The landgrab for music streaming customers is on, and Rdio — the U.S.-based startup from Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis — is joining that race in earnest.
The company today announced that it is now live in Spain and Portugal, just one month after it launched its first European service, in Germany. The total number of countries where Rdio now works is up to eight, including the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Germany, Australia and New Zealand — and hints that there will be more to come.
The market for music streaming services is getting increasingly crowded – we highlighted one of the more recent, from the music magazine Spin, just yesterday – and while some of these do not directly compete against each other for straight subscriptions, they are competing against each other for attention from consumers. And it’s not just limited to what is happening in the U.S., either. Rhapsody last month expanded its hitherto U.S.-only service to Europe.
For now it appears that Spotify is the one to beat. Last month, the company revealed that it has now racked up 3 million subscribers, up from 2.5 million in November 2011, and its conversion rates, taking free/trial users to paid services, is also on the rise.
Rdio has not released an updated subscriber figure — although we have reached out to the company to try to pin one down.
Unlike Spotify — which offers different service tiers including an ad-funded, free listening option in some markets — Rdio has taken a different approach, offering
only paid, unlimited services, guaranteeing no ads in the process. In October 2011, it also launched a free service — still ad-free, but with metered usage.
(That might also have stemmed from a lesson learned by Zennström and Friis from their Skype days: that service, which is now getting acquired by Microsoft, to this day has not managed to convert most of its unlimited, free users to enhanced, paying options.)
Here, users get access to 12 million songs, either for €4.99 for web-only access or €9.99 for web, mobile and other platform access. The latter can be used on iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 devices, as well as through the Sonos wireless audio system.
In addition to straight song search-and-play options, Rdio also offers users an offline listening mode, recommendations, and various of social features such as playlist sharing and collaboration.
While music streaming has had a lot of buzz in markets like the U.S. – due in part to the growth of services like Pandora and Rhapsody, but also because of the delayed and much-anticipated entry of Spotify last year – it will be interesting to see how services like Rdio gain traction in markets like Spain and Portugal. There could be a greenfield opportunity in any case: as TNW points out, Spotify only has a limited service in both markets at the moment.