Streaming music service Rdio from Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, is today launching two new music gifting options – physical gift cards and online credits. Consumers will be able to purchase the virtual gift card options in $10, $25, $50 and $100 values or in user-selected amounts. Meanwhile, physical cards in the $10 and $25 values will be sold in over 600 Target retail stores here in the U.S.
The Rdio Gift Card is flexible in that it doesn’t specify how the money has to be used. The recipient can choose to use it towards their monthly subscription, offline music downloads or with the recently announced Rdio Unlimited Family Plan.
Rdio vs. iTunes – “Rent” vs. “Own”
The gift cards are the first time that Rdio is being sold in retail stores in the U.S. Although they’ll be sold alongside top competitor iTunes, the two services are actually quite different. iTunes charges you for the music you download, which can then be saved and synced to your Apple devices. Rdio, instead, provides streaming access to all the music in its catalog of nearly 11 million songs for a monthly fee. In other words, with iTunes you own the music you buy, but with Rdio, for the most part, you rent it.
Like Apple’s forthcoming iTunes Match service, Rdio also employs a matching tool which scours your local library (in iTunes or Windows Media Player) to look for the names of artists, albums and songs that are already available in its catalog. This is included with Rdio’s monthly fee, but Apple will charge $25/year to do the same. However, Apple will also upgrade tracks to a high-quality, DRM-format when performing its match.
In addition, Rdio users can buy select tracks for offline listening, if desired – a feature that’s more on par with the traditional iTunes offering. Often this option is due to the music labels and/or rightsholders’ restrictions on streaming.