Audius, a decentralised, community-owned music sharing platform billed as the blockchain’s answer to Soundcloud has announced the successful completion of a $5.5 million Series A funding round as it launches the world’s first ever blockchain-based music sharing protocol. Made on August 8, 2018, the announcement revealed that the funding round was led by General Catalyst and Lightspeed, with participation from Kleiner Perkins, Pantera Capital, 122West and Ascolta Ventures
Audius describes itself as “a blockchain-based alternative to SoundCloud to help artists connect directly with fans and monetize their work.” According to its developers, its protocol exists in perpetuity, owned and controlled by a decentralized community of artists, music lovers and developers.
The platform aims to disrupt the traditional music-sharing service model which some criticize for a perceived lack of artist control and transparency. Founder Ranidu Lankage is a Sri Lankan pop artist who is best known for going platinum at 19 with ‘Oba Magemai’, a Sinhalese hip-hop single credited with bringing in a new age of Sinhalese pop music. Following the release of his commercially successful debut album under Sony Records, he chose to go independent so as to maintain control over his work.
As part of his mission to solidify artist control over creative content, Ranidu and fellow cofounders Roneil Rumburg and Forrest Browning decided that blockchain technology had the power to give back control and creative power to artists by fixing the centralization and transparency problem. Audius was the result of this endeavour, and in between working to help artists with technology, Ranidu still finds time for the occasional performance at international events like Coachella and Ultra.
One of the best known success stories spawned by Audius is Electronic Dance Music (EDM) artist 3LAU, who is famous in equal measure for his crytocurrency knowledge and his music. Speaking recently about his thoughts on Audius, he said:
“Artists need decentralized models for music sharing, and a stake in the platforms they contribute content to. Blockchain allows Audius to do this with tokens and decentralized voting-based governance so artists have a say in how the platform evolves. It’s a very elegant model and one which, as an artist, I find immensely attractive.”
Using Audius, artists can connect directly with fans and distribute content to them without the involvement of a middleman. Like SoundCloud, they are able to build, nurture, and engage with their fan base on the platform, but with the key difference being that their accounts are preserved permanently on a blockchain with no risk of a third party shutdown. The platform also gives artists full insight into who is streaming their content, where, and when, all in the midst of transparent, real-time payment.
Audius currently has an advisory team made up of Augur cofounder Jeremy Gardner, EDM superstar 3LAU, Pantera Capital Partner Paul Veradittakit, EA founder Bing Gordon and BitTorrent chief architect Greg Hazel.