TikTok has announced its partnership with Audius, a streaming music platform, to cater to its audio library. No one expected TikTok to partner with Audius because it is simply a startup founded in 2018 and is not a major platform like Apple Music or Spotify. What makes Audius more unique is that it is the only streaming platform that runs on blockchain.
Blockchain is a technology that can store data “records and transfers values with no centralized ownership.” (TNW) The data will be stored as “blocks” which will be linked together after connecting with timestamps. This, in turn, forms “chains”. In music streaming platforms, blockchain would mean that songs will have unique codes and data will be store each time a song plays. It will enable more effective and structured payments.
Spotify and Apple Music use a “pro-rata” model to make payments. This method will allocate artists a share of the platform’s overall monthly revenue by adding up the number of times their songs are played. This system is often criticized by many artists and analysts. The critics claim that it maintains a “superstar economy”.
Audius functions as a “user-centric” model which employs the blockchain system. Here artists will be paid according to the music streamed by individual users. Deezer had earlier taken its first step towards such a model. Now, TikTok is following its path.
TikTok has more than 800 million monthly active users, and its role in the global music industry is huge. Songs are used as background in TikTok videos which can go viral. Now uploading independent music on TikTok requires the help of publishers or companies. It may come with a charge. But Audius will facilitate independent artists to upload their work to TikTok directly.
TikTok has not made any official announcement that it will use blockchain technology, but it is likely to employ royalty payments according to the number of video plays. The payments from Audius are made through their cryptocurrency called $AUDIO. The value of $AUDIO increased after the announcement of the partnership with TikTok.
Payments in cryptocurrency won’t help artists, at least at present. It will make many artists speculative of the model. But a user-centric model will always have such flaws.
TikTok had earlier announced tie-ups with some major labels and Indie consortia to help with music distribution. They had also partnered with Spotify for premium services.
The blockchain system is expected to transform the music industry and TikTok has given it a necessary push towards its future.