Business Matters: Rdio Unveils Free Listening Option
Business Matters: Rdio Unveils Free Listening Option

Australia's streaming music marketplace is finally making strides with the launch this week of Rdio and Omnifone-powered Rara.com.

Rdio monthly subscriptions are priced at Australian $8.90 ($9.25) for Net-only access or Australian $12.90 ($13.40) for unlimited access via Rdio's mobile plus web applications. Unlimited access to the service through its iPad service is priced at Australian $20.99 ($21.80). Rdio is currently offering Australians a seven-day free trial subscription.

The debut of Rdio here follows a quiet, soft launch of the service a few weeks ago, which was plagued with patchy content. Tracks by M83, She & Him and LMFAO, for example, were in the system, but when the user clicked through they were met with a notice explaining "currently unavailable for full-length streaming in your region." Judging by user comments on the Net, the service gets the thumbs up, but those licensing glitches haven't been entirely ironed out.

Rdio entered Brazil late last year and more recently started up in Germany, following earlier arrivals in the U.S. and Canada.

Rara.com, a new take on music subscription services, launched last December in 16 territories including the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Sweden. This week, it's extended its footprint with roll-outs in Australia, Canada and Singapore. That aggressive expansion strategy should see the Rara double its number of markets by year's end, according to the company.

Australian users will have access to a catalog of more than 10 million tracks, according to the company, with tracks licensed from each of the four majors.

Access is priced at Australian $0.99 ($1.04) for the first three months. After that, a monthly fee of Australian $7.99 ($8.30) for online access will apply. Mobile access on Android smartphones is Australian $2.99 ($3.12) per month for the first three months then Australian $12.99 ($13.50) per month.

Rara reckons the new service will be pre-loaded on the "vast majority" of Australia, Singapore and Canada HP PCs.

Australia's market for streaming music services is still in its infancy, though the recent launch of JB Hi-Fi's "Now" service and the imminent arrival of Spotify in these shores has the local industry buzzing. Deezer, Songl and MOG are all expected to arrive Down Under in the not-too-distant future.

"Australia has a unique, thriving music culture that boasts a wealth of music artists across all genres" comments Drew Larner, Rdio CEO, in a statement. "We believe Australians will be extremely excited about discovering new local and international music and accessing their digital music collections through any platform they want."

Digital music sales in 2011 are more than 30 percent ahead of where they were in 2010, according to industry sources. Digital revenue Down Under now accounts for 40 percent of all sales, up from 27 percent in 2010. Soon, the Australian market will be evenly split between physical and digital sales.