Get the best insights in crypto delivered directly to your inbox. Subscribe to our newsletter below.

mail icon

Open Audio

Kyle Samani
July 30, 2020 | 4 minute read

The first Internet-enabled application I can remember enjoying was Napster. It was 1999, and I was downloading songs at a blazing fast 2.96 KB / second. On good days, it would tick up to 3.13 KB / second.

Music has been—by far—the most censored content on the Western internet over the last 20 years. The waves of censorship have played out time and time again across venues. In approximate chronological order those services were: Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa, Limewire, Piratebay, YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify,, 8tracks, Apple Music, and many others.

Interestingly, if you look at those services over time, the most salient trend is the shift from unregulated services—Napster, torrents—to tightly controlled walled gardens—Spotify, Apple Music.

Today, the vast majority of music is consumed within these walled gardens. Perhaps the defining trait of these walled gardens is their active censorship (examples here and here) via tools like ContentID and Gracenote. While these tools were developed with good intentions, rights owners have become notorious for abusing those rights to squash creativity.

In 2011, Union Square Ventures (disclosure: an investor in Multicoin Capital) led an investment in SoundCloud. Fred Wilson wrote about it at the time. In his essay, he laid out the investment thesis aptly (the bolded emphasis is mine):

“But the most important thing about SoundCloud is that it is an open platform. You don’t need to go to SoundCloud to experience all of this audio. If the audio exists on SoundCloud, it can exist anywhere on the web and mobile devices.”

Nine years later, it’s clear that SoundCloud had the right vision: open audio available anywhere on the Internet. But like so many services before it, as SoundCloud grew, it became controlled by middlemen, who ultimately neutered the service. Large swaths of music—including almost all remixes—were removed from SoundCloud in the 2013-2015 period. High profile artists like Kaskade and Martin Garrix had their content wrongfully removed. Moreover, SoundCloud shuttered their public API for new applications in 2018. When you try to register a new API key with SoundCloud, you get this:

Soundcloud API Application

Today, it is common knowledge that artists withhold music from albums because of copyright issues. Many artists want others to remix their music. They want to foster creativity and self expression, and they want to share their work products as widely as possible. That’s precisely why they play so many of their best music live at concerts.

Bitcoin was the first censorship resistant media on the Internet. Bitcoin is censorship resistant because it’s decentralized. But Bitcoin is only usable for a limited form of censorship resistant content transmission: moving money from point A to point B.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion in decentralized services to power all forms of media across the internet. We’ve invested in a handful of them, including The Graph (querying public data using GraphQL), Livepeer (video transcoding), Arweave (permanent data storage), Helium (decentralized wireless networks), and Torus (decentralized identity leveraging Web2 logins).

Today I’m excited to share that Multicoin Capital led a $3.1M strategic round in Audius alongside our friends at Blockchange Ventures, with participation from Pantera Capital, Collab+Currency, and Coinbase Ventures.

Audius is a decentralized, censorship-resistant audio streaming platform. Audius has been live for almost a year, and has developed a rabid, organic community of a few hundred thousand monthly active users. They’ve also onboarded several high profile artists, including deadmau5, Lido, Mr. Carmack, RAC, 3LAU, ZEDS DEAD and REZZ, and many others. Today more than 250,000 fans use Audius every month to discover new music and connect directly with artists, making Audius the most widely used decentralized application that’s not trading or finance related.

Audius is growing quickly as artists discover that they can use Audius to connect directly with their fans. Audius is a P2P network, and there is no middleman: artists connect directly with fans. The team that built Audius could immediately cease development today, and the service would continue to run.

I met Audius cofounder Roneil Rumberg a year ago at a community event. We talked about the future of architecture of Web3 applications, and that conversation helped me crystallize my understanding of the Web3 architecture. Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time working with Roneil and his cofounder Forrest Browning, and they are nothing short of outstanding. They have solved a ton of hard technical problems, assembled a great team and roster of investors and artists, and built a fantastic product that music fans love.

By virtue of being decentralized, Audius is open. For the first time in more than a decade, music will be free, and it will prosper.

Disclosure: Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this post are solely those of the author(s) in their individual capacity and are not the views of Multicoin Capital Management, LLC or its affiliates (together with its affiliates, “Multicoin”). Certain information contained herein may have been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by Multicoin. Multicoin believes that the information provided is reliable but has not independently verified the non-material information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. This post may contain links to third-party websites (“External Websites”). The existence of any such link does not constitute an endorsement of such websites, the content of the websites, or the operators of the websites. These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by us of the content on such External Websites. The content of such External Websites is developed and provided by others and Multicoin takes no responsibility for any content therein. Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in this blog are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others.

The content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as the basis for an investment decision, and is not, and should not be assumed to be, complete. The contents herein are not to be construed as legal, business, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisors for those matters. References to any securities or digital assets are for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by Multicoin, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by Multicoin is available here: Excluded from this list are investments that have not yet been announced (1) for strategic reasons (e.g., undisclosed positions in publicly traded digital assets) or (2) due to coordination with the development team or issuer on the timing and nature of public disclosure. * This blog does not constitute investment advice or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to purchase any limited partner interests in any investment vehicle managed by Multicoin. An offer or solicitation of an investment in any Multicoin investment vehicle will only be made pursuant to an offering memorandum, limited partnership agreement and subscription documents, and only the information in such documents should be relied upon when making a decision to invest.*

Past performance does not guarantee future results. There can be no guarantee that any Multicoin investment vehicle’s investment objectives will be achieved, and the investment results may vary substantially from year to year or even from month to month. As a result, an investor could lose all or a substantial amount of its investment. Investments or products referenced in this blog may not be suitable for you or any other party.

Multicoin has established, maintains and enforces written policies and procedures reasonably designed to identify and effectively manage conflicts of interest related to its investment activities. For more important disclosures, please see the Disclosures and Terms of Use available at and