Audius Review: Testing The Crypto-Powered Music Streaming Service

Audius is a San Francisco-based startup offering a decentralized blockchain-powered digital streaming network, with the aim of connecting artists directly to fans. Following its mainnet launch in 2020, the service has reached more than 6 million unique users. 

The platform also aims to hand control over music distribution and monetization back to the artists, addressing long-standing issues over how they’re compensated on other music streaming platforms.  

Unlike other music streaming services like Spotify, Audius isn’t looking to make a profit in a traditional way. Instead, an open-source community of artists, fans and developers are rewarded for participation with the AUDIO token, with a view to turning a profit as its value increases with the growth of the service. Recent investors include the likes of Nas and Katy Perry, who are part of a recent $5 million investment round. Not too shabby…

Ease of use

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

Anyone who’s used a music streaming service before will immediately feel right at home, though things might feel a little ‘empty’ if you’re used to the pages and pages of curated playlists offered by incumbent services. 

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

Another feature that Audius also offers is the ability to download songs as mp3s for free. Just hit the ‘Download button’ on a song’s page, and you’re good to go.

Design and UX

Audius has a streamlined, stripped-back design that’s a far cry from the likes of services like Spotify, which have grown a little cluttered and harder to navigate over the years. 

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

Both the browser and mobile app have a clean, minimal interface that’s easy to navigate. We rather like the coherent purple colours throughout the design scheme—it matches both the light and dark mode rather nicely, and there’s an overall feeling that you’re using a service that’s new, and a little bit different. 

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

Pricing and subscription

At the time of writing, Audius is free, letting users listen to high-quality 320kbps streams without them having to pay a penny. That, of course, means that artists can’t currently make any money on it either, but that’s set to change in future.

The company has plans to let artists opt into requiring users to occasionally listen to ads or pay a few dollars a month for a subscription. 

Music catalogue

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

When it comes to established artists, however, Audius’ catalogue is, well, limited. Much has been made of the fact that artists such as Deadmau5 and Skrillex have embraced the platform, but don’t expect to find their full discographies on Audius; indeed, they only have nine tracks and a single track uploaded, respectively.

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

The same is true of other big names on Audius, like Weezer, Diplo, Disclosure and Mike Shinoda; their use of the platform stretches to experiments and remixes, rather than album tracks and singles.

You might get lucky and find unofficial fan uploads which, while not kosher, technically can’t be removed due to the decentralized nature of the platform—which poses some interesting legal questions. We found Eminem’s Music to be Murdered By uploaded by a random user in its entirety, for example, which definitely isn’t an official upload from a legit channel.

That all sounds rather negative, but let’s pause a second. It’s best not to approach Audius as a straight-up Spotify replacement because, well, Spotify, and the other cookie-cutter services that compete with it, already exist. There’s not much point trying to use Audius as a direct replacement when there are so many existing options out there that have all the known artists you could possibly ever need. Plus, of course, there’s the fact that Audius is free, so you’ve got nothing to lose. 

When it comes to the content that is available, there’s plenty of it. We found ourselves rather enjoying just clicking through top artist and album lists and trying out different things at random. From Cyberpunk movie soundtracks to a rather relaxing Chill Drive Lo-Fi Hip-Hop album, we’ve come across enjoyable tracks and albums that we otherwise would never have found.


If you’d rather not spend the time skipping between random tracks from new artists, Audius offers a handy feature which lets users create and share their own curated playlists. Each week, the five most popular playlists win AUDIO tokens, providing an incentive for discovery and engagement with the platform.

Playlist categories include the overall top trending playlists, underground trending tracks (the best up-and-coming music on Audius), or even your personal favourite tracks on rotation. There’s also a Let Them DJ playlist which serves up playlists created by the people you follow, and those are just a few examples. 

The variety of ways in which to simply dive in and discover new music (some you’ll love, some you won’t, natch), is pretty impressive, not to mention, necessary. Overall we found ourselves returning to Audius when we got bored of listening to our overly familiar Spotify library, and the novelty was more than welcome. 

Social features

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

Non-artist Audius 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 convince them to give Audius a try, that is).

