Hardly two days have passed since Spotify began allowing unlimited access to its free streaming service, but another major competitor has already stepped up to the plate with a major transition of its own. Rdio, one of the last bastions for premium desktop music services without ad-supported streaming, has finally gone free. Rdio announced on its blog that it has “added in-stream messaging to Rdio on the web,” short ads for free users who don’t want to subscribe. Rdio will still maintain its $9.99 per month subscription service, dubbed Rdio Unlimited, for users who want to avoid the ads. Now that all the major streaming services have settled into a comfortable equilibrium, the impending launch of the subcription-only Beats Music is going to be even more interesting.
In order to stay competitive with other popular music streaming services, Rdio has come to a deal with Cumulus Media in order to offer a free version of its service by the end of the year. According to the New York Times, Cumulus Media operates 525 radio stations, which means Rdio will have access to a huge selection of ad-supported music. This deal with Rdio represents its “digital play,” says Cumulus CEO Lewis W. Dickey Jr. There was no money involved in the deal; instead Cumulus is gaining a large share of the equity of Rdio’s parent company, Pulser Media. Cumulus will also be selling ads for the free version of Rdio’s service. There’s no telling whether or not this will be enough to topple Spotify, but it’s a move in the right direction for Rdio.
The past year was a good year for the music industry as sales rose to their best highest point in eight years. According to the IFPI’s annual Recording Industry In Numbers report, revenue from physical media fell by 8.7%, compared with 13.8% in 2010, but were vinyl sales up nearly 29%. Digital revenue continued to grow, increasing 8%, compared to 5.6% in 2010, with digital track sales growing 19% to 3.7 billion songs. Australia leads the way in the digital space with 60% growth, compared with 8% growth in the U.S. and 10% in the U.K. $1.27 billion in digital singles were sold in the U.S., while the U.K. accounted for $176.2 million. Digital sales made up 31% of the total revenue of the music market and reached $5.3 billion in sales. Overall global music revenue fell by just 3% in the last year, however. “2011 marked the least negative result in global recorded music sales since 2004, when revenues were flat,” the report read. The IFPI credits services like Spotify, iTunes, and unlimited-access operators like Rdio, MOG and Rhapsody for bringing new revenue models to customers that have helped the U.S. music market. More →
Google recently sent out invitations to an event on November 16th, during which the company will make a “special announcement.” The invite’s tagline says: “These go to eleven,” a famous quote from the popular comedy This is Spinal Tap that takes you behind the scenes of a rock band. The quote suggests Google’s event will have some sort of music focus, however Google also sent along an image of a T-Mobile logo spray painted on a building, so perhaps we’ll hear about a new phone instead. We’ll keep you updated with all of the details when the event kicks off at 5:00 p.m. EST on November 16th. Hit the jump for a teaser image provided by Google. More →
Facebook will launch a music service on September 22nd, CNBC reported today. There are currently no details on whether it will be a streaming subscription service or simply a music storefront similar to iTunes, and Facebook has not yet confirmed the announcement. Business Insider said the Facebook music service will integrate with other third party services such as Spotify and Rdio. CNBC also suggested Facebook will work with MOG, another music service that has a long-standing relationship with Facebook. Spotify and Rdio currently allow users to integrate with social networks to share songs and playlists with friends. More →