Sona’s free music streaming service lets bands auction one-off ‘digital twin’ songs

Sona streaming app
(Image credit: Sona)

According to Sona, a Web 3.0 protocol "music streaming is broken" – and in a week when Spotify announced massive layoffs shortly after saying it'll stop paying royalties to thousands of artists, it's hard to disagree. But does Sona have a better option?

Sona says yes. It's a new streaming service called Sona Stream that promises to reward artists properly. According to its site, it's "an artist-centric streaming platform that tilts streaming economics back in your favor. We connect you with the superfans and collectors who want to support your growth so you can keep more of the value you create with your music."

For music fans, it's like one of the best music streaming service without any ads or subscription fees. But for artists, it offers two ways to get paid. The first is by getting a pro-rata share of the total streams on the service, and the second is by selling SONAs. And SONAs are what makes this service unique.

What are SONAs?

According to the service, SONAs are "your ride-or-dies". They're songs or other digital assets sold via auction, and only one person can own a SONA at any given time (although they can trade and resell them if they wish). If that sounds like NFTs for music, that's pretty much what SONAs are. 

Speaking to Techcrunch, co-founder Jennifer Lee – better known as DJ and producer TOKiMONSTA – explained that while SONAs sound like NFTs, they're not quite the same. "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." Which begs the question: what exactly are you paying for here if you don't own what you're buying?

Music NFTs aren't completely new. Grimes famously made $6 million selling NFTs a few years ago, there's a marketplace for them at and artists are interested in them as a way to generate income from fans when streaming barely pays the studio coffee bill, never mind the recording costs. But the problem with NFTs of any stripe is that effectively you're being sold something that doesn't exist – and as we've seen with the NFT art market, NFTs can lose some or all of their value if the market gets spooked. According to a recent report into NFTs by dappGambl, 23 million people's NFT investments are currently completely worthless. So you might want to approach the idea of music NFTs, or similar SONAs, with a certain amount of scepticism. 

You can find out for yourself: Sona has launched as a beta at SONA collectors must be over 18 and resident in the US.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.