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Summary:

After two months in invite-only beta, streaming music service Rdio will enter general availability Tuesday morning, offering unlimited access to a library of seven million songs for a flat fee of $5 for desktop service and $10 to add a mobile component.

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Streaming music site Rdio will exit its invite-only phase Tuesday morning, allowing anyone in the U.S. or Canada to sign up for its $5-per-month, all-you-can-stream Web subscription service or a $10-per-month plan that adds a mobile component. Along with granting wider access, the company formally announced support for Android devices in addition to previously-supported iPhones and BlackBerry devices, and revealed the addition of music from key indie distributor IODA to its catalog, which is now 7 million songs and growing.

It’s been two months since Rdio’s beta launch, with all four major record labels and indie aggregators including The Orchard and INgrooves on board since its early-June introduction. CEO Drew Larner wouldn’t say how many paying customers have signed up, nor would he discuss its conversion rate from free trials, but since the service is inherently heavily social, it’s apparent that Rdio is gaining some traction as play counts rise and playlists are shared. I’ve been using its Web service daily, and have lived with it on my iPhone for a couple of months. (Disclosure: I’m enjoying a free trial courtesy of Rdio.)

Rdio competes most directly with cloud-based rival MOG — which launched in December 2009, and added a mobile service for Android and iPhone last month — as well as legacy service Rhapsody and mobile-heavy Thumbplay. (If it ever launches in the U.S., the now-comically-delayed Spotify has surely lost potential paying customers to all of them.) I see Rdio sporting an edge in social features and seamless, pop up-free user interface, while MOG still sports a deeper catalog, better customizable radio, and a more feature-rich iPhone app. Rdio promises a revamp of its iPhone app soon (it’d help), and has already introduced more features for Android and BlackBerry handsets. MOG, it’s worth noting, has cleaned up most, if not all, of the glitches I reported in my last post about them; it’s also worth mentioning that MOG doesn’t yet support multitasking while Rdio does.

I’ve been fairly skeptical of the idea that cloud-based services will suddenly prompt people to rent music rather than own it, and have cited several reasons why the new services have left me a little cold. That said, Rdio has just addressed one of my concerns, adding gapless playback for albums whose tracks run together. It works (most of the time) during desktop playback only, but I’m told that mobile is next. While my gripe seemed nitpicky to some, this is actually a substantial differentiator for fans of classical and electronic music, prog-rock, and live albums, among others. Uninterrupted applause to Rdio for dealing with it; it’s passed my test already.

Even if the mobile versions are still a little clumsy at times, Rdio and MOG are inexpensive desktop options that reliably complement the music I already own, while offering superior experiences to free options like YouTube and Grooveshark. I still haven’t seen a service that has everything I want, but Rdio is a fine supplementary service, if not a replacement for music ownership. I’m still waiting for Apple and Google to make their moves in cloud music, but for an avid listener like me, at the very reasonable $5-per-month, all-you-can-stream price point for the desktop, it’d be hard to say Rdio isn’t worth it.

By Paul Bonanos

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  1. i love the rdio service, but it’s telling that most of the people who i followed when the service launched this summer haven’t logged on in 4-6 weeks.

    that’s not promising — these are music junkies, and if the product’s not sticky enough to keep them coming back, it’s not going to work with the consumer mass market in the long term.

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  2. i try the free-invite service… service seem clear and nice, but once the invite is over…. my listening to rdio is over as well. free should probably ad supported… not everyone want to pay a monthly. i would go to pandora or grooveshark for my listening needs.

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  3. Really? Gapless playback was a concern? Not the $4.99 to $9.99 price tag to stream music that you already own? I used rdio in the gym I belong to and it is neat but is it pay for neat, not really. What I’m looking is this type of service with a eMusic type subscription (I know, I know , boo, hiss, stupid subscription model). I’ll gladly pay $9.99 for 25 mp3s (actuals files not some locked up file) plus streaming per month. To me that is premium, not paying extra so you can stream to your cell phone. In my search I did find moozone.com (really stupid name), it’s more old school in that they give 2 gigs of storage to upload whatever you want and you can make and share playlists and I think stream to Android (other devices coming) for free. Also buying music is the same as rdio and mog at $.99 but you do get 100 MB of storage added to your pool for every song you buy so at least you are getting something. Really? Gapless playback was a concern? Not the $4.99 to $9.99 price tag to stream music that you already own? I used rdio in the gym I belong to and it is neat but is it pay for neat, not really. What I’m looking is this type of service with a eMusic type subscription (I know, I know , boo, hiss, stupid subscription model). I’ll gladly pay $9.99 for 25 mp3s (actuals files not some locked up file) plus streaming per month. To me that is premium, not paying extra so you can stream to your cell phone. In my search I did find moozone.com (really stupid name), it’s more old school in that they give 2 gigs of storage to upload whatever you want and you can make and share playlists and I think stream to Android (other devices coming) for free. Also buying music is the same as rdio and mog at $.99 but you do get 100 MB of storage added to your pool for every song you buy so at least you are getting something. http://moozone.com/playlist/107975

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  4. [...] tell us what you like, and whether it might be worth the monthly outlay, in the comments. [Rdio via GigaOM] [...]

