In August, Highwinds began offering CDN services for digital music platform Loudr, including their popular Bundle Dragon music and game bundles. Loudr, winner of the SF MusicTech 2013 Notable Startup Award, is led by Chris Crawford, CEO, Josh Whelchel, CTO and Jesse Buddington, Director of Communications.

This week we had a chance to rap with the team behind the company that AngelList is calling one of the 10 hottest startups in the U.S. about their move to Highwinds CDN, the issues they had previously with Amazon Web Services and how they’re hoping to preserve the value of digital art.

Dragons, Indie Music and How Loudr Graduated From AWS to Highwinds CDN

Customer Q&A: Loudr & Bundle Dragon

Highwinds: Dragons fighting battles and empowering music creativity sounds fun and rewarding but for those unfamiliar with Loudr and Bundle Dragon, can you give us the scoop on how each service works to serve its customers?

Jesse BuddingtonJesse: Absolutely. Bundle Dragon is an open platform that we built based on the success of curated digital bundles like the Humble Indie Bundle and the Game Music Bundle. Bundling is a relatively new way to experience digital content – it’s one part marketing, one part sales. The cool thing is that it allows artists to collaborate together and mutually benefit one another. Fans win, too, by getting a lot of content for a steal. Bundle Dragon essentially takes this super-successful idea and enables people with no programming experience (or no free time!) to set up and launch their own bundles within minutes.

Loudr is a pay-what-you-want music platform that incorporates some of Bundle Dragon’s best features (like collaboration, multiple download formats, and of course bundling!) We’re all musicians ourselves, so we’re especially passionate about building a platform that solves the problems our friends are having with their own digital distributions – things like splitting revenue and paying collaborators, helping new fans discover their content, and cover song licensing.

Highwinds: What’s hot right now and what keeps customers coming back to your sites?

Chris CrawfordChris: We believe that all digital content has value. We also believe everyone values content differently. If you look at the predominant economic models around digital media, there’s the fixed “a-la-cart” pricing and the “all-you-can-eat” subscription. One of the most appealing parts of our platforms is the ability to choose your own price. What we’ve found is 80 percent of our customers choose to give more. Some of the reasons for this include unlocking additional content, having your name listed on the leaderboard and empowering artists that they value to continue releasing content.

Highwinds: Uninhibited fanaticism for music and gaming appears to be a common thread among your team members. Do what you love, love what you do, right? Tell us how that passion has fueled your growth and success.

Jesse: Well, for one thing, it helps make the long hours and late nights easier when you’re doing something you love – and something that you feel will truly change the landscape of digital content for the better. As artists, we KNOW how much work goes into that MP3 that gets sold for 99¢, and we want to offer people a window into that world – and encourage them to contribute based on their personal value of that process. By connecting fans directly to artists, allowing them to learn more about the artist’s story and helping highlight their contributions as a fundamental part of that story, we’ve found an effective way to preserve the value of digital art, even in the age of piracy. And that’s something we’re really, really excited about.

Highwinds: OK, now let’s talk shop, well, at least for a little bit. Before you started using Highwinds CDN, you were using Amazon Web Services for content delivery. When did you know it was time to make a decision to switch to Highwinds CDN and what drove that decision?

Josh WhelchelJosh: We saw issues early on with speed reductions on Amazon S3 – many of our customers (especially our European and Asian fans) were seeing downloads as slow as a dial-up modem (remember those?)!

Highwinds provides us with a globally immersive content delivery network, making sure that our customers overseas have the best experience possible.

Highwinds: Taking that one step further, how easy was it for you to make the switch from AWS to Highwinds CDN? Can you share what your overall experience has been like?

Josh: Switching to Highwinds CDN was extremely simple – it was simply a matter of using our S3 storage as the origin for content delivery. This was trivial, and now we have the freedom to migrate our storage elsewhere.

Highwinds: In the end, what made Highwinds the right partner for you?

Josh: Amazing, quick and friendly customer support – in addition to having a powerful service and incredibly useful (and easy to navigate) API.

Oh, and we save a lot of money. That’s always a plus.

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