The release of a piece of software in ’0.1 Alpha’ is rarely big news, but it is for Aurous, with its slogan of ‘Enjoy music how you want to for free’.
As we reported in mid-September, it’s trying to do for music what Popcorn Time did for movies: a slick, easy-to-use app streaming content from across the internet, including torrents. Its 0.1 Alpha version was made available for Windows, Macs and Linux computers on Saturday.
Its website pitches to “the average person” as well as “power users” and “geeks”, with the first of those the group that is likely to spook rightsholders the most. “We’ve made it easier than ever to search for the songs you want,” claims Aurous. “Skip, shuffle and listen to music as much as you want. No more intrusive ads or random bands interrupting your playlist.”
Its ability to import playlists from Spotify, YouTube and Pandora aims to make switching from those free services as simple as possible.
For now, Aurous is an ad-supported play, although those revenues will not – for now – be redistributed in the form of direct licensing agreements with labels and publishers.
Developer Andrew Sampson claimed in late September that his team was “creating a content-id system and DMCA portal so we can ensure Aurous does not infringe on anyone’s copyrights”, while the Aurous Twitter account claimed today that it plans to use a bitcoin-based micropayments system called ProTip to enable users to tip artists – although we wonder how many of its “average person” users will be au fait with cryptocurrency.
Aurous isn’t the musical-piracy apocalypse that it’s being painted as in some quarters: where music differs from movies is the existence of Spotify, Pandora and other free, licensed streaming services with minimal barriers to entry for new users. This is no Popcorn Time in that respect.
Yet Aurous will be seen as unwanted competition by those services as well as their licensing partners, even if the latter will be wary of the whack-a-mole potential of trying to shut it down. If it picks up traction beyond people who already know their way around torrent clients, though, they will surely take action.