Audius is a cryptocurrency-enabled music streaming protocol that aims to give artists more power over how their music is monetized and allow them to connect directly with fans.
Audius is run by a community of artists, fans and open source developers. It passed more than 5.3 million unique users in July 2021, up from 2.9 million unique users in January 2021.
Users listened to tracks 7.5 million times over the courseof April 2021, the busiest month for Audius so far.
— Audius 🎧 (@AudiusProject) September 30, 2022
What is Audius?
Founded in 2018, Audius is a decentralized music streaming service with a social networking component. It allows artists to upload their songs to the app and connects fans directly to artists and exclusive new music.
On a technical level, it is a blockchain protocol that allows artists to produce immutable, time-stamped records for their creative works, secured by a decentralized network of node operators.
It was originally built on POA Network, an Ethereum sidechain, and then moved parts of its service to the Solana blockchain. Developers can build their own apps on top of Audius, giving them access to a unique audio catalog.
Audius launched its mainnet service in October 2020 with a live-streamed concert featuring deadmau5 and RAC.
Audius received $5 million in investment capital in 2018 from venture capital firms General Catalyst, Lightspeed and Pantera Capital, and $1.25 million in funding from Binance Labs, the venture arm of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume.
How does it work?
Audius works like a music cooperative, with the token aligning incentives among the three constituent groups that make the network work: node operators, artists and fans.
Because Audius is based on blockchain, it operates through a decentralized network of nodes that host content (content nodes) and index that content (discovery nodes).
Being a blockchain project it comes with a cryptocurrency.
The Audius network runs on the Ethereum-based Audius (AUDIO) ERC-20 token ERC-20, which has three functions:
- Network security: node operators bet tokens to run a node and, in return, get rewards from the network.
- Exclusive features: artists get premium features by betting the token, such as displaying NFT crypto-collectibles on the site.
- Governance: staked tokens are required to vote on any and all proposals, which make changes to the code and the network in general.
But you don’t really need any knowledge of blockchain or cryptography to participate in Audius, which partly explains why it’s popular even among those outside the crypto community.
The platform automatically rewards certain achievements with Audius tokens: top 5 weekly trending tracks, top 5 trending tracks, top 5 trending playlists, top 10 API apps, or uploads from those with verified Twitter or Instagram accounts.
Occasionally, the protocol also drops generous amounts of AUDIO tokens on air according to a formula that takes into account not only the number of listens, but also the level of social engagement the artist has shown.
In October 2020, the service distributed a total of 50 million AUDIO tokens among 10,000 artists and users on the platform.
What differentiates Audius from other platforms?
Audius differs from other music streaming services because it is based on blockchain, which determines how everything works.
Artists can upload their tracks at no cost and users can listen to them for free while everyone earns (crypto) money. The model of governing a music streaming service as a whole is a unique aspect that also works with blockchain. The most popular decentralized apps (Dapps): from DeFi to games.
It is impossible to navigate today’s crypto space without encountering decentralized apps or dapps. Just like regular apps, dapps have a wide range of use cases: there are financial services
What can I listen to on Audius?
It’s an independent platform, but major label artists are also welcome. There are just over 100,000 artists on Audius, including relatively well-known names like Skrillex, Weezer, deadmau5, Russ, Mike Shinoda, Diplo, Madeintyo, Odesza, Disclosure, Alina Baraz and Wuki.
Generally, artists start with one or two tracks and then expand as they get positive feedback from fans on the platform. Some big names like Mr. Carmack uploaded most of their historical content, a total of 169 tracks.
Another Audius feature that is normally rare in the industry is collaborations between artists and fans through remix contests, leading to even more experimental tracks to enjoy.
In August 2021, Audius was chosen as one of TikTok’s partners for its Sound Kit functionality, which enables the transfer of songs to its platform.
Seventy-five percent of TikTok users in the United States say they use the app as a means of discovering new music, which is likely also true for its global global user base of 730 million.
The recent partnership with TikTok may make the protocol even more attractive to established artists who want exposure to TikTok’s crazy virality.
The Audius music streaming service isn’t much like SoundCloud or Spotify: it’s a completely decentralized service built on a blockchain network.
Audius co-founder Rumburg confirmed that the protocol is working on more plans similar to its partnership with TikTok.
“The TikTok integration is exciting and points to what’s next. Audius will continue to [expand] the scope of the toolchain available to help artists grow their following in the most effective way possible, and better utilize or monetize their relationships with fans,” he said.
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