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OPUS | Blockchain music streaming platform

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OPUS is a blockchain-powered music streaming platform. Like traditional streaming models (Spotify, iTunes, Google Play), OPUS’s aim is to allow listeners to stream music tracks and distribute streaming royalties to artists using the OPT cryptocurrency token. OPUS uses blockchain technology to track and store the analytics of streams and to distribute streaming payments to artists in real-time. It’s currently in an active demo state, so there’s only a limited selection of their total music catalog available to check out on web and mobile, but it’s alive. 

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For an animated overview, skip the first few minutes of talking heads.

How does it work?

Listeners have access to the catalog of tracks on the OPUS web player, Android or iPhone apps. Artists are paid per stream. According to the detailed whitepaper:

“Like Spotify users, Opus users are able to listen to new music releases, with each play count generating a small amount of revenue for the artist. Opus aims to address the lack of transparency and lengthy time delays in the current royalty reporting process. Opus pays artists between 97 and 99% of the total revenue generated, with the remaining 1-3% going towards operational costs.”

Due to the files being hosted on IFPS (a powerful decentralized cloud storage system), tracks can’t be de-listed from the platform or banned due to government restrictions. It also allows OPUS to reduce its storage costs, ostensibly enabling them to provide more to the artist.

OPUS posts development updates to Medium on a monthly basis. Here’s their February 2019 update.

Who pays the artists?

Artists are paid a revenue share on the overall value of the OPT tokens (based on Ethereum). This means that the more total plays are accrued using OPUS, the higher the value of the token. Like Choon, artists are also able to split their revenue with listeners and playlist curators, incentivizing non-artist playlist compilers to engage and listen to more on the platform. Crowdfunding future releases will also be made possible through the service. 

However, as mentioned in a Twitter discussion with similar service Musicoin, the information on actual payouts into crypto (and hopefully fiat currency) is still very opaque. It is apparently still too early for many of these platforms to publish a clear step-by-step process on how artists are able to earn, withdraw and convert their streams into dollars until such time when rent is paid in crypto. If anyone would care to explain this to me in simple terms, I’d be happy to update this paragraph with the facts. 

Who is it for?

Their roadmap suggests global domination – same as everyone else – but OPUS seems to be focusing on tech-savvy users first. From their whitepaper:

“OPUS will aim its marketing primarily at people already familiar with this technology and its benefits. These enthusiasts will form the group of first users of the platforms. OPUS is in the process of on-boarding hundreds of independent and less established artists seeking fair compensation for their work. This is achieved by working closely with small, independent labels, music executives, artists with a vast network within the music industry, and word-of-mouth.”

What’s different about it?

While the web and Android apps are both in need of further development, the OPUS whitepaper inspires more confidence than most. The company’s emphasis on the user experience and transparency is light years ahead of many other music streaming platforms powered by blockchain

Unlike existing streaming services, OPUS is API-based. This means that any company will be able to integrate the OPUS protocol and environment within their own player. Doing so allows OPUS a significant competitive advantage. It allows OPUS to act as the foundation upon which different players can operate within the music space.

The primary goal of OPUS is “to shine light on the technology to a mainstream audience.” In other words, it’s not good enough having a solid idea but an app that fans are too scared to recommend to their friends in case it crashes and they look silly. The technology has to be robust. The web and mobile versions of the platform are currently only demos, but it appears that they’re taking the development and UX more seriously than most. 

How to submit your music

1. Register as an artist
2. Create artist or band
3. Complete artist profile
4. Create new wallet (import your existing address)
5. Create new release
6. Upload audio and artwork. Simple. 

My artist pick

The music represents only a limited selection of the total number of registered artists at this stage. I’ll have to update this once the site it fully operational. Stay tuned to me on Twitter.

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