Audius, a decentralized, blockchain-driven streaming music service designed as an alternative to Spotify and SoundCloud, announced today that it has entered the burgeoning non-fungible token ( ) crypto collectibles and artwork space.
However, Audius isn’t selling NFTs. Instead, the platform has launched a Collectibles feature that allows both participating artists and users of a certain level to showcase the NFTs that they already own. According to the site, it’s an opportunity for artists to potentially market NFT collectibles that they are offering for sale, and for users to discover and click through to purchase the digital items.
The Collectibles feature sounds a lot like Mark Cuban’s Lazy.com NFT gallery platform, albeit embedded in a site that is focused on music. However, where there are music-centric NFT projects, Audius can be used to showcase NFTs of all sorts. Audius is currently compatible with NFTs from SuperRare, OpenSea, Zora, Rarible, Foundation, Catalog, and KnownOrigin, with more integrations expected in the near future.
“Audius seeks to be the hub for artist/fan relationships and interactions in the music economy, and given the rise of artists sharing NFTs, this is a logical place to continue to work towards that goal,” co-founder and CEO Roneil Rumburg told Decrypt. “Many Audius artists have shared NFTs with the crypto community, and we saw an opportunity for Audius to bridge that activity back to their fanbases.”
An NFT can represent nearly any digital item, and while many high-profile NFTs have taken the form of tokenized still images, animated GIFs, or videos—each provably scarce with the ability to be authenticated via blockchain technology—there have also been intriguing music-centric projects amidst the recent NFT boom.
For example, popular rock band Kings of Leon launched an NFT version of their most recent album, while EulerBeats—a series of procedurally-generated audio files—have generated millions of dollars to date in both sales and royalties paid to NFT holders. Even Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong is about to release electronic music in the form of NFTs, while well-known musicians such as The Weeknd, Snoop Dogg, and Grimes have sold NFT artwork.
The overall NFT market has surged so far in 2021, including $342 million in trading volume across the top three marketplaces in February alone, and artists and creators of all sorts are eyeing opportunities in the space.
Audius, a service that lets artists share music that is hosted on distributed nodes rather than centralized servers, launched its mainnet service in October 2020 with a livestreamed concert featuring Deadmau5 and RAC. It also dropped 50 million free AUDIO tokens that month, distributed between 10,000 artists and users on the site.
The service most recently raised $1.25 million in an extension round led by Binance Labs, also in October, following a $5.5 million Series A investment round in 2018. The platform has seen a rise in users in recent months, going from approximately 3 million monthly users as of early March to nearly 4.5 million monthly users. according to its analytics page. According to Audius, daily song plays have grown from an average of 44,000 to 245,000 in the last 30 days alone.
Both artists and users alike must hold at least 100 AUDIO tokens—worth about $240 as of this writing—to have Silver Tier accounts and be eligible to use the new Collectibles feature. While this is a first step into NFTs for Audius, Rumburg tells Decrypt that further plans are afoot, with crypto collectibles perhaps serving as a digital analog to the classic band merch.
“Our community is very excited to explore more opportunities for scalable digital merchandise and experiences, which start to look a lot like NFTs in practice,” he said. “The vision for Audius is to be the passport to the music metaverse, and our continued work in this area will follow this thread.”