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Rdio pushes free playlists in latest redesign

By | Published on Thursday 4 September 2014


Rdio has announced a tweak of its business model (and a bigger tweak of its platform) this morning, which largely highlights that it’s still playing catch up with its more successful competitors. The main changes are the launch of a new ad-funded freemium model and the more proactive pushing of ready-made playlists to users, leaving the fully on-demand service more in the background.

The new version of the software displays various playlists and albums based on each user’s musical tastes, when they first log in to both the desktop or mobile versions. Following moves made by most other streaming services now, there is also an element of human curation to those playlists.

Rdio previously offered a six month free trial in some countries, but not a fully fledged freemium version. Until January this year, when a freemium radio option was added in the US. Newish CEO Anthony Bay then admitted that the lack of a proper freemium tier had hindered Rdio’s growth in an interview with CNET. He said then such a tier would be key to the company’s future, so today’s announcement, which will see the ad-funded radio go live in 20 more countries, is not exactly a surprise.

Speaking to the New York Times ahead of today’s launch, Bay said: “What we’ve learned collectively over the last few years is that the most successful models are freemium models”.

Meanwhile, on the more proactive pushing of playlists, SVP Product Chris Becherer told Music Ally: “We’re restructuring the apps to be stations-first. We don’t think any service out there is doing a good job of pairing those lean-back and lean-forward experiences”.

Whether Rdio can both do that and convince users that it is the best choice, in the face of stiff competition from Pandora, Spotify and, soon, Apple with Beats (or whatever it turns Beats into), remains to be seen.