Building an Open Source Music Community with Roneil Rumburg of Audius

Richard Stallman, a Harvard educated software engineer, joined the MIT AI Lab in 1971 to help develop computing platforms… however the AI Lab shut down later in the 80s as their talent was lost to the private sector.

Seeing how closed, proprietary software was on the rise, Richard used the knowledge he had accumulated over the years to create public, open source software… Software that users could operate, debug, modify or tweak without altering the initial distribution terms.

This movement: open source code… is now colliding with the world of digital commerce.

Audius, a new, open source music streaming platform gives musicians the same rights to their distribution… And users can leverage programmable money like USDC to exchange value and services on the platform.

In this episode of The Money Movement, Jeremy is joined by Roneil Rumburg, Co-Founder, and CEO of Audius to discuss building an open source music community. Listen now!

Jeremy: Hello, and welcome to the Money Movement. A show where we explore the ideas in digital currency and blockchain and its impact on society and the economy. So much happening. Excited today with Roneil Rumburg, the founder of Audius, a blockchain native creator platform, music streaming platform, music monetization model. Very innovative project that I've been following for some time and excited to have you on and join us for our conversation today.

Roneil Rumburg: Jeremy, thanks so much for having me. I'm excited too.

Jeremy: Awesome. I generally like to give you an opportunity, kicking off here just a little bit. I'm interested in just your own personal journey very quickly. What brought you to this project and what inspired this project? Then we'll obviously dive a lot more deeper.

Roneil: Yes, it feels like the logical conclusion of the through line through my life, in a way. I was a musician in a past life, never professionally, but I played drums for a long time and then evolved from that into just being a voracious collector, consumer of music, mostly through the 2000s and then in the early 2010s. While doing all of that, where I did find my calling a little bit more, at least professionally, was in software engineering.

I started working in high school as a software engineer in various capacities, and then in college I continued that, and was really interested in, excited about distributed systems problems. That's what ended up bringing me to crypto inevitably. There was a group of friends of [unintelligible 00:01:56] and I when we were in school at Stanford in like 2011, 2012 or so, that started mining various altcoins at that time.

It turned into a great source of beer money, especially because electricity in the dorms was free so you could mine as much as you wanted and have basically no cost, especially with using outdated hardware that other people had cast off and were selling off on e-bay and elsewhere. So I was interested and excited about the possibilities around crypto and decentralization and where these two worlds collided was after school in 2015 or so, I was working at the venture firm, Kleiner Perkins.

I was covering crypto for them actually from the work I had done around the space previously. I started to see a lot of my favorite content that I had collected and curated over the years on SoundCloud start to disappear. I also saw a lot of my favorite creators on SoundCloud choosing to leave the platform at that time. Some of those folks were friends of mine.

I started asking them like, "Why are you disabling your SoundCloud account? Why are you taking your content offline?" The answers I heard were roughly aligned around them feeling mistreated by SoundCloud and by the choices they were making towards their community. I don't think it was any fault of SoundCloud's what they did, but I was able to learn a little bit more about it through my work at Kleiner because they were involved with the company.

They led financing for SoundCloud and that was prior to me joining, but I was able to get a little bit more insight there into what was pushing and motivating these choices. It was really, they were backed into a corner. They were running out of money. They were having a hard time raising more, given some of the legal issues they may be facing and they made in quick succession, a number of rash choices with respect to their community that led to this exodus of users, content and community.

It just made me start to think and was talking to my now co-founder, Forrest Browning, about it at the time. He was one of those friends from that friend group in school. We were just chatting about, how can you prevent this? How can you keep the incentives and the goals of the companies operating these networks, all aligned with the communities that come to rely and depend on them over time.

That was the original genesis of the idea of Audius, sort of like a streaming co-op is what we did envision being able to create, and from a tech perspective, the tools to do what we wanted to didn't exist at that time. We shelved the idea, moved on, but came back to it in late 2017 or so when I decided to leave Kleiner around that time to get back to building stuff, I kind of missed that.

