Image Credit: Audius

Find out more about free music streaming platform Audius. Does the future of music streaming lie in blockchain technology?

Audius is an independent decentralised music streaming service that uses blockchain technology. It’s free to sign up as a listener, and free to upload music.

The platform was designed to connect artists directly to their fans. It’s an artist-focused space where unsigned artists can upload their own tracks – sort of like a blockchain SoundCloud.

How does Audius work?

Within one free platform, artists can share their music and build a fanbase of listeners keen to discover new up-and-coming artists. The company emerged in 2019, based in San Francisco, and quickly gained interest from Silicon Valley with investors subsequently raising $10 million.

Ethereum-based Audius works a little differently to other streaming sites. It offers unlimited uploads and a unique decentralised platform with the idea that artists gain revenue in the form of cryptocurrency. There’s no middleman, and the platform doesn’t have the power to delete or edit songs.

The company claims to give artists a better seat at the table, with an ultimate aim of letting them control their revenues and relationship with their fans, something it says is missing from other platforms where independent artists are low on the pecking order beneath big labels and famous acts. An intriguing prospect for musicians and producers – if you can get your head around the crypto side of things.

How do I upload to Audius?

Once you’ve created an account, uploading music to Audius is as simple as dragging-and-dropping a track to the Upload Track page on the desktop website or desktop app.

Audius hosts 450,000 tracks from over 100,000 artists, and has nearly 5 million monthly active users. Weezer, Skrillex and Linkin Park have music on the platform.

Boasting that its audio quality is the highest of any free streaming service, Audius focuses on the community around artists. There are music production contests to enter, too – artists can run remix competitions direct from their artist page.

Can musicians make money on Audius?

Artists are still waiting for a monetisation plan to roll out on the platform. As a company, Audius isn’t there to make a profit – investors invest in its $AUDIO token. Holding $AUDIO gives users partial ownership of the Audius platform and special features.

When music is uploaded to Audius, it’s not hosted by the platform but by independent node operators. Node operators are rewarded with Audius crypto currency as an incentive. Last October Audius distributed $8 million in crypto tokens to the top listeners and creators on the platform, potentially worth a lot in the future and also giving them the power to vote on issues over the governance of the platform.

The company is growing its monetisation programme, with plans to launch a paid version of the site. Under the proposed model mode operators would keep 10% of revenue from streams, and the artist or rightsholder keeping the other 90%, in the form of $AUDIO.

Potential plans include letting artists on Audius set a rate for their work, rather than a set streaming rate – for example, allowing content to be unlocked after a one cent payment. There’s other opportunities like setting up fan clubs within Audius for listeners to pay a monthly subscription for exclusive content, much like Patreon.

Is Audius the future of music streaming?

Blockchain technology potentially offers benefits for artists such as a potential end to wait times for revenue payouts. Artists could be paid within seconds, penny by penny, each time a listener streams a track.

With exclusive music premieres from the likes of Weezer, Audius is making increasing moves into the mainstream. Audius could set the bar for the future of music streaming – if musicians and producers can get their heads around the techy aspects of its setup, and get onboard early to start building an audience on the platform.