Decentralisation and Neoliberalisation: Artist, Audience, and Agency in the Blockchain-Based Music Platform Audius


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This paper examines how the blockchain-based music streaming platform Audius offers a decentralised alternative to centralised platforms like Spotify, taking the practice of releasing a single on Audius as the object of research. The main research inquiry is how Audius mediates the interaction between artist and audience. While it shows that blockchain technology offers new and creative ways of interaction, this paper argues that ‘decentralisation’ reproduces existing inequalities and thrives on a neoliberal ideology that imposes a financial logic in everyday musicking practices. This paper identifies two neoliberal tendencies in particular: the tokenisation of governance and the financialisation of fandom.
Following Nelson’s model for Practice as Research (PaR), this study consists of a research project that gathers practical knowledge through the release, and a complementary writing which reflects on the practice and places it within an artistic and academic context. The research project is documented through screenshots and the streamable single on Audius and is a collaboration with friend and fellow musician Calvin Rodgers.
This research builds on José van Dijck's model to analyse platforms as “techno-cultural constructs” and "socioeconomic structures," drawing on Actor-Network-Theory and Political Economy (The Culture 28). The concepts of 'user/usage,' 'technology,' and 'content' guide my practice, while I reflect on the 'ownership,' 'business model,' and 'governance' of the platform. Using the practical approach of the 'walkthrough method' by Light et al., I guide the reader through the practice of releasing a single on Audius, taking special consideration of the affordances that Audius creates and for whom.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2022
EventInternet Musicking : Popular Music and Online Cultures - University of Cork, Cork, Ireland
Duration: 20 May 202221 Jun 2022 (Conference program)


ConferenceInternet Musicking
Internet address


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