Forrest similarly had sold a company at that time or six months prior and was getting bored at the acquirer and thinking about what might be next and started hacking on this and turned out, we could build a little prototype. Ethereum and IPFS were the two things that enabled that, that hadn't existed in 2015. Well, Homestead, I think had just come out in 2015, but this state of developer tooling and everything there was like not at a level where we felt it was reasonable to be building with. Anyway, yes, all very long-winded, but that's how Audius to begin in early 2018 or so, we officially kicked things off.

Jeremy: That's awesome. I'm always interested. I stumbled into the internet in my dorm room too, but it was quite a while ago. It was back in like 1990, but I didn't have a technical background. I'm always interested with folks who have been diving into things like distributed systems. I think computer scientists or engineers bring a different understanding to blockchain as a pattern, as an architecture. Actually one of the themes that I've been talking a lot about, just trying to educate people.

I spent several days with people in Congress and I think when people hear crypto and blockchain, they immediately just think this is like people trading Bitcoin. There's just very little understanding of the technical innovation that's happening here. When I came to this space, similarly, I looked at this as like, "Oh, this is like a new distributed operating system. This is a new platform that you can build new classes of software with that just hadn't been technically possible before."

Still even today, this is like Web3 is now finally catching as like a concept. It's existed since really the [unintelligible 00:06:58] white paper and when people started talking about these ideas, but it's just now coming to the fore because of projects like yours. There's projects that are launching that are building on this. Maybe just talk for a moment about, as a technologist, when you think about the infrastructure layer that's in front of us and what it means for society. Obviously we'll talk about what it means for musicians in more detail, but what do you see as a technologist? What becomes possible here that just wasn't possible before and what does that represent?

Roneil: Yes, I think from a distributed systems perspective, there are some really, really neat things enabled here, but all of those things that, at least from my background in the area or research-wise and otherwise, are fairly iterative towards what existed prior. I think the things that are much more interesting here actually are the economic structures, that we now have the ability to economically incentivize like behaviors of groups towards common goals and common incentives.

That trend more broadly, what I'm so excited about is these opportunities for the actual users and contributors of value to given pieces of software, whether that's social network style products like Audius, or whether it's more infrastructure layer products that might be helping folks deploy and run smart contracts or things like that. It's almost like we now have a business model for open source software when one never really existed in the past.

There was like, yes, you could be Red Hat or DataStax or something and sell service and support around your open source software, or like Cloudera where they even forked off of the open source stuff and make their own weird distribution of it that diverges from the open source stuff. Those companies, incentives are always at odds with the open source community is.

I saw that when I was working at this company called Nebula in like 2012/2013. They were the kind of service and support company trying to make open stack in that whole stack of software, be something that was commercializable. Our incentive as a company was not to release certain features and things out to the open source community because it benefited the company's ability to sell better, whereas here we finally, for the first time can have these community-owned commons be financially solvent and make sense.

Jeremy: It's incredible. I try and explain to people that the internet never had an economic infrastructure. It didn't have any economic infrastructure and it's not just about representations of money, but that is important and we'll talk about USCC shortly too, but I think these building blocks that allow you to create structures that allow people to interact, and not just transact, but form economic relationships in an open way on the internet. It's just such a breakthrough. We just launched an episode on [unintelligible 00:10:20] there's so many different dimensions to how economic activity can now be evolved, and it's a huge piece.

That's helpful just to hear how you think about that as well. I'd love to explore some of the technology choices that you've made in building Audius as well, but maybe just let's start at a little bit of a higher level like give us the state of Audius today. I'm an artist, I'm a listener, what happens?

Roneil: As a artist or listener you can actually just show up to audius.co, or there are a few other front ends that other folks have built for the protocols. You can just show up there, sign up with a username and password. Your browser's locally generating both an Ethereum and a Solana wallet for you and encrypting the seed for that wallet, using your username and password. It's a non-custodial solution. As a user you have control of that, but we're able to meet the same UX bar that folks are used to.

Jeremy: That's pretty clever.

Roneil: You can click around and upload content. You can do whatever, without needing to know there's any crypto there at all. When you're interacting with the network, you're actually interacting with these third-party nodes that folks in our community operate. There are two types of nodes in Audius. There's this so-called discovery node that indexes all the metadata for the content on the network and produces a normal API that you can search against and look up stuff.

