Violent Femmes bassman Brian Ritchie has scoured YouTube to come up with the weird and wonderful acts for this year's Tasmanian arts festival MONA FOMA.

Ritchie, who curates the event linked to Hobart's groundbreaking Museum of Old and New Art, says even organisers will be surprised by what the eclectic Festival of Music and Art has to offer.

That's partly because some acts are booked on the basis of the clips they post on the internet.

"It's actually quite effective, you learn a lot that way," Ritchie told reporters at the festival's launch on Friday.

"Some festival directors travel around a lot, and I do that a lot as a musician, but I don't do it as a festival director."

A dancing robot, a prog-punk space opera and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra's (TSO) first appearance at the five-year-old festival are among 200 acts who will perform between January 15-19.

Ritchie says among the highlights will be Iceland-based American singer/songwriter John Grant and legendary jazz band Sun Ra Arkestra, whose leader Marshall Allen will celebrate his 90th birthday in Hobart.

The TSO will perform soundtrack pieces to a range of movie-house Pixar's features.

Several acts will be shared with the Festival of Sydney taking place in the same month.

"At the end of the day (audiences are) either satisfied, confused or really happy - or all three of those things," Ritchie said.

"We don't really care which."

Even without his YouTube search, Ritchie says he would have no trouble filling the Helpmann award-winning festival as its reputation grows.

"We've got artists internationally banging down the doors trying to get into the festival," he said.

"It's established but we hope that we will never become complacent and repetitive and that's the reason we change it around every year.

"We don't want to just get into a formula because it's those formulaic festivals that come and go."

Ritchie will reform the Violent Femmes for Tasmanian rock festival Falls, also in January, and says he got the idea for the reunion from an impromptu performance of the band's songs at MONA FOMA in 2012.

He says the Femmes are happy to be playing again but there is no new material on the horizon.


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