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19 août 2008

We7 Anticipates Trouble As It Releases 200,000 Tracks

Story from REDORBIT NEWS, Published: 2008/08/05

We7 ( is an ad-funded music download site, that lets music fans stream or download music for free in return for receiving targeted advertising. The site was co-founded by Peter Gabriel and launched in May 200 7 with a mere 30 tracks; there are now 750,000 tracks available for streaming on the site.

The hosting challenge for We7 is that apart from the paid-for music downloads it offers, the content on its site is dynamic by nature, since each free track that is streamed or downloaded is served with ads targeted at that subscriber. We7 works with a web hosting company called Mythic Beasts, which co-locates at one of the big London Docklands data centres, to ensure it has enough bandwidth available for users accessing its site.

But, more importantly, says Steve Purdham, chief executive of We7, the site was built with performance in mind. "The infrastructure and design of the site has been built to be scalable; the ability to load balance between one set of servers and another had already been put in," he explains.

Even so, when We7 announced a partnership with Sony BMG and the release of an additional 200,000 tracks on its site free to subscribers from 28 April this year, it began testing four weeks ahead of the launch. "The first thing we tried to anticipate was all the different bottlenecks," he recalls.

We7's preparations turned out to be worthwhile. "Our peaks on the launch day were around 40,000 streams, 16,000 previews and 12,500 downloads," he reveals. Despite the testing, We7 did hit a glitch. It turned out to be something very simple to fix. One of the server's operating systems had an embedded file limit that restricted it from opening more than 10.000 files at any one time, and the server went down. But in 15 to 20 seconds, Purdham says it was back up again and only 130 people experienced poor-quality streaming as a result.

His response is pragmatic: "These things are going to happen; what you have to do is anticipate them and have processes in place that capture them."

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