For the past few years, many of us in the crypto space have been excited by the prospect of using blockchains and smart contracts to disrupt the tech industry in the same way that we are slowly but surely disrupting the financial sector.
Until recently, much of the development that we have seen on smart contract platforms like Ethereum has been focused on the realm of finance. This is not a bad thing, by any means, these efforts are responsible for the booming Decentralized Finance (DeFi) ecosystem, which has truly taken blockchain technology and cryptocurrency to the next level.
However, this movement is still in its infancy, and we still have a very long way to go. Most Decentralized Applications (Dapps) are still very esoteric and confusing to the average user, and with such a large portion of the population living paycheck to paycheck, financial applications can seem out of reach. People who don’t have a savings account and struggle to pay their bills will usually not find a “store of value” like Bitcoin very appealing. On the other hand, Dapps that allow people to earn cryptocurrency in exchange for their time, skills and attention, will have true mass appeal because the barrier to entry is so low and the incentives are so high.
“Gig work” through internet applications now makes up a significant portion of the economy, and these apps have provided many people with opportunities that they wouldn't have otherwise had, but companies like Uber and Spotify have become notorious for taking advantage of their position as middlemen, leaving their customers with high prices, and their workers with low wages.
In the same way that Bitcoin cut the middlemen out of banking, Ethereum and other smart contract platforms can cut the middlemen out of the gig economy. Think of a ridesharing service where you pay much less than Uber, but the driver gets paid more, because the overhead of the business has been cut down significantly, starting with management. Consider a social media platform that allows you to control your own data and content moderation, and even allows you to monetize your attention. These types of platforms would be owned and controlled by a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) comprised by token holders, who are typically the users and developers of the platform.
There are many creative people in the world of crypto currently working on these problems, but one of the most exciting projects that has already launched is Audius, which can be described as a “Decentralized Spotify,” a streaming service owned by the musicians and their fans, where the artists will make significantly more than they are able to on services like Spotify or Pandora. The app is currently live and available for download in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. It is free for users to listen to, and musicians can easily upload their tracks, but the app is still in its beta version, so the monetization features for the artists have not been fully implemented yet.
Most of the artists currently on the platform are underground, but they have recruited some large EDM producers like Deadmau5, Rezz, 3lau as advisors, so there are bigger artists joining the platform every day. Earlier this month, it was reported that Audius now has over 3 million active users, which is impressive, especially for a blockchain-based startup. The value of the Audius token has also grown exponentially over the past month.