I can be like, what are all the tracks that Jeremy uploaded, for example. Then there's a so-called content node that actually is storing and pinning content on IPFS that's being uploaded to the network. Yes, because of I think that that usability bar we were able to maintain, today we see nearly 7 million people listen to content on Audius every month, and around 200,000 artists have uploaded. Yes, it's been pretty mind blowing.

Jeremy: That's incredible. When I saw you, when was it? In May or something.

Roneil: In Miami? Yes, we've doubled since then.

Jeremy: Oh my God. That's amazing. That's awesome.

Roneil: Compounded exponential growth is a hell of a beast.

Jeremy: Yes, absolutely.

Roneil: Our poor community, all the engineering folks in our community, they're the true heroes here keeping everything afloat through all of that growth because it's not easy, but it's been pretty amazing to see, and that's all with not a dime spent on marketing or anything else. Back to these economic incentives, our community is the Audius marketing team. The community is the service and support team. There are folks that just hang out in this [unintelligible 00:13:15] support channel and they're not getting paid for that. They just want to help support this thing. It's been really cool to see. Our core project team is only 25 people, and we're able to service this very large community through that leverage.

Jeremy: That's incredible. I'm so psyched for you. Maybe just talk through the economic incentives themselves. How does that work for the different participants? I'm sure you have a vision for where that goes obviously over time, because you have the protocol and you have the digital asset, and the beautiful thing about these protocols and digital assets, is they evolve and can take on new utility value and meaning and everything else which is also remarkable. Just walk through at a high level how the economy works, so to speak.

Roneil: As things are today, Audius is still promotional in usage. The folks sharing content here, they're actually not monetizing the listening behavior that users are doing, but what they are able to do right now is earn ownership in the network through the form of the Audius token. There are these token economic incentives for behaviors that are seen by the network as increasing the value of the network. There's incentives around things like creating a playlist or uploading content that gets listened to more than a certain threshold.

You can as a user, creator, in the Audius ecosystem, you can actually get, like effectively gain control of your means of distribution by contributing value to it. There are even now API integration incentives. I mentioned there are quite a few third-party interfaces. I think actually now somewhere on the order of 70 or 80 third-party applications have integrated the Audius catalog and Audius network, and I think it's the top five API users are able to earn rewards.

Jeremy: It's so powerful when you don't have to be focused on being the consumer layer. USDC is a little bit similar. We're like here's an infrastructure, here's a protocol. I think a lot of people would find benefit from using it and then it gets hooked up, and then obviously that creates value for the network, so to speak, but that's incredible. That's pretty fast. [chuckles] It's still early days, and such a huge departure from tightly controlled user experience by a centralized party. It's sort of distribution takes on a completely new meaning.

Roneil: It really does. Our team built the first Audius client, kind of the reference client. We see that being the reference client over time though, and that shouldn't be the primary engagement tools. It's more like being able to provide something for others to base their implementations off of, which is open source. Folks have already forked it. Even some features like dark mode and stuff like that. Our community was like, "We want different color scheme options and you guys aren't listening, so we're just going to do it." That's great. That's like the whole power of-- I'm definitely dating myself staying this, but if anyone remembers the days of WinAmp and the skin ecosystems.

Jeremy: [unintelligible 00:16:46] absolutely.

Roneil: Yes. [unintelligible 00:16:50] is just so much more fun when we had a little bit more control and you didn't have to take advantage of those features, but as a consumer of music and a fan of music, it was just amazing to get to control some of that listening experience that happened. Anyway, I can talk on this for days, but to your point on USDC too. I think it's such an interesting flipping of the way of thinking, where we're saying we want less control of this network. We want fewer users using our interface compared to the other interfaces, because it makes the network stronger. Right?

Jeremy: Absolutely.

