Blockchain-based SoundCloud alternative Audius Inc. today said it has raised $5.5 million in funding to build out its decentralized, community-owned and artist-controlled music-sharing protocol.
The Series A round was led by General Catalyst and Lightspeed, with participation from Kleiner Perkins, Pantera Capital, 122West and Ascolta Ventures.
Audius is attempting to build a blockchain-based audio distribution system based upon an open protocol operated by a decentralized community of artists, developers and listeners “collaborating to defend the world’s music.” Co-founded by Ranidu Lankage, a Sinhalese pop artist who signed with Sony at the age of 19 but walked away so as to keep control over the music he produces, Audius is focused on allowing artists to connect directly with their fans and distribute content to them without any middlemen.
“The biggest problem in the music industry is that streaming is taking off and artists aren’t necessarily earning a lot of money. And it can take three months, or up to 18 months for unsigned artists, to get paid for streams,” says Lankage. “That’s what crypto really solves. You can pay artists in near real-time and make it fully transparent.”
The platform allows artists to build, nurture and engage with a loyal fan base directly on Audius. A bonus is the ability to back up accounts on a blockchain without the worry of having a third party shutting it down.
Artists are given complete visibility into where, by whom and at what time their content is being streamed. The platform also supports payments, allowing artists to be paid by fans for access as well. One of the first artists on Audius is 3LAU (pictured), an American DJ and electronic dance music producer. 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,” 3LAU said. “It’s a very elegant model and one which, as an artist, I find immensely attractive.”
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