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Rdio gloats over Spotify and Deezer’s Swifty situation

By | Published on Monday 10 November 2014

Taylor Swift

Following its initial song and dance (ie blog post) about Taylor Swift pulling her catalogue off its service last week, Spotify remained very quiet on the matter as debate over the move rumbled on in tech and music business circles. As did all the other streaming companies, including Deezer, which also lost the singer’s music.

But then on Friday, Rdio realised that still having everything Swift’s ever released, bar latest album ‘1989’, could be an opportunity to gain some ground. And so Rdio CEO Anthony Bay issued a statement declaring that: “Rdio listeners benefit from our longtime commitment to respecting the choices artists and their labels make about how their songs should be distributed. Let’s always remember that artists deserve a say in how their music is shared with their fans”.

He was, of course, referring to Spotify’s insistence that any music it has in its system is made available to customers at all pricing tiers, from freemium to full premium. Rdio, meanwhile, only allows paying subscribers to access albums in a full on-demand style, while freeloaders have to make do with the “ad-supported internet radio experience”. And as Borchetta confirmed this weekend, that limitation is sufficient to overcome his and Swift’s concerns over her music being available for free to all, while avid fans are paying.

Most of Spotify’s rivals have launched without a freemium level, instead relying on a short free trial offer, though many have subsequently followed their Swedish competitor’s lead after seeing how much quicker it signs up new users when it enters a market. Rdio’s business model has changed a number of times since its launch, originally having no freemium option, then a time limited one, and now the Pandora-style “ad-supported internet radio experience”.

Whether personalised radio can attract enough freemium users to drive sufficient premium upsells is debatable, though it could be that the Rdio approach will become the norm long-term.