Audio quality

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

What is AUDIO?

AUDIO is an Ethereum-based ERC-20 token which provides network security (node operators stake tokens to run a node, earning rewards in the process). It also provides exclusive features for artists that choose to stake the coin, letting them, for example, show off NFT collectibles on the platform. AUDIO tokens are also used as part of a governance system that lets holders of staked tokens vote on any proposals to the code and overall network.

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

Tokens can be earned via certain rewards, such as curating popular weekly playlists, or uploading the most popular content in a given week. Artists can also receive a reward based on the number of listens and the level of social engagement they’ve shown. Last year the platform dished out 50 million AUDIO tokens across 10,000 artists and users.


Audius is an interesting concept that’s 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 recognisable artists on there, and the ones that you will likely have heard of, don’t have much content uploaded. From another perspective, though, that’s a positive advantage; if you’re a trendsetter rather than a follower of fashion, it’s a great way to discover new and unsigned artists.

There’s a lot to like about Audius, too. For starters, it offers quality, free streaming, with a quick and easy sign-up process to jump you straight into the action. Its apps work well, and the concept of earning rewards as either an artist or a curator is an appealing one, especially as you don’t need to understand anything about blockchain to get involved. 

The best way to think about Audius is as Spotify’s hipster cousin—the one that you occasionally see who recommends a ton of bands and artists you’ve never heard of. It’s a refreshing way to dive into the unknown while hopefully discovering some hidden gems along the way. In a world where the music industry’s become very homogenized and commercialized, there’s something refreshing about having an opportunity to go off the beaten path.

Rating: 4/5


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Katy Perry, Nas, Jason Derulo Invest in Crypto Music Platform Audius

In brief

  • Crypto streaming music service Audius has raised $5 million in new funding.
  • The investment round includes artists such as Katy Perry, Nas, Pusha T, and more.

The cryptocurrency-driven music service Audius aims to offer a hybrid of streaming giant Spotify and sharing platform Soundcloud, and its star has risen in recent months via integration with TikTok and new NFT features.

Now popular musicians including Katy Perry, Nas, and others have officially come onboard via a new investment round.

Today, Audius—which claims to have six million monthly active users—announced a star-studded $5 million round headlined by a number of prominent musicians, with Steve Aoki, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, Jason Derulo, Disclosure, The Chainsmokers, and Pusha T joining the aforementioned artists.

Many of those artists have already taken steps within the crypto industry. Shinoda, for example, already uses Audius to showcase his NFT collectibles (alongside Disclosure), and has released his own NFTs to fans. Rapper Nas was an early Coinbase investor, The Chainsmokers have invested in various crypto startups, and Derulo is an investor in licensed NFT startup Recur.

“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,” said Nas, in a release. “Everyone who uploads to Audius can be an owner, you can’t say that about any other platform.”

Sound Ventures, the VC firm founded by Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, also participated in this round, alongside former Sony Music CEO Martin Bandier and other music industry investors. All told, Audius has now raised $14.85 million in disclosed funding across multiple rounds since 2018.

Audius acts like a music co-op of sorts, with decentralized network model in which users can earn AUDIO crypto token rewards for supporting the network. Songs uploaded to the service also have a timestamped record of origin, since it’s all done on a blockchain.

Audius was founded on Ethereum via a sidechain called POA Network, but has also recently implemented blockchain network Solana as well. The platform includes a social networking component, as well, and lets users display their NFT collections—initially with Ethereum-based NFTs last spring, and just recently with Solana NFTs as well.

In August, Audius’ AUDIO token nearly doubled in value within a day on the back of a newly-announced integration with social video-sharing app, TikTok. Audius was the first to utilize TikTok’s Sound Kit functionality to enable the seamless transfer of songs into the social app.

AUDIO is up 23% over the last 24 hours, per CoinGecko, to a current price of $2.69.


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What is Audius? The Decentralized Music Sharing and Streaming Service

In brief

  • Audius is a blockchain-powered, decentralized music streaming service with social media features.
  • It’s owned and run by an open-source community of artists, fans, and developers, and has its own crypto token, AUDIO.

