazon’s cloud and provide a widget-based commerce system that actually worked!

With all that said, I (Nathan) sent out the letter below, on behalf of the Cruxy team, to our top artists and sellers…

I am writing to let you know that we are going to stop purchases on Cruxy in one week (March 18th), and then ultimately shutdown the service on April 1. All final payouts to you will be made then.

It has been pretty obvious that we haven’t been able to maintain the high level of service we’d like, and to be honest, it is because none of us can commit the time necessary to making the site work as it should anymore. It just isn’t fair to you or the customers to represent our site as being “open for business” when it barely is. This was a very difficult decision as Cruxy has been 100% built and funded by a very small, passionate team. However, times are tough everywhere, whether online or offline, and we need to come to terms with that.

We really appreciate all of the traffic and business you’ve brought to Cruxy, and are writing you directly because we recognize that, and want to make the transition as smooth as possible. We can keep your pages and links up through March, but we will just be turning off the “BUY” option. This way you can provide an alternate link to direct customers to your download destination. or are both excellent services that you should be able to migrate over to pretty quickly. We also recommend or for hosting high-resolution video (though not for sale)., another Brooklyn-based service, also has an interesting service for paid downloads called PayWall:

If you have any other ideas or questions about how we can make this process work, let me know. Again, you have been an amazing community of creative artists and digital makers, and we wish you the best in your artistic and business efforts moving forward.

Thanks, everybody, for all of your support. Whatever you do, please keep creating, making, sharing, mashing and living. We need art and inspiration in these times, like never before.

Here’s an early “Best of Cruxy” montage… special thanks to all of you who have been with us since the very early days.

and course, the incomparable crew….


Cruxy: New Look and Features Coming Soon!

I’ve been working on a update to Cruxy that provides both a new look and feel, as well as adds some new much needed features (like a shopping cart). One of my primary goals was to improve the ability for visitors to quickly browse and scan through the listings and artists to find something they might be interested in. By moving towards a thumbnail-style layout with rollover popup info boxes and multi-level menus for quickly select a specific genre or media type, I think we’ve made progress toward that goal.

If you have any other ideas or approaches that you think that Cruxy interface could benefit from let me know!

view the full screenshot set

Top half of artist page


Second Life Photo Tour

Second Life is a 3D online digital world that reflects the creativity of the world’s residents. Cruxy can get your digital creations into Second Life for avatars from around the world to discover and experience. Register for Cruxy today, or log into your account, and start making your media available to a whole new world.

Second Life has a vibrant music scene that we are big fans of. We’ve been working hard to bridge the various media promotion and distribution services we’ve built for RL (real life) musicians into the SL Grid and we’re ready to start sharing the results.

Learn more about the Cruxy Player at

Iterative Technology Approaches to a Media Distribution Strategy

As a small to medium-sized media company with a large catalog of digital media, finalizing a technology strategy to allow wide online distribution is a critically important task. It can also seem a daunting one. Vendors and potential partners are likely knocking on the door, each bringing a unique view of the technology problem and how their service or product can solve these needs. Consumer pressure also abounds, as each passing week sees new tools and portals for online media consumption. Certainly, Content Delivery Network (CDN) vendors, bandwidth providers, and full-services media-oriented solutions are in the mix. How should a small to mid-sized media distributor proceed?

A Sea of Solutions

The recent rise in the number of services available to the consumer, the semi-professional artist, and even to the media company directly has been significant. There are currently dozens of solutions that can meet various needs within the media distribution space. There are also any number of internally-deployed systems and infrastructures to handle the distribution tasks. We have observed a number of common pitfalls when medium-sized media outfits tackle this landscape, especially when the unit functions under a larger corporate ownership umbrella:

  • Corporate-wide, large-scale, all-or-nothing partnerships typically, especially in the highly competitive environment facing today’s media enterprises, leave no room for market testing and fail much more often than they are successful.
  • Group-by-group expirementation with consumer tools, while in most cases not harmful, usually is not quantifiable in terms of return. Creating a MySpace page, because it seems like the thing to do, and then collecting friends is not a standalone distribution strategy.
  • Internal technology efforts become mired in the internal workings of a large corporation, one which is not necessarily a technology corporation.

Flexible Experimentation is Key

The number of large-scale distribution programs that have launched, and subsequently failed, in recent years and months is often staggering. It is our belief that for the majority of small to medium-sized media companies, an effective strategy rests on the ability to experiment within campaigns. In a lesson taken from modern software engineering practices, an iterative strategy can often prove highly effective for a number of reasons:

  • By reducing internal cycle time and overhead, you can get in front of niche consumers with innovative new promotional vehicles quickly, and build a reputation by doing so.
  • By limiting the initial outreach to less-critical media properties, you can gain valuable insight on what works and what doesn’t, without risking the mission-critical properties.
  • By spending less time on organization-wide analysis and coordination, you can focus on deploying the solution quickly and spending that time to analyze and understand its impact, strengthening your overall strategy with each new piece of knowledge.
  • When it is appropriate to roll the strategy into a unified whole, potentially for use across all media properties, the insight and data obtained from the smaller-scale initiatives will be invaluable.

Given this, how can you adopt these types of flexible practices?


The challenge, then, becomes one of balancing the substantial capability made available by consumer-oriented services with the need to measure return and iteratively form the overall strategy through a series of learning exercises. To this end, we have found that often smaller technology firms with existing technology bases can offer a compelling solution during this phase of strategy development. Computing and data-serving platforms such as those available from Amazon (EC2 and S3) can greatly increase the robustness and speed of deployment for these solutions, allowing them to be offered as “for real” services for a fraction of the cost of large-scale CDN partnerships. The resources freed up by not involving a corporation-wide internal IT effort or large-scale partnership can then be put to use in gathering and understanding analytical data from these next-generation campaigns.

Over time, the value a media company can derive from a series of low-cost campaign deployments, in terms of strategic refinement, hands-on experience with the new technologies and user-interaction models, and avoiding costly and embarrassing mistakes, far outweighs that available from traditional closed-loop analysis.

Sites that Help Video Producers Make Money

Scott Kirsner, editor of Cinematech has published a free excerpt from his book, The Future of Web Video.


“New revenue opportunities are emerging with the recent boom in video viewing on the Web. On this chart, I’ve tried to list all of the Web sites that enable independent video producers to make money from their work. I’ve ranked the sites subjectively, based on how much traffic and buzz they’ve been attracting, and also how likely it seems that a video producer would actually manage to earn a significant return by posting a video to them.”

Even though we are still in beta, Cruxy has been included in this list, along with many other great sites – some competitors and others with different approaches to making money. View the full chart and buy the book on Scott’s website. (Thanks, Scott!)