Web3 music platform Sound has raised $20 million in funding to help artists earn a sustainable income throughout their careers.
The Series A round, which closed in February, was led by venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), with participation from rapper Snoop Dogg, artist and producer Ryan Tedder, actor Ashton Kutcher-led firm Sound Ventures and more.
Sound’s goal is to disrupt the traditional revenue models of Web2 streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music. The company’s platform allows artists to mint their songs on-chain as a non-fungible token (NFT) to sell directly to fans and has helped music creators generate $5.5 million on their music sales since its beta launch in 2022. Now, it's opening access to the public to help more artists earn a livable income off of their work.
David Greenstein, co-founder of Sound and former product manager at streaming service Pandora, told CoinDesk that as music subscription services have emerged in the past decade, they’ve expanded access to songs while simultaneously diminishing artists' earnings. On Spotify, for example, artists receive roughly $0.003 per stream.
Inspired by English rock band Radiohead’s “pay what you want” revenue model for the release of their 2007 album In Rainbows, Greenstein wants to empower listeners to fairly compensate artists at their own discretion.
“One of my principles is that talent is equally distributed, and opportunity is not,” said Greenstein. “It shouldn't matter where you come from, what you look like, how much money you have – if you are talented and you make music, you should be able to make a career off of being an artist.”
Greenstein explained that Web3 helps facilitate direct payments for the songs, allowing artists to eliminate the middleman and keep 100% of their revenue. Utilizing Ethereum and layer 2 scaling solution Optimism, artists can upload their songs, mint them on-chain and sell them for ETH – without requiring fans to create a wallet by supporting fiat payments.
“My philosophy has been ‘meet artists with where they're at,’” said Greenstein, discussing onboarding new creators to Web3. “Ultimately, once they get their music collected and get paid out instantly, that's the dopamine effect that goes ‘whoa, I just returned 100% of my revenue, this company didn't take anything from me, and I own the relationship with my artist with with my listeners’ - that is super, super powerful.”
Sound aims to use the funding to expand its artist relations, engineering and marketing teams as it opens its platform to the public. Ahead of its launch last year, Sound raised a $5 million seed round in December 2021, with backers including a16z and rapper 21 Savage.
Many artists and producers seeking to break free from the existing regimes and revenue structures that dictate success in the music industry have turned to Web3 to do so. In February, Web3 music marketplace anotherblock turned Rihanna’s hit song “B**** Better Have My Money” into a fractionalized NFT, allowing holders to earn streaming royalties on the song. In April, credit card provider Mastercard released its Mastercard Music Pass, a free-to-mint NFT that let artists enter its Web3 music accelerator program.
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