Music streaming services have over 400 million subscribers worldwide between them, and raked in over $13 billion in revenue last year. But critics of the industry claim that artists are being unfairly compensated for their work, with musicians and politicians alike claiming that performers and songwriters are “losing out.”

That’s where Audius comes in. It’s a crypto-powered music sharing and streaming protocol that aims to give artists more power over how their music is monetized and enable them to connect directly with fans.

One of the largest non-financial crypto applications, Audius is owned and run by an open-source community of artists, fans, and developers. It passed more than 5.3 million unique users in July 2021, jumping from 2.9 million unique users in January 2021. Users listened to tracks 7.5 million times over the course of April 2021, the busiest month for Audius so far.

It’s powered by AUDIO, the protocol’s governance token, with a market cap of $1.2 billion as of August 2021.

So what makes this project so different from any other music streaming platform?

What is Audius?

Founded in 2018, Audius is a decentralized music streaming service with a social media component. It lets artists upload their tunes to the app and connects fans directly with artists and exclusive new music.

On a technical level, it’s a blockchain protocol that lets artists produce immutable and timestamped records for their creative works, secured by a decentralized network of node operators.

It was originally built on POA Network, an Ethereum sidechain, and later moved parts of its service to the Solana blockchain. Developers can build their own apps on top of Audius, giving them access to a unique audio catalog.

Audius launched its mainnet service in October 2020 with a livestreamed concert featuring deadmau5 and RAC.

But unlike most other blockchain projects, it doesn’t suffer from the problem of being so technical that anyone who isn’t that into crypto is automatically left out. “Users aren’t going to use our things if they are so much harder to use than Google, Facebook, SoundCloud, Steam, or whatever it is,” co-founder Roneil Rumburg told Decrypt in 2019.

Audius received $5 million in investment capital in 2018 from VC firms General Catalyst, Lightspeed, and Pantera Capital, and $1.25 million in funding from Binance Labs, the venture arm of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume.

How Does Audius Work?

Audius functions like a music co-op, with the token aligning incentives across the three constituent groups that make the network work: node operators, artists, and fans.

Since Audius is based on blockchain, it operates through a decentralized network of nodes that host content (content nodes) and index that content (discovery nodes).

And of course, as a blockchain project, it comes with a cryptocurrency.

The Audius network is powered by the Ethereum-based ERC-20 token Audius (AUDIO), which serves three functions:

  • 🔐 Network security – node operators stake tokens to run a node and, in return, earn rewards from the network.
  • 🏆 Exclusive features – artists get premium features by staking the token, such as such as displaying NFT crypto collectibles on the site​​.
  • 🗳️ Governance – staked tokens are required to vote on any and all proposals, which make changes to code and the overall network.

But no knowledge of blockchain or crypto is really necessary to participate in Audius, which partly explains why it’s popular even among those outside the crypto community.

The platform automatically rewards certain achievements with AUDIO tokens: top 5 weekly trending tracks, top 5 trending tracks, top 5 trending playlists, top 10 API apps, or uploads by those with verified Twitter or Instagram accounts.

Occasionally, the protocol also airdrops generous amounts of AUDIO tokens based on a formula that takes into account not only the number of listens but also the level of social engagement the artist has displayed. In October 2020, the service distributed a total of 50 million AUDIO tokens between 10,000 artists and users on the platform.

The protocol has yet to work out a more regular and consistent monetization policy consistent with its plans to distribute 90% of the token supply to its artists.

AUDIO tokens are listed and can be traded for other crypto on a number of exchanges including Binance, FTX, and the decentralized exchange (DEX) Uniswap.

What’s So Special About Audius?

Audius differs from other music streaming services because it’s blockchain-based, which shapes how the whole thing works.

Artists can upload their tracks at no cost and users can listen to them for free while everyone earns (crypto) money.

The model of governing a music streaming service together is a unique aspect that’s also powered by blockchain.

