ScratchAudio

Summary

ScratchAudio’s business model requires more than lightning fast CPU speeds and uptime —it needs huge amounts of disk space to store user-contributed music files and bandwidth for file transfers. But most infrastructure pricing is by the gigabyte and costs can quickly get out of hand. Read how HOSTING, Microsoft BizSpark and ScratchAudio came up with a plan to incubate this music collaboration start-up during its boot-strapping phase.

Key Terms

Online Music Collaboration – Dedicated Server – Denver data center
BizSpark – Silverlight – Start-up Incubation – Media Hosting

“Our challenge was not unique to ScratchAudio – we had an innovative product, but the costs in traditional storage and licensing models made our launch cost prohibitive. HOSTING and Microsoft provided the unique pricing model and break we needed on licensing to launch — and prove we have a great idea!”

ScratchAudio Founder
Eric Herbrandson

Incubating Innovation with Infrastructure

Background

ScratchAudio.com founder Eric Herbrandson and his team believe in DIY (do it yourself) music. So much so that they self-funded and built the ScratchAudio online music collaboration site, where musicians and vocalists of all genres and tastes can upload loops or use ScratchAudio’s free loops, then collaborate, build, layer, and make beautiful music together (you knew that last bit was coming, didn’t you?).

This very early stage, innovative start-up has bootstrapped itself thus far on founder dollars. This means that infrastructure costs come directly out of their own pockets. To grow, ScratchAudio has taken advantage of a joint HOSTING – Microsoft BizSpark incubation program designed to help innovative young companies emerge.

scratchuiChallenge

The ScratchAudio interface and tools were developed using the Microsoft Silverlight platform. Silverlight’s strong developer language combined with multithreading and a low level audio API gave ScratchAudio developers significant performance gains over javascript. Simply put, Silverlight makes ScratchAudio’s online music recording and mixing possible.

All CPU intensive activity for ScratchAudio users takes place on their local client computers. Users select loops from the ScratchAudio loop trove then mix or record music using their own system storage and CPU, which are connected seamlessly to the application interface via Silverlight. Saving a mix pushes it to the ScratchAudio loop trove, where others can collaborate with a wide variety of musical stylings. Success for this functional model requires 2 critical components: upload bandwidth speed and huge amounts of storage.

Most hosting providers offer competitive pricing on RAM and CPU speeds but charge huge sums for disk storage. This pricing model inhibits ScratchAudio growth from the start: they need upload bandwidth for file transfers and massive storage for .wav files, at a workable cost.

Solution

HOSTING worked closely with ScratchAudio to design a managed dedicated solution that would meet their current server requirements while providing the essential storage capacity needed to grow their business. The managed dedicated server is located within HOSTING’s Denver data center. Additionally, HOSTINGagreed to incubate ScratchAudio during their startup phase, allowing ScratchAudio to concentrate their efforts, both creatively and financially, on building a successful business. Says Herbrandson:

“HOSTING, along with the Microsoft BizSpark program, has eliminated our biggest cost—hosting. They’ve freed us up to focus on making ScratchAudio successful. As a startup, it’s incredibly encouraging when companies believe in you enough to help you out.”

Results

ScratchAudio has been live and growing fast since September 2010. Their enrollment in the Microsoft BizSpark program removed what used to be a big problem for startups that wanted to use Microsoft products, namely, the cost of getting started.  HOSTING’s infrastructure provides resources and support for pioneering young companies, and complemented by Microsoft BizSpark, provides a stable foundation for ScratchAudio’s ongoing development.

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