Say hello to what might be the most frightening app in existence for the music business.
Aurous is a music streaming app/website built on similar technology to Popcorn Time, the copyright-infringing streaming movie and TV service that is now one of the 5,000 most popular websites in the world.
Like Popcorn Time, Aurous is based on a decentralised BitTorrent search engine.
In plain terms, that means it doesn’t use any external servers for its main features – it mainly relies on a scan of archives on illegal P2P sites, where files are usually hosted by users themselves (‘seeders’).
Unlike Popcorn Time, Aurous is solely focused on the music industry. Or to put it another way, Aurous wants to do to Spotify what Popcorn Time has done to Netflix.
The big sell to ad-averse music fans is that, unlike Spotify’s freemium tier, Aurous won’t carry any interruptive audio ads.
You can probably tell as much from its tagline: “Enjoy music how you want to for free.”
Aurous will enter a public Alpha stage on October 10, when the wider world will be able to get its hands on the app.
For now, consider this: Aurous streams a huge amount of free music, acts like Spotify and looks quite a lot like Spotify. But there’s literally no incentive for its users to pay any money to rightsholders.
Due to its ability to scan P2P archives, Aurous will also offer music even Spotify doesn’t have – including the Beatles and Taylor Swift.
“FROM TIME TO TIME YOU MIGHT SEE A BANNER AD. HOWEVER, IT WON’T INTERRUPT YOUR STREAMS/MUSIC PLAYBACK. NOR WILL YOU EVER HEAR AN AUDIO ADVERT.”
ANDREW SAMPSON, AUROUS
Development has been headed up by coder Andrew Sampson, building upon his existing BitTorrent search engine Strike Search.
“Even if as a project, development stopped and we shut down our website, the app would still continue functioning without any problems,” Sampson told Torrentfreak.
“It can look through entire BitTorrent archives in milliseconds to get individual files.”
Sampson is clearly being very careful to define Aurous as a search engine for illegal files, rather than a host.
By not hosting any illegal content, Team Aurous can presumably point to Safe Harbour laws in the EU protecting those that are a ‘mere conduit’ to the consumption of copyright-infringing material.
Torrentfreak got early access to Aurous and concluded: “Searching for content is a breeze and in our limited tests results appeared and played quickly.”
Aurous will apparently become available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and IOS devices – should Apple approve it.
Will it be monetised? Yes and no.
“In terms of financial support Aurous will be completely free,” added Sampson.
“From time to time you may see a banner based ad or sponsored content, however none of these will interrupt your streams/music playback nor will you ever hear an audio advertisement.
“Of course we will provide people with other options to get rid of ads entirely.”
The music business managed to get rid of Grooveshark just four months ago, complete with a grovelling apology to labels for the years of torment it unleashed.
Grooveshark, lest we forget, offered instant online streams of a huge catalogue of music. It was brought down by the fact that it was busted hosting copyright material.
Aurous says it will offer a similar fan-facing service, but without hosting a single file.
And that’s precisely what makes it so dangerous.