A service once called the “Popcorn Time for music” by its creators has officially gone live. Aurous, a free, on-demand streaming music service with neither advertising nor licensing deals in place with artists, labels or publishers, launched in alpha mode Monday.
“Skip, shuffle and listen to music as much as you want. No more intrusive ads or random bands interrupting your playlist,” a message on the service’s website reads. “No more waiting to find that right song. Enjoy the music you want to without being tied down.”
In addition to its unbeatable price of zero dollars a month, Aurous offers a lot of features that should be attractive to avid music fans, including the ability to import playlists built in other services and easily access the music they already have stored on their hard drives.
Its founder and creator, Andrew Sampson, also claims that Aurous users will be able to compensate artists through his platform. On Monday, the company announced it had partnered with ProTip, a kind of tipping service that uses bitcoin’s blockchain technology to pay rights holders based on how much time a user spends on a site or, in this case, listening to an artist’s music.
Nearly two decades after file-sharing services like Napster, Limewire and Kazaa threatened to detonate the record business, the slow growth of ad-supported alternatives like Spotify, Pandora and others slowly began to fill the industry with optimism. In the past year, streaming has grown from the smallest share of Americans’ music consumption to the largest, and while piracy and rights infringement remains a problem in certain parts of the world, many look at piracy as a thing of the past.
In the strictest terms, Aurous is currently offering an illegal service. A quick run through the service reveals easy, instantaneous access to all kinds of music, including labels and artists who have deliberately kept their music off on-demand streaming services like Spotify. Yet Sampson has insisted that his service will prevent copyright infringement, offering a portal for rights holders looking to take down illegal content.
Last month, in responding to claims made by the British firm Rightscorp that it would be able to shut Aurous down, Sampson offered Torrentfreak some pointed remarks about how well-paid services like Spotify compensate rights holders currently. “The music industry is killing itself,” Sampson wrote. “We live in a world where licensed material can be streamed close to 200,000,000 times from Spotify and the writer for that song receives a pitiful $5,600.” Sampson’s comments likely refer to a well-publicized situation involving Kevin Kadish, co-author of the Meghan Trainor hit "All About That Bass."
Sampson has said that his service will not be easily taken down by copyright watchdogs, but it’s possible that Aurous users may have to watch their backs. To combat the threat posed by services like Popcorn Time, which offers free movies through a Netflix-like interface, rights holders have taken to filing suits against the people who are using the service, rather than trying to shut the site down directly.