The online streaming music market that Rdio helped pioneer is now very crowded. Jay Z is making headlines with Tidal, Spotify may soon add a video component, and all signs point to Apple Music being launched on stage by Dr. Dre at June’s WWDC. As such, Rdio has resorted to bargain bin pricing with a new $3.99 monthly price tier dubbed Rdio Select.
Of course, you get what you pay for. The $3.99 option only gets you monthly access to a Pandora-like list of ad-free and somewhat-personalized radio stations and access to up to 25 songs a day (with a downloaded songs cap also set at 25). Subscribers are able to skip ahead in these radio stations as much as they want, and change out as much of their downloaded songs list as they’d like -- as long as they stay under the cap of 25 tracks.
Rdio will continue to also offer its more-traditional Rdio Unlimited service for $9.99 a month, which offers unlimited on-demand listening and limitless downloads.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Rdio CEO Anthony Bay claimed that 25 songs “is more than most users download in a day, so we feel it’s enough.” With many of its competitors starting at $9.99, this may be the only area where Rdio (which doesn't offer system integration, exclusive content or lossless audio) can find a way to differentiate its service. Making an unfortunate comparison, Bay also stated, “We’ve all been flying airplanes that had business class only … There is no coach,” as if anybody ever preferred to fly coach.
With Spotify's dominance and the all-but-imminent launch of Apple Music, having the cheapest non-free service may be the only way for Rdio to stay in the streaming music conversation. Rdio already offers discounts for students and families, and going after frugal music fans may prove to be its best bet for survival, especially in an industry that has long frustrated shoppers with overpriced CDs and inexplicable service charges for concert ticket purchases.
Rdio Select is available today on iOS and Android, with a 60-day free trial for those who want to try before they subscribe.
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