Roneil: We both worked in traditional tech for a long time. That's just completely the opposite from the way folks would approach things which is less lock things down more, or let's have more control, let's add more tolls and gatekeeping at the edges, because we can control or get more value out of the thing, but this way of thinking really at the 100,000 foot level is saying we can grow the pie by a greater amount by opening things up and therefore, it's better for us as the folks working on this. Sure we own a smaller percentage of these things overall, but pie is so much bigger. It's better for everyone, ourselves included. There is this abundance way of thinking I think has underpinned all of the amazing stuff people are doing in crypto.

Jeremy: Yes. It's interesting. Obviously like in the social space, you probably remember really well when Twitter launched, Twitter thought of itself as a protocol, and it was like what was the Twitter protocol and anyone should be able to build on it. They encouraged tons and tons of clients. There were so many different Twitter clients, and I think they didn't have a monetization model. It was hard to have a monetization model if you didn't control the client. That basically led them to shut that down or much more tightly control the way in which you could deal with Twitter. Now that's evolved over time, but in a model, and I know people, including Twitter itself, is working on social protocols. Providing incentives to protocol users. That's exactly what you're obviously doing.

I guess, two questions. When you think about centralized platforms like Spotify, and you think about where they are today, the business model dominated by subscriptions what it means for artists. Let's say your growth rate continues like it is for two years. I think it gets pretty big, if you have that growth rate you're doubling every four months or whatever that is. I don't know what the numbers you get in a few years. That'd be pretty big. Let's say you're 200 million end users. How many artists? What does monetization look like in the future and how is that experienced by the ecosystem?

Roneil: I just mentioned Audius' usage is all promotional today. That's obviously not why this network was built. The goal here was to give control and ownership of that fan relationship back to the artist, and then build out a suite of tools with the community that allow artists to leverage those relationships to make more money. Whether that's selling folks digital merchandise, let's say, or being able to sell them direct access subscriptions to some exclusive gated content.

It gets even further than that when you have the ability to control who, at what time, can access what piece of content, because you as the creator can see and have some control of that interaction every single time. There are some artists in our community that are building tooling to make it so that you can only listen to a piece of content above a certain altitude, was the idea.

When we were talking to this, it's a well-known artist, I unfortunately can't say who, but when we were talking to their team, I was like, "Well, I have no idea what Oracle you can use to report altitude." They actually were pretty clever. They figured out there's a finite number of ISPs that served that inflight internet, so if you just match the IP address against the known blocks for those Panasonic satellite ISP or whatever, you actually can say, "Hey, only people who are accessing it from the in-flight wifi can listen to this.

It's just so cool to think about the possibilities created by this free market for content. The first of those monetization tools are going to be going live next year. I think the place that we see it making the most sense to begin, there's quite a delta between what the protocol enables which is what I just described as complete programmability around what content can be accessed when, by whom, and how that actually practically makes it into the hands of consumers.

I think the first sets of use cases here that our community are most excited about are fan clubs. Being able to charge a recurring subscription to an opt-in segment of your fan base and give them some sets of exclusive benefits in exchange for that. Things like some portion of your catalog being behind that paywall, maybe being able to access recurring Twitch streams and other modes of engagement with the artist, even social engagement within Audius being gated on that.

You could potentially comment on a track or comment on that artist content only if you're in the fan clubs. These are the simplest and lowest hanging ways to start to chip away at that from a tooling perspective, but the neat thing about this is that that's like our idea and conception of how this could begin to work, and that's just from talking to a ton of artists about what would they use and what would they care about?

Folks in the community are already building many other variations of things as well. I suspect that the most successful monetization structures here will not be things that we come up with. It's going to be things that artists cobbled together from existing tools in our ecosystem and then seeing that emergent behavior, someone will say, "Let's build a better way to do that.

Jeremy: Great. They'll say this works and then people will repeat it and scale it.

Roneil: Exactly. The artists that are kind of at the vanguard of this in Audius are going to be the ones that do that experimentation publicly with the community, and that's going to be really fun to see. Anyway, tying back to your original question. How do we differ from Spotify, from Apple Music, from all of these other networks? We don't see ourselves as competitive with them.

