Audius has raised a $5.5 million to use blockchain and cryptocurrency to assure that artists are paid fairly. It's a pitch made repeatedly by numerous startups in recent months, but Audius now has the capital to actually move this game-changing concept forward.
Music tech startup Audius has raised a $5.5 million Series A funding round led by General Catalyst and Lightspeed, with participation from Kleiner Perkins, Pantera Capital, 122West and Ascolta Ventures.
What is Audius?
Audius is building a decentralized, community-owned and artist-controlled music sharing protocol. Think of it as a SoundCloud-like open protocol offering artists blockchain based music attribution, distribution and monetization for their content.
The Audius team views SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube and other music platforms, as well as, social media as perpetuating many of the same evils attributed to old school records labels: unfair payments, closed databases and an ever-changing rulebook.
"Presently, centralized music sharing platforms hoard user data in locked up databases," according Audius. "This results in a minority arbitrarily controlling the music distribution for the majority. As both creators and fans, we want to see a world in which all data is openly accessible to all artists, providing a true equality of opportunity and letting the music speak for itself."
Audius co-founder and CEO Ranidu is a platinum-selling Sri Lankan Pop artist and DJ, formerly signed to Sony. His lense is "15 years of building fan bases on platforms that come and go, change the rules, and don’t have fair compensation models for artists." In response, Audius promises to improves existing music platforms in three ways:
"Platforms such as Myspace, Youtube, SoundCloud have all changed the rules on creators many times and we have seen artists lose their followings, views, and revenue streams again and again. We want Artists to create their following on a platform that will exist forever — regardless of the health of the company that runs it. This is the promise of the community ownership that blockchain based platforms like Audius brings."
2) Artist Control
"Artists have never had control over the platforms where they contributed content. We at Audius believe artists should have the power to vote on changes to the Audius protocol, including issues like content distribution and monetization structure. By creating a community-owned level playing field for artists, everyone wins."
3) Transparent Payments
"Artist payments on centralized platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud are slow and opaque. It takes anywhere from a month (for a fully independent artist) to 18 months (for a major label artist) to get paid for streams today. We can change this by using a blockchain-based public ledger to make near-instant, fully-transparent payments."
Clearly, these are ambitious and even audacious goals. But they could reshape how artists monetize music and connect with fans, as well as, the entire music industry. We will be following Audius closely.