Sona is a new web3 streaming protocol that uses DeFi primitives (decentralized finance basic building blocks) to put the financial power back into artists’ hands with its rewards model, auctions and ad-free streaming. Sona emerged from stealth today, announcing the open beta launch of its first product—Sona Stream, a free music streaming service with zero subscriptions or ads combined with a marketplace where artists share music and auction off SONAs, “digital twins” or digital assets of songs that can only be owned by one person at a time.
Alongside the launch news, the company also announced its $6.9 million seed funding round from Polychain Capital, Haun Ventures and Rogue Capital. The funds will be used to develop new features and hire engineers.
Sona’s marketplace allows artists to auction their SONAs to collectors for 24 hours. They set a minimum price and sell to the highest bidder, getting instant liquidity. What’s most notable is that the owner of a SONA receives 70% of the streaming payout rewards based on a pro-rata share of total streams on the platform. Meanwhile, artists get 30% and the company takes a 7% fee. Plus, the rewards pool is funded from a percentage of SONA sales, meaning each purchase supports all artists on Sona Stream. In the future, Sona will include other transactions like tipping, merchandise, ticket purchases, stem downloads and fixed-price audio downloads for DJs
“It’s pooled every two weeks and then redistributed to every artist and collector, proportional to how much [the specific song] is streamed,” co-founder Laura Jaramillo explained during a private demo. “So, you’re paying artists for their work quickly, incentivizing the creation of that work, and then also rewarding the people that are actually supporting those artists.”
The main idea with SONAs — and music NFTS in general – is that it encourages fans to invest in their favorite artists and promote their work. In this case, when a SONA owner shares the song on social media, their followers are directed to Sona Stream, helping the streaming service grow its user base and earn revenue at the same time. And unlike other music NFTs, SONAs are unrelated to royalties from other streaming platforms. Rewards are from the Sona ecosystem only.
“The artist and rightsholders retain 100% ownership of the original song — so that’s a bit different and why we don’t really see ourselves as a music NFT platform. We’re focused on the relationships between artists and fans,” co-founder Jennifer Lee, aka producer and DJ TOKiMONSTA, told us. Last year, TOKiMONSTA sold 100 editions of her latest single, Loved By U, on Sound.xyz, a marketplace for music NFTs.
Collectors must live in the U.S. and be at least 18 years old to buy a SONA. They are also allowed to sell and trade SONAs, both on Sona and third-party marketplaces.
Sona’s streaming service is currently home to five million tracks by artists Rochelle Jordan, CRi, Adam Oh, Cakes da Killa, Gavin Turek, Dakytl, Aquiles Navarro and Sara Hartman, among others. By next year, Sona will have 16 million songs on the platform.
Jaramillo, a long-time NFT product designer, created Sona to help her mother Raquel Gonzalez, a Puerto Rican artist and activist, along with other independent artists who find it difficult to earn a living off their music.
“I wanted to create something that ultimately my mom could use, who is running into some of the biggest challenges that an artist faces– building an audience and making sustainable revenue. I designed a protocol that she could use to monetize off those 100 to 1,000 true fans who want to show how much they appreciate her music, but then also have sustainable revenue coming in every two weeks and combat the fact that artists are not making that much on streaming. And if they are making something on streaming, they don’t see it for three to six months,” Jaramillo said, while also revealing to us that musical talent runs in the family. While her music career was short-lived, Jaramillo was 16 years old when she was offered a label deal.
“The secret story is that when I was when I was in elementary school to high school, I was a competing songwriter and singer who represented Puerto Rico multiple times… The [music label] wanted me to drop out of high school, move to LA and be a Latin pop star. But that was the opposite of my music. I wrote music to help you go through catharsis, so I very quickly gave up on that dream because I was like, ‘Oh, they see me as what they could sell me as and not what I can create,’” Jaramillo said.
“[Sona] is trying to make it easier for someone to enter music without completely selling out or being taken advantage of,” she added.
Sona will host its first-ever auction tomorrow, December 7 at 8 p.m., featuring TOKiMONSTA’s Grammy-nominated track Rouge. Released in 2017, the song marked her monumental return to music after her battle with moyamoya, a rare brain condition.