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  5. Well I think that Rdio is biting a bit Hitlantis…bubbles… lol

    http://img833.imageshack.us/img833/662/rdiovshitlantis.png

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  6. [...] over $50 million in funding and is rumored to be profitable based on its European operations alone. The company has struggled to find a toehold in the all-important U.S. market. Anyway when I think of acquirers for Spotify – and [...]

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  7. [...] million in funding, and is rumored to be profitable based on its European operations alone, but has struggled to find a toehold in the all-important U.S. market. If the 2010 success is any indication, the company [...]

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  8. Forgive me, but I still like the word “free”, not because I want to rip off musicians (especially being one), but because I hold to the old world belief that music is a service, not a product (a belief that worked just fine before the phonograph came along and one that the gutsier artists are already flourishing under, while corporate weasels and the 6 figure billboard-ers whose soul they bought last century get their VIP asses kicked by generation Napster)

    So, if you don’t mind shelling out the five spot (which isn’t bad if it didn’t involve the old “here’s my credit card number to do with what you like. Go ahead and overcharge me for something I didn’t agree to while I search every crevice of your website to find the “cancel” link.), then rdio is your new home.

    For those who prefer to keep their plastic in their wallet which they kick back to some tunes, here’s the skinny:

    For a century, once they learned how to capture music and sell it and commercialized it and ruined it, we have been owned and manipulated by corporate record labels and force-fed crap for what got to be, at the end of that dark period, a CD full of fluff (like :20 tracks of garbage) for 20 dollars!! 20 bucks for what?

    These corporate stuff-shirts muscled in and basically turned the musician into a vagabond begging these all powerful A and R’s to “like” their stuff, so they sell-out, wear a pink clown suit or whatever’s “hot” just so this guy could shine em up and merchandise them, then sell them for outrageous money and take 90%, only to change the direction of the social wind, i order to keep things fresh and new. Then they dump the drug addict musician who they pumped full of drugs and women for years, while they milked them dry.

    BUT GUESS WHAT??? It’s all over!! Yes, indeed, we are in a golden age, my friends! First it was Napster. Now we could download music free and put them on our CD’s (which we still paid for) Well, the CEO’s said, “No way!” and took the downloaders to task, scaring them with a handful of illegal lawsuits.

    Then they got their hoes, I mean the artists on their labels (all the big ones) to come out and say, “Please you are stealing from us!” They tightened up for a minute, but the floodgates were opened!! (sorry, I get teary eyed just thinking about all the music pimps who are out of work! lol)

    So, they got with napster and decided to charge people, and the sheep bit, somehow feeling vindicated by dropping the 9.99 or whatever. But you had grokster and limewire and this and that.

    Also, what was happening was the other million artists in the world loved it. They threw their stuff all over the place and the ones that were signed but treated like crap because they weren’t the cash cow, said, “screw you” and thought innovatively. Make your money at shows, get supported by donations from your fanbase, street corner musicians.

    Names like RadioHead started give stuff out. Musicians HATE the labels and more and more and more are down with the web. They just want a way to get paid and the more adventurous ones are doing just that. Instead of music being a microcosm of the US, where 2% control 98% of the money, a whole host of mid-level artists, who are just as talented and FREE to express, are now given a way to do just that and be heard.

    Oh, but the vermon were squirming. They were trying everything. LaLa (which got bought up by Apple) started the STREAMING” oh new thing. (Keep in mind, by now, half the country already had an MP3 collection beyond their dreams and the other half were only kept at bay by fear and guilt tactics.) So, now they take all the music in the world and organize it nice and pretty with the covers and stuff, and the let us share all of our music, which we were already doing, but they will pretty it up and, GET THIS, they will let us share on facebook with one click ohhhh.

    They’ll also offer these little crappy features and charge you to enjoy the experience with them. OK. Meanwhile the hackers are out making software that rips the stream out of the air, for free. Not to mention, you got grooveshark, which hangs right in there at the end of the day, since it’s the same internet; they only change the way they decorate the stuff.

    They are just about at the end of their rope with this crap. Sianara, vermin. I personally have more music than I could handle right now, so I’m good. They have nothing more for me. Grooveshar will grow and something else will be out until we finally get to the inevitable end of all this.

    FREE MUSIC FOR ALL!! SAVE YOUR MONEY (although it’s about so much more than the 5 spot.

    Hey, for what it’s worth, it was a great article, informative, and that’s what you do. No offense, but this is the final act. Then, it’s curtains.

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  9. [...] subscription service Rdio, which exited beta last summer, has added a new platform for its on-demand streaming music library: Roku broadband set-top boxes. [...]

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