🍵 Today’s Topic
Today we’ll explore music streaming platforms across Web 2 and Web 3, more specifically Spotify vs. Audius. Our new “Web 2 vs Web 3” series is where the team at Ripple breaks down the similarities, differences, and impact of similar technologies across the two.
Why did we start this series? As we learn more about the Web 3 space, the value of certain elements is difficult to grasp fully right away. We believe that by comparing new Web 3 technology and features to Web 2 features, we can draw better comparisons, and in turn, understand the value proposition of the features people are building in the Web 3 space.
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🕰 Past, Present & Future
Music has always been at the center of our society and continued to evolve every month, year or decade. Its expansion across borders has allowed us to intertwine songs, share stories through lyrics, and of course, express our creativity through unique beats.
As music evolved rapidly, the publication of music has had a slower path of development. From the very start, music was played to those around us and played through the notes on paper. This moved on to radios and TV networks enabling a larger broadcast. Though this created an opportunity for artists to earn through their music, it was a requirement for the music to be licensed via publishing companies. Up until the early 2000s and 2010s, there were numerous issues with this entire process for both the creators and listeners in comparison to the flexibility that we enjoy today.
Fast forward, streaming platforms such as Spotify have drastically simplified the entire process. The SaaS freemium model grants seamless access to millions of songs introducing an entirely new approach to the music industry. This revolution created waves across the world and currently sits at a market capitalization of $29.25 billion. Though this has been a great platform for listeners, creators have continued to struggle under this model as it only favors the top artists in the industry.
This is where Audius come into play. What if there was a way to provide artists the right to their music while earning an equitable amount of capital and royalties for each re-sale?
🎵 Web 2 — Spotify
Spotify has undoubtedly become a household name serving 79 countries, 180 million subscribers, 406 million monthly active users, and is available across 184 markets. Its traction came from the ease and unlimited access, variety of music, SaaS subscription model, and support by multiple platforms (i.e. Windows, Apple, etc.).
For listeners, Spotify has become one of the best platforms for its variety of offerings. However, there are always two sides to any story. From the perspective of the artists behind the music, there are significant issues that the company fails to acknowledge. In the past, artists would be paid a fixed amount for the album or song based on the price. However, Spotify’s approach is to pay the artist based on their market share and distribution contract, indicating the number of streams associated with the song.
This approach clearly puts smaller artists at a disadvantage and restricts many artists to earn a living based on the music they produce. To provide further context, Spotify pays artists between $0.0034 to $0.0054 per stream which clearly demonstrates the divide between the various artists on the platform.
🌐 Web 3 — Audius
Introducing a decentralized music protocol designed to be artist-controlled and community-owned. This alternative music platform gives everyone involved a piece of the pie including the listeners, artists, and node operators. With notable investors such as Katy Perry, Nas, Steve Aoki, and many more, it’s logical to question how this platform differentiates from what we have today.
By acknowledging the issues in the music industry, Audius takes a unique approach to entirely remove the middlemen and let artists drive their own profits. By connecting directly to the fans, Audius empowers artists to earn 90% of the sales revenue and decide how they seek to monetize their music. Whether they prefer to offer their content at a one-time fee for unlimited access or sell songs as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). By leveraging a peer-to-peer network and being supported by decentralized node operators, artists can continue to have full ownership of their content.
An emphasis is also placed on $AUDIO, the governance token with a current market cap of $1.2 billion (at the time of writing) which obviously serves as a foundation of the platform. The remaining 10% of the revenue is split among the node operators supporting the network. This means that the protocol takes no piece of the revenue of its sales remaining heavily dependent on the success of the token and support from the community.
🌱 Comparing the Two
- Both are music streaming platforms that allow artists to publish music and curate an audience.
- Both allow consumers to have unlimited access to a large collection of music across industry giants.
- Both empower artists to connect with the fans by offering music streaming and additional perks.
- Spotify is the leading centralized music streaming platform and Audis is the decentralized music streaming protocol.
- Spotify favors the listeners with unlimited access to a large catalog of music tailored to the user and limits artists to be paid based on the number of streams.
- With Audius, the artists are favored allowing them to choose how they want to monetize their content, but copyright support is not possible due to its missing central authority. A limited catalog and brand recognition is also a difference between a small platform such as Audius that aims to onboard industry leaders.
🧠 Why This Matters
The iconic music industry is bound for change and its flaws are continuing to screech in the ears of its artists and listeners. Although Spotify has enabled tremendous growth for listeners to access unlimited music at a moment’s notice, there are of course issues that are not recognized as a centralized platform driven through profits.
Though Audius proposes several fundamental changes including a community and artist-driven platform, there are several barriers that it continues to face as it seeks the approval of the mass public. Going forward, only time will tell if this new content-creator-first model will be able to adapt and compete against a giant such as Spotify in its race to onboard more listeners.