This is just a very different engagement model and way of-- if you're an artist on Spotify and you have 3 million monthly fans, you don't know who those fans are, you don't know where they are. You have no ability to send information to them or access anything relating to that. I think Spotify lets you send an email once a year to your fans or people who've opted into that communication. They actually exercise some editorial control over what you can say in that email as well.

You couldn't link to a Patreon for example, or something like that. I don't think what Spotify has done there is wrong or anything. It's a mass market product. Where we see Audius fitting into this market tapestry is being the tool chain that lets artists identify and financialize super fan relationships because right now they don't even know who those fans are.

Who are the people who listen to my content on Spotify 100 times more frequently than the average? Those are people who are already coming out to my shows, who are buying my merch, who are wanting to support me in all of these ways. If I can give them some better experience, they will happily pay for that because they get to deepen that relationship with me as an artist.

Jeremy: That is creator economy super aligned with what is unique about what you're doing in building these mechanisms of control, and then openness so people can innovate in that space. But it does seem like you're incentivizing high quality curation which forms distribution. You're incentivizing protocol distribution. I guess my point is just like, you should be able to create mass distribution, but it's a different model which hopefully is one which is more aligned with deeper forms of discovery for people as opposed to licensing relationships.

Roneil: That's absolutely right. I think the way that you get to identify those super fans, the people that are going to spend more on your content, is by building up to some level of scale. I think what we've already begun to see with artists, the vast majority of artists make a diminimous percentage of their total income from streaming. The majority of their income is coming from touring and merch and these other channels that I mentioned.

The logical conclusion of that is that the value of content on its own starts to go to zero over time. This is marketing and lead gen into the top of funnel to find those fans that are actually going to more deeply engage, because artists, especially in the middle tier and upper middle tier, less than a tens of millions of monthly listeners, they're earning so little from streaming right now. It's like may as well make it free and not have that friction for fans wanting to start to engage with me for the first time.

Jeremy: I have so many questions [chuckles], but I want to tack to a couple of technology questions. Talk about your use of USDC or where you see USDC becoming powerful in the context of Audius and what you're building. I may have a follow-up question on that, but I'd love to hear you connect the dots there.

Roneil: USDC launching on Solana was a very pivotal thing for us. I don't know if I ever got to tell you that or if we ever talked about that, but that step and part of us building on Solana was a bet that there would be USDC supported on Solana at some point in the future. That's what enables all of these great things that I'm talking about. If every time I consumed your monetized piece of content I had to spend like $15 on [unintelligible 00:28:37] to do that, it'd just never work.

Now I actually can send you a cent of USDC or like 5 cents of USDC and have that be something that financially makes sense. What was really neat. Part of the reason Audius didn't launch with monetization features native to the network from day one, was that just wasn't technically possible to do these things I'm describing until more of the ecosystem caught up to what the needs of something like this were. Over the last eight, nine months or so, that's very resoundingly happened.

Everything from a Fiat to crypto on ramp tooling, that's available in Solana, to the the wallet support and really primarily port from you all on the Solana network natively so there's not some like bridging nonsense to happen. That's the enabler for all of these use cases we're describing. The way I see that fan club subscription working is in USDC. I think one of the really important things I call out with respect to the Audius native token and the token economics around that, I think it's important to differentiate what is ownership and governance control over a network and what is the medium of exchange or value. Artists want to--

Jeremy: You can't slam those together. It's confusing.

Roneil: You just create unnecessary friction. If as a user, I'm trying to consume a subscription from you as an artist, I'm buying Audius token, sending those to you and you're immediately selling them, that doesn't do anything to help the token. It just creates friction for you and for me in that transaction. That's where we see USDC being the primary medium of exchange within this Audius economy. That financial railing underpinning all of these sorts of interactions that can happen, it's now possible for me to say I'm going to charge a cent every time someone listens to my track and if they don't want to listen to it, that's fine.

It's a free market for content. I can do whatever I want. There are even some artists in our community wanting to, with that pay per stream model, go as far as to say, hey, I'll charge $10 every time someone listens to this. Sure, maybe 99.9% of people that come across it won't listen, but that small percentage that do, they're going to really care about it and engage with it. Having a programmable native means of exchange that can operate in Solana alongside of all of our engagement tracking tooling and everything else.