There’s no vetting process to get started as an artist, so you can immediately upload your own tracks. Just click “Upload Track” after signing up for free, and drop your music and artwork files. It offers streaming at 320kbps—comparable to Spotify and Google Play Music, albeit not up to the 24bit standard of Tidal HiFi and Amazon Music HD.

Since Audius content is distributed across decentralized nodes, copyright protection cannot be enforced at the moment. But the protocol is currently developing an arbitration system consisting of community members who will decide whether to remove certain content.

Audius’ lack of centralized control also means it provides a safe venue for artists from oppressive regimes who use music as a means of dissent and protest.

Many big-name artists treat Audius as a place to experiment or share tracks that wouldn’t go on other platforms such as works in progress (“WIPs”), weekend beats, long-form sets, or even just more diverse content than what they feel comfortable putting in other places.

What can I listen to on Audius?

At its core, it’s mostly an indie platform. But major-label artists are also welcome.

There are just over 100,000 artists on Audius, including relatively well-known names like Skrillex, Weezer, deadmau5, Russ, Mike Shinoda, Diplo, Madeintyo, Odesza, Disclosure, Alina Baraz, and Wuki.

Generally, artists start with one or two tracks and later expand as they get positive feedback from fans on the platform. Some big names like Mr. Carmack uploaded most of their historical content, a total of 169 tracks.

Another feature of Audius that’s normally uncommon in the industry is artist-fan collaborations through remix competitions, which leads to even more experimental tracks to enjoy.

The future

In August 2021, Audius was chosen as one of TikTok’s partners for its Sound Kit functionality, which allows for song transfers onto its platform. 75% of TikTok users in the United States say that they use the app as a means of discovering new music, which likely also holds true for its overall global user base of 730 million.

The recent partnership with TikTok may make the protocol even more attractive to established artists who want exposure to TikTok’s insane virality.

Audius’ co-founder Rumburg confirmed to Decrypt that the protocol’s working on more plans similar to its TikTok partnership. “The TikTok integration is exciting, and points towards what’s next. Audius will continue to [expand] the scope of the toolchain available to help artists to grow their following as effectively as possible, and better utilize or monetize their relationships with fans,” he said.

And if Audius continues to gain traction, it’s likely to lead to the blossoming of similar projects. So far other blockchain-based music projects include Songcamp, Catalog, and the Song That Owns Itself.


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Audius Token Up By Over 90% Following TikTok Partnership

In brief

  • AUDIO’s price doubled in less than a day after decentralized music streaming platform Audius teamed up with TikTok.
  • The new feature allows Audius artists to bring their tracks to TikTok with just one click.

The price of AUDIO, the native token of decentralized music streaming service Audius, has exploded by over 90% on the heels of the platform’s integration into social media giant TikTok.

At the time of writing, AUDIO was trading at around $3.32, according to crypto metrics platform Nomics. Notably, the token’s current price is roughly 30% away from its all-time high of $4.95, recorded on March 27.

The surge occurred after Audius announced a partnership with TikTok yesterday, giving its artists exposure to the social media platform’s 732 million active monthly users.

The integration makes Audius one of the first partners of the media giant’s Sound Kit SDK, which enables creators and artists to “seamlessly bring original sounds and music from third-party apps into the TikTok ecosystem.”

The new feature allows Audius artists to bring their tracks to TikTok so that users can easily add them to their videos.

“The workflow for getting songs into TikTok is fairly cumbersome today. To avoid it, some artists even resort to holding their phone up to their laptop’s speakers to re-record the sound for TikTok. With the Audius integration, artists who have content on Audius are able to push it into TikTok with one click,” Roneil Rumburg, Audius co-founder and CEO, told Decrypt yesterday.

Among the artists who have already joined Audius are popular musicians such as Skrillex, Deadmau5, The Stafford Brothers, 3LAU, Alina Baraz, and others. For many of them, it’s not their first foray into the crypto world.

For example, Deadmau5 has been active in the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) sphere over the past months. Last December, he launched $100,000 worth of NFT collectibles in partnership with Worldwide Asset eXchange. 

In another instance, the artist teamed up with Mythical Games and its NFT-centric free-to-play game Blankos Block Party.


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