San Francisco-based Blockchain-enabled music streaming service Audius has come a long way in a very short space of time.
Launched in late 2019, Audius already counts over 6 million monthly users, up from 5m last month. It also inked a partnership with TikTok in August, becoming the first music streaming service to do so.
Now, the firm has announced a new $5 million round of strategic funding, and its list of investors is as impressive as its MAU growth. The round was joined by industry heavyweights including Maverick Founder Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, SESAC‘s John Josephson, and former Sony Music Publishing (then Sony/ATV) boss Martin Bandier.
The company’s new investors also include artists like The Chainsmokers, Katy Perry, Nas, Steve Aoki, Jason Derulo, who alongside Josephson, Bandier and Oseary, join the likes of Hitco‘s Charles Goldstuck and Three Six Zero founder Mark Gillespie on a star-studded list of backers.
This latest investment was originated by Blockchange Ventures, an early stage blockchain venture fund, which has made over eighty investments in the space and manages over $1 billion in assets.
MBW has confirmed that that Audius’s latest funding round brings the firm’s total raised, to date, to $15 million.
Audius’s full list of strategic investors includes Katy Perry, Nas, The Chainsmokers, Jason Derulo, Pusha T, Steve Aoki, Mike Shinoda, Disclosure, Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, Martin Bandier, Michael Kives, Charles Goldstuck, Austin Rosen’s Electric Feel Ventures, Mark Gillespie, John Josephson, Matt Colon and Tom Windish.
The platform, which claims to be “the largest decentralized consumer product on earth and the fastest-growing streaming platform outright”, says that it is “owned and run by artists, fans, and developers”.
In a white paper published in October 2020, and co-written by CEO Roneil Rumburg, the authors explain how:
The platform, according to the white paper, is a “fully decentralized music streaming protocol built with public blockchain infrastructure and other decentralized technologies”.
It adds: “Audius allows artists to distribute to and get paid directly from their fans” by using an “efficient token economy powered by the Audius platform token ($AUDIO), 3rd-party stablecoins, and artist tokens”.
Other components the platform is comprised of include, “a decentralized storage solution and ledger for sharing audio and metadata” and “a decentralized governance protocol, whereby artists, node operators, and fans are individually and collectively enfranchised in decision making about protocol changes and upgrades”.
Clever stuff – and in addition to impressing and winning the backing of some of the music industry’s biggest artists and executives, it has already seen music uploaded to its platform by artists such as Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park (who is also a strategic investor), as well as Russ, Diplo, Skrillex, MadeinTyo, Deadmau5.
Over 100,000 other artists have uploaded music to the site.
“WE WANT TO SERVE ARTISTS OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES.”
Speaking to MBW (see full interview below), Audius’s Rumburg explains that “independent artists have been faster to adopt” the platform, but adds that “there are signed folks engaging today too”.
“We want to serve artists of all shapes and sizes,” he adds. “All artists are welcome to join the Audius ecosystem.”
When MBW interviewed Rumburg in January, we asked him if securing major label licensing deals was something the platform wanted to do in future.
He told us: “We would be very open to it but because we don’t set terms on Audius, that’s almost like taking a step back.
“Our company is not here defining what the streaming rate is so what would a licensing deal look like? It’s not really something that I think makes sense from the traditional angle and deal structures”.
“WE GOT OUR START SHARING MUSIC DIRECTLY WITH FANS AND SO WE ARE REALLY ALIGNED WITH THE WAY AUDIUS USES THE BLOCKCHAIN TO ENHANCE THE ARTIST-FAN RELATIONSHIP.”
The Chainsmokers said: “We got our start sharing music directly with fans and so we are really aligned with the way Audius uses the blockchain to enhance the artist-fan relationship.
“We plan to upload the stuff we play live, which we wouldn’t typically share on traditional music platforms. It’s a purer alternative to the more polished album rollouts that we will continue to deliver. As an artist it’s empowering to share different creative choices and to test stuff out in a lower-stakes environment.
“Additionally, for us the role of developing a community around our music has always allowed us to grow and motivated us to take risks. Audius continues to empower the artists and their community to seek freedom in all aspects of their art as the music business hopefully shifts more in favor of the artists fueling the economy.”
“EVERYONE WHO UPLOADS TO AUDIUS CAN BE AN OWNER, YOU CAN’T SAY THAT ABOUT ANY OTHER PLATFORM.”
Nas said: “I’ve known that blockchain will change the world since I invested in Coinbase five years ago and I believe it might be the most important technology to ever hit the music industry.
“Everyone who uploads to Audius can be an owner, you can’t say that about any other platform.”
Here, MBW asks Audius CEO Roneil Rumburg about the new funding, the new investors and forecast for the rest of the year…
WHAT WILL THIS FUNDING BE USED FOR?
“This [new funding] will be used to support the ongoing work of the Open Audio Foundation at the center of the Audius ecosystem, which includes supporting teams building on top of the network, helping to raise awareness about artists in the ecosystem, helping to steward the mission of the broader project, and much more.
THIS ROUND HAS ATTRACTED HEAVYWEIGHT MUSIC INDUSTRY FIGURES LIKE MARTIN BANDIER AND JOHN JOSEPHSON – WHAT DOES THEIR BACKING SAY ABOUT AUDIUS’S POSITION AND POTENTIAL IN THE MARKET?
We believe it indicates: 1. that the market for decentralized music products is real and has the potential to be very large, and 2. there is consensus among much of the music industry that Audius is the frontrunner in this new emerging market.
IN THE PRESS RELEASE IT STATES THAT AUDIUS “IS NOW THE LARGEST DECENTRALIZED CONSUMER PRODUCT ON EARTH AND THE FASTEST-GROWING STREAMING PLATFORM OUTRIGHT” – COULD YOU SHED SOME LIGHT ON THESE TWO POINTS?
As far as we are aware, there are no other decentralized consumer products serving a greater number of users than 6mm. We also believe our recent growth of 30-40% per month makes us the fastest-growing streaming product in music.
AUDIUS’S MAUS ARE GROWING PRETTY FAST – 1M IN JANUARY. 5M LAST MONTH AND IT NOW STANDS AT 6M. TELL US ABOUT THIS GROWTH AND WHAT IS YOUR MAU FORECAST FOR THE END OF THE YEAR?
We are so proud of everything the Audius community has accomplished to date, and have been awe-struck by the magnitude of support we have gained from existing creator and fan communities.
We’ve learned not to try to predict future growth – every prediction we’ve made has been wrong to date! Audius follows the will of the community.
AUDIUS RECENTLY PARTNERED WITH TIKTOK. A MONTH ON FROM THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THAT PARTNERSHIP, CAN YOU SHED ANY LIGHT ON THE IMPACT THAT IT’S HAD ON YOUR USER NUMBERS, ARTIST NUMBERS, OR TRACKS UPLOADED?
It’s hard to separate out the causes of changes in top-line metrics, but we did see a noticeable inflection in all these areas post the launch of that feature. You can see more of our metrics over time here.