Rdio launches US streaming service, Merlin not best pleased

By | Published on Wednesday 4 August 2010

As Spotify’s negotiations with the major labels in order to launch in the US continue, the company has been pipped to the post by new kids on the block, Rdio, which came out of private beta yesterday. Although not a free service, Rdio offers a similar a similar subscription model to Spotify’, giving users unlimited web streaming for $4.99 a month and the ability to add Android, iPhone and BlackBerry access for $9.99 a month.

However, with content on the service pulled from all four majors, plus digital distributors IODA, IRIS, The Orchard and Finetunes, indie label trade body Merlin has criticised the company for launching without a deal with them in place.

Merlin CEO Charles Caldas said in a statement yesterday afternoon: “It is incredibly disappointing that Rdio have launched their new service across North America without having finalised a deal for the world’s most important independent labels and artists. We are surprised that a service, whose success would seem dependent on offering its consumers a comprehensive choice of repertoire, would launch without giving those consumers access to the leading global independent labels we represent, and their artists”.

Rdio quickly responded to Caldas’ statement, telling MusicAlly: “Rdio plans to offer its subscribers the widest range of music and today we announced the addition of five new indie aggregators bringing our total collection to seven million songs. It is our policy not to comment on specific deal negotiations until they’re completed, so we hope MusicAlly readers will understand our reluctance to provide further detail”.

Meanwhile, Spotify has refuted claims made by Billboard last week that it had been forced to go “back to square one” with its US negotiations. Recently appointed US managing director Kenneth Parks told the trade mag: “We are in fact in a good place with our label negotiations. We’re confident in our US launch later this year”.