Audius, a blockchain-based streaming and hosting protocol that its founders refer to as "Soundcloud on the blockchain," has signed up six new advisors from various sectors of the music business following a recent $5.5 million series A funding round. Those advisors include Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels; Twitch co-founder Justin Kan; former Avicii manager Ash Pournouri; Robinhood vp of product Josh Elman; Michael Faibisch; and Pandora head of artist product Shamal Ranasinghe.
The new advisors will assist co-founders Ranidu Lankage, Forrest Browning and Roneil Rumberg with outreach to the music industry as the protocol begins to roll out. The recent funding round included General Catalyst, Lightspeed, Kleiner Perkins and Pantera Capital.
For Lankage, an entrepreneur with a background at Google and a former career as a pop artist in Sri Lanka who released four albums via Sony Music, the goal for Audius is to let artists take control of the distribution of their music directly to listeners, and to use the blockchain's smart contracts system to get artists paid fairly and transparently from any region in the world.
By removing the streaming-service-as-gatekeeper model, artists would be able to have more of a direct say in how different plays are monetized, like, for example, voting on revenue splits depending on whether a song is played from a playlist vs. direct discovery. "Really, the direct connection between artists and listeners [is] what we're trying to facilitate," Rumberg tells Billboard.
For now, Browning says, the company -- which began working in earnest on Audius earlier this year -- is focusing on securing its contracts and laying the protocol's foundation, with the goal of launching a private beta later this year and rolling out the product widely in 2019.