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Audius is a crypto company that doesn’t wear Web3 on its sleeve—and CEO Roneil Rumburg says that’s very much intentional.
“We’ve seen growth continue through this market cycle of sorts because the average Audius user is not even aware the crypto is there,” Rumburg told Decrypt at the Mainnet conference.
So is Audius, a music streaming platform Rumberg says is for “superfans,” immune to the bear market?
Maybe—or perhaps the platform has found a market fit that doesn’t feed into crypto hype cycles, providing an experience for users they can’t get elsewhere.
Less than 10% of Audius users have MetaMask installed, according to Rumberg. And for a Web3 company that’s been around for over two years, its user engagement has held steady, with anywhere from five to seven and a half million monthly active users in the past year.
Audius has over 250,000 artists and one million songs on its platform. It’s fair to question why there’s a crypto component at all if the company doesn’t advertise that fact, but Rumberg says he believes the tech behind the scenes provides a more direct artist-fan connection.
“They’re getting the benefits of decentralization without having to be super aware of having to use a wallet,” Rumberg said.
Who are the roughly seven million monthly users on Audius? According to company data, electronic dance music (EDM) fans use the platform most.
“Forrest (my cofounder) and I were both embedded in the dance community as fans at the time and the artists we reached out to first were in dance,” Rumberg later told Decrypt via email. “Dance producers tend to be very tech-forward and willing to try new products, moreso anecdotally than those in other genres.”
This certainly seems to hold true if other electronic artists active in Web3 are any indication.
Both Tycho and Dillon Francis previously told Decrypt that electronic artists are more likely to be open to platforms with crypto or NFT elements because they make music with computers and are more digitally-inclined.
Rumberg also thinks EDM artists actually often find fans in a more grassroots way than other genres.
“The dance producer movement is very grassroots as opposed to rock or many other pop genres, which are more top-down and harder to break into as an upstart,” Rumberg said.
Hip-hop is Audius’ second-most popular genre. Rumberg also thinks this is because of its tendency to be both tech-forward and grassroots. (Grammy Award-winning hip hop producer Illmind, who created his own NFT-based membership community, is a great example of this.)
While Audius might be staying warm through the crypto winter, its community-based “superfan” approach won’t appeal to everyone. Audius won’t replace Spotify—and it’s not supposed to.
“Audius isn’t trying to compete with Spotify or Apple Music,” Rumberg told Decrypt at Mainnet.
Instead, the upstart streaming platform has carved out a niche of its own where music meets Web3.