Every time you listen to something on Audius now, that's generating a transaction on chain, on Solana. It's so trivial to add to that, like a payment or even a logging of that event, such that if I'm part of a subscription pool, the fact that I listened to something, can be logged for the future distribution of payouts there.

Jeremy: You don't have to worry about payment gateways all over the world. The unit economics of a cent costs you a fraction of a cent. Literally, you can almost any form of payment flow work. This is the stuff we dreamed about and it's so cool to see programmable money working. It's converging with a lot of other things that are part of this. The whole story of what's happening in crypto right now is all of these building blocks are enabling all this creativity and [unintelligible 00:32:38] is often overused as a phrase, but in reality, it's just taking all of these, working with them together, it's just unlocking so much that just was not possible on the internet.

I was asked a question last night by someone who-- it was actually kind of a stupid question, but it was, why wouldn't I just use cash? Well, okay. You're not going to be using cash to use Audius, that's for sure. The bigger point was I think people have a hard time conceptualizing that frictionless, instantaneous, free exchange of value on the internet, programmable change. They just don't understand how powerful that is and what people can do with it.

That's the other point is just like you were saying, you don't know what people are going to do, what they're going to build in terms of other forms of distribution, of monetization, curation, et cetera. We have no idea what people are going to do either, but the fact that we can just make these things available and then creators, in the sense of you as a protocol developer, can weave it in. It's just a beautiful thing.

This is the network effects of all these things happening. It's really exciting. It's really exciting. I guess it ties to one other somewhat of a technical question, which you've somewhat answered already, which was when you're thinking about "web-scale, user experiences and high fidelity user experiences," you made a decision to support Solana as an important architecture. I'm interested to just hear you talk about that for a moment. Sounds like USDC being on Solana was really important. We've heard that from a lot of people in DeFi and NFT markets and other things too. I'm just interested in what you see, and what you see happening in that community as well.

Roneil: We decided to build with Solana in August of last year.

Jeremy: Same here.

Roneil: That was prior to the Audius main net even launching. We saw the writing on the wall that the rate that engagement was growing. Even at that time, at that time, we had like 150,000 monthly users or 100,000 monthly users. The product was less than a year in the market by then. We launched publicly in September of 2019. Fast forward to August, 11 months later. This for us was really a choice not of making some prescient predictions of whatever, of Solana doing well overtime or anything along those lines.

It was just purely like we needed more throughput than we could find anywhere else. Actually, the projections that we did at that time ended up being quite accurate with respect to usage levels that we're at now, like 6 to 7 million. We're seeing high hundreds of thousands of transactions per day hit Solana, on really good days, over a million. There's just nowhere else you could do that. We tried and looked at everything we could find. There are other things that could do it, but it would be cost-prohibitive.

That's only a very small handful of things. There was no other choice. I think that putting aside the fact that the Solana foundation and team are all great. They've been super supportive of us and have been really, really helpful through this migration. I don't know that they even realized it at that time, for us we had no option. Without Solana, I don't think Audius would exist at the scale that it does today just because there was no other way to do this.

It's awesome to hear you all decided around the same time, because you and us and the Serum folks were basically these lone people making that choice. There was no one else really building in Solana land at that time. It was a leap of faith, but in our case, either we could make the bold choice and leap forward, or we were doomed to stay this tiny thing.

I'm really glad in retrospect we made the choice, and of course over the last year, the ecosystem around Solana has completely blown up, in a great way I mean. It's huge. We're seeing so many great founders and builders starting to play in Solana just for the same reasons that you and I saw. I'm assuming you felt similarly to us, but I'm curious where you all's take was too. It's the same sort of theme that we keep touching on. When you can reduce the cost of transacting by a factor of 1,000 to 10,000 and can increase the throughput by a similar factor, we don't know what the possibilities are but something like Audius is an example of that, where this couldn't exist without that very high throughput base layer.

I'm very excited to see what others come. USDC enabled micropayments, more generally, I think is going to be a huge game-changer for a lot of different media use cases and others, because as much as we've seen these micropayment structures experimented with for years and years, but the UX around them was always horrible.

