By Sarah Mauet
Crowd Audio hasn’t missed a beat since the McGuire New Venture Competition and Showcase in April where it won Best in Class and a Hive award granting the team six months of workspace rent-free in the 1 East Toole Avenue Hive. Since then, they launched the startup, surpassed their goal in a crowdfunding campaign and won third place and $1,500 in the Rocket Pitch Competition at IdeaFunding.
“We went to IdeaFunding to raise awareness of our business and our crowdfunding campaign, so winning third place was a pleasant surprise,” Co-Founder Björgvin Benediktsson said of the entrepreneurship education and networking event that took place in Tucson Oct. 24.
Crowd Audio, co-founded by Benediktsson and fellow 2013 McGuire Program graduates Alex von Bieberstein and Chris Fraioli, is a new web platform that revolutionizes the way musicians and audio engineers worldwide interact online. With its unique competition model, Crowd Audio helps produce high-quality music for musicians while giving engineers an avenue to earn money, gain exposure and improve their skills.
“We started Crowd Audio to change the way music is produced,” said Benediktsson, a musician and audio engineer who has worked in the music industry since 2006. “There are many talented musicians and engineers out there who don’t get the exposure they deserve. There are great engineers in small towns and other countries that lend a unique character to the music they produce, and bands wouldn’t get the opportunity to explore those options without an international online platform like Crowd Audio.”
A musician uploads a song to the Crowd Audio site and multiple audio engineers compete to mix the track. On average, 15 engineers compete, but that number is increasing steadily, Benediktsson said, and more recent competitions have around 30 participants. When the contest is over, the musician picks a favorite mix and works with the winning engineer to perfect the songs before paying the engineer. The musician can then share the professionally produced song with the world.
“Not everyone has access to a bustling local music community, but anyone can use the Crowd Audio site to get access to different genres of music and people across the world,” Benediktsson said.
Crowd Audio has already worked with diverse musicians from across the nation as well as from far-flung locales in Switzerland, France and the UK. Engineers from as far as Spain, Malaysia, Finland and Iceland have competed.
“This sounds a lot better than any mix of this song that I could have produced on my own,” said Rory McMillan, a musician from Knoxville, Tennessee who recently used Crowd Audio.
The Crowd Audio trio is currently working with a developer to produce a Beta website to expand its online platform and accommodate its growing community of musicians and audio engineers. The crowdfunding campaign, which ended Nov. 2, raised $11,433, surpassing the startup’s $10,500 goal. The funds will be used for a full site build out with a more user friendly interface, built in audio player, easier uploads and automated contests – all of which is necessary to allow the business to scale and focus on marketing, Benediktsson said.
“We have a fairly disruptive business model,” he said. “We’re trying something new in a stale and fragmented industry. We want to change the way music is produced and introduce people around the world to opportunities to collaborate and make music.”
Top photo: the co-founders of Crowd Audio, Alex von Bieberstein, Björgvin Benediktsson and Chris Fraioli, behind their office at Hive. Photo by Jonathan Ziegler.