Music streaming

Audius review: test of crypto-based music streaming service

Audius is a San Francisco-based startup offering a decentralized, blockchain-powered digital streaming network with the goal of connecting artists directly to fans. After launching on the mainnet in 2020, the service has reached over 6 million unique users.

The platform also aims to give back control over the distribution and monetization of music to artists, solving long-standing issues with how they are paid on other music streaming platforms.

Unlike other music streaming services like Spotify, Audius does not seek to make a profit in the traditional way. Instead, an open source community of artists, fans and developers are rewarded for their participation with the AUDIO token, with the aim of generating profit as its value increases with the growth of the service. Recent investors include Nas and Katy Perry, who are part of a recent $ 5 million investment round. Not too bad…

Ease of use

Audius is available for free as a web app and as an app on iOS and Android devices. Signing up for the service is quick and easy; enter your email, choose a password and you’re good to go.

Anyone who’s ever used a music streaming service will immediately feel at home, although things can feel a bit ’empty’ if you’re used to the pages and curated playlist pages that incumbent services offer.

One thing that is definitely worth checking out is the aforementioned playlists, which you can access by tapping on the Explore option. The Trends section is also useful for seeing what new content is proving popular. Your enjoyment with the suggested material will of course vary depending on your taste, but browsing the most popular playlists is a decent way to help you get used to the lay of the land, so to speak.

Another feature offered by Audius is the ability to download songs in mp3 format for free. Just hit the “Download” button on a song page and you are good to go.

Design and UX

Audius has a clean, clean design that’s a far cry from services like Spotify, which have become a bit crowded and more difficult to navigate over the years.

Audius can be used as a web application on desktop devices. Image: Audius

The browser and mobile app have a clean, minimal interface that is easy to navigate. Rather, we like the purple colors that are consistent throughout the design scheme – they match the light and dark modes quite well, and there’s an overall feeling that you’re using a new and slightly different service.

Smartphone displaying the Audius app
Audius is also available as a smartphone app. Image: Decrypt

Prices and subscription

At the time of writing, Audius is free, allowing users to listen to high-quality streams at 320kbps without having to fork out a dime. This, of course, means that artists cannot currently make any money either, but that should change in the future.

The company plans to let artists choose whether to force users to listen to commercials occasionally or pay a few dollars a month for a subscription.

Music catalog

As a free service, Audius is closer in spirit to music discovery platforms like Soundcloud than paid music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. Approach it in the spirit it’s meant to be, and you’ll find thousands of new, unsigned artist tracks to whet your appetite.

When it comes to established artists, however, Audius’ catalog is quite limited. Much has been said that artists such as Deadmau5 and Skrillex have embraced the platform, but don’t expect to find their full discographies on Audius; in fact, they only downloaded nine tracks and one track respectively.

Audius screenshot
The majority of content on Audius comes from new and unsigned artists. Image: Audius

The same goes for other big names in Audius, like Weezer, Diplo, Disclosure and Mike Shinoda; their use of the platform extends to experiences and remixes, rather than album tracks and singles.

You might get lucky and find unofficial fan downloads which, while not kosher, technically cannot be removed due to the decentralized nature of the platform, which poses some interesting legal questions. We found Eminem Music to be murdered by downloaded by a random user in its entirety, for example, which is definitely not an official download from a legitimate channel.

It all sounds pretty negative, but let’s stop for a second. It’s best not to think of Audius as a direct replacement for Spotify because, well, Spotify and the other cookie-cutter services that compete with it already exist. There’s no point in trying to use Audius as a direct replacement when there are so many options out there that have all the known performers you could possibly need. Plus, of course, there’s the fact that Audius is free, so you have nothing to lose.

When it comes to the content available, there is a lot. We found ourselves pretty happy to just go through artist and album lists and try different things at random. From Cyberpunk movie soundtracks to a rather relaxing Chill Drive Lo-Fi Hip-Hop album, we’ve come across some enjoyable tracks and albums that we would never have found otherwise.

Reading lists

If you’d rather not spend time skipping between random tracks from new artists, Audius has a handy feature that lets users create and share their own curated playlists. Each week, the five most popular playlists earn AUDIO tokens, providing an incentive to explore and engage with the platform.

Playlist categories include trending playlists, underground trending tracks (the best up-and-coming music on Audius), or even your personal favorite rotating tracks. There’s also a Let Them DJ playlist that features playlists created by the people you follow, and these are just a few examples.

The variety of ways to just dive in and discover new music (some you’ll love, some you won’t, of course), is pretty impressive, if not necessary. All in all, we found ourselves returning to Audius when we got bored of listening to our all too familiar Spotify library, and the novelty was more than welcome.

Social features

One of Audius’ biggest social features is the recently announced possibility for artists to share their tracks directly on TikTok, opening their creations to a potentially massive (and lucrative) new audience.

Audius non-artist users can also use the platform to follow other users. This can be used to help you discover new music, or just see what your friends are listening to (if you can get them to try Audius, of course).

Audio quality

The sound quality of the Audius app is impressive, delivering streaming at 320kbps, the highest quality sound currently available on any free music platform. Paid services like Tidal HiFi and Amazon Music HD offer higher 24-bit streams, but unless you’re an audiophile looking to get the most out of your carefully selected stereo setup, Audius’ streaming quality won’t let you down. will not leave wanting more.

What is AUDIO?

AUDIO is a Ethereum-based ERC-20 token that ensures network security (node ​​operators wagering chips to tie a knot, earn rewards in the process). It also offers exclusive features to artists who choose to stake the coin, letting them, for example, show NFT Collectibles On the platform. AUDIO tokens are also used as part of a governance system that allows staked token holders to vote on any code and global network proposal.

Audius screenshot
AUDIO is the native Audius token. Image: Audius

Tokens can be earned through certain rewards, such as keeping popular weekly playlists or downloading the most popular content in a given week. Artists can also receive an award based on the number of listeners and level of social engagement they have demonstrated. Last year, the platform distributed 50 million AUDIO tokens over 10,000 artists and users.

Verdict

Audius is an interesting concept that is clearly still in its infancy compared to long-established music streaming services such as Spotify. Its biggest problem on paper is the fact that there are so few recognizable artists out there, and the ones you’ve probably heard of, don’t have a lot of uploaded content. From another perspective, however, this is a positive benefit; if you are a trend setter rather than a fashion enthusiast, this is a great way to discover new unsigned artists.

There is also a lot to like about Audius. For starters, it offers quality free streaming, with a quick and easy signup process to get you right into the action. Its apps work well, and the concept of earning awards as an artist or curator is appealing, especially since you don’t need to understand anything about blockchain to get involved.

The best way to think of Audius is as Spotify’s hipster cousin, the one you sometimes see and recommend a ton of bands and artists you’ve never heard of. It’s a refreshing way to dive into the unknown while hopefully discovering a few hidden gems along the way. In a world where the music industry has become very homogenized and commercialized, there is something refreshing about having the opportunity to think outside the box.

Evaluation: 4/5


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