Jeremy: It was awful.

Roneil: You're depositing money into some walled garden, and then you could only play within the walled garden. Then there were fees to pull out. It just didn't work. Whereas these default composable tools that we have now, like someone from Audius could auto stake their USDC into some yield generating thing and now their Audius balance generates them interest over time, and that's all for free. For free, as in there's no cost, no implementation complexity to do something like that. It just works.

Jeremy: It's incredible. I feel privileged to be able to be involved in this now and can see how there's just going to be, again, what people are going to dream up with programmable money and do, it's unreal. For us, just looking at some of the technical decisions as well, we've always been just focused on, okay, we look at blockchain as this sort of new economic infrastructure. We think about USDC as this programmable money and it's interesting if it can be retail scale, and it's interesting if it can be what I call capital market scale. Both of those use cases, retail scale usage with consumer applications that have hundreds of millions of users eventually, we need to be able to do that.

At the same time you need-- Serum is sort of the opposite, which is you need throughput and capital efficiency to make a market function. If you want to actually have capital market structures that are on chain, you have to have these things too. We look at both of those, retail scaling and capital market scaling, and we need that. That's really what drew us to want to implement. We had embarked on a multi-chain strategy. As you know, USDC runs on several chains. We will continue to innovate and experiment with change, because there are interesting developer communities and growth and we're happy to support that, but we're also very excited about the traction that's happening with apps and platforms like Solana as well.

It's an amazing time with all that. That's just awesome. Maybe just wrapping up, just stepping back a little bit. As a founder you dream, and we all dream. Eight years ago I was dreaming of programmable money that could do the things it's doing today and it takes a while. As you think about dreaming a little bit in that five years from now or whatever it is, in the realm of what's happening with Audius, what do you see?

Roneil: I think the vision of the future we always had and have been building towards with Audius, is to remake the economy that exists around music and around the brand equity of an artist to enable, or I guess really to rebuild that economy on the foundation of direct engagement, direct interaction, and no intermediaries controlling and sitting between these relationships. There are a lot of downstream effects of that. We think artists will make more money in this world. We also think that artists and listeners will have a greater degree of fulfillment that they can get from interacting with and hanging out with one another and everything else.

That core principle that as a creator on Audius, you control your audience and no one can govern what you're able to do with that audience. If you want to sell those people concert tickets, you could ask the question like, "Who of my audience are connecting from IP addresses in Cleveland and I'm going to go play a show there. Let's tell those people that there's a show happening." Really, really simple stuff like that, that we take for granted in tech land that you can put a Google analytics tag on your website and know everything that's happening.

Artists have no idea, so I really want to get to this future where the majority of an artist's fan base and fan relationships are actually in networks where they have control of them. We're not the only ones building towards this future. There are a lot of other projects and tools and things that are adjacent to our work at Audius that are building in similar directions. Folks working on everything from like concert ticketing, to like new forms of all of the NFT stuff we've been seeing around so-called digital merchandise. This is not just us. It's going to be--

Jeremy: That's another piece, like things are going to get built. That's going to be like snap, snap, snap. It's just these.

Roneil: Really where Audius fits in in that world is as the means of distribution to fans. I almost liken it to like a CRM for your fan relationships and all of the data being generated across that relationship, being able to be aggregated and accessible from one place that's programmatically accessible. That's one place from a logical perspective, but not from like a corporate control perspective. The network effect from the developer side also reinforces that aggregation of data.

Very excited about this future that we're getting to build alongside of you all at Circle and so many others. That together where we're going to bring this future into into existence in music and in so many other categories as well. Music's our lane and that's where I'm focused and--

Jeremy: You've got your hands full.

Roneil: Yes, a little more than a little more than full at the moment but these are all good problems to be having around scale and everything else.

Jeremy: Absolutely. Roneil, it's really great to have this conversation. I'm so excited about what you guys have done and look forward to keep working together.

Roneil: Likewise. Thanks so much for having me.

Jeremy Allaire
Co-Founder, CEO & Chairman at Circle
Roneil Rumburg
Co-Founder & CEO Audius

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