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

Music subscription services not named Spotify are scrambling right now to both use Spotify's launch as a means of drawing attention to their own offerings, as well as fending off the challenges Spotify's launch here creates.

Rdio, the youngest subscription music service that launched only last year, is no different. Last night, CEO Drew Larner revealed plans to offer a new subscription plan called "unlimited family," which will allow multiple users to share an account at a discounted rate.

The company is not revealing any further details about it at this time, only saying it will host a simulcast press conference/demo in the coming weeks. The devil will surely be in the details as at first blush it's difficult to understand why a family just can't share one of Rdio's existing accounts instead of setting up multiple ones. Likely, the family plan will allow for easier distinction between family member's playlists, friends lists, libraries, etc. But we'll see.

Meanwhile, Rdio is also waiting on Apple's approval for a new iPad app. That would make it the first of the subscription services to create a native app specifically for the tablet device.

According to details shared with TechCrunch (http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/19/rdio-ipad-app/) it allows users to do much the same things as they can do on the web-based version of the service, but with a slick, iPad-friendly interface that has reviewers raving.

Rdio, and other incumbent streaming services, have their work cut out for them in the wake of Spotify's high-profile U.S. launch. With Spotify getting all the attention, these other services are battling not only a PR war, but also a features war. Now these new updates from Rdio are not just some PR response to Spotify's launch, but rather a part of the natural process of iteration of any tech company. However, it's hard not to view them through the lens of a post-Spotify world, mainly because of the wide gap between user response to both services.

Neither Spotify nor Rdio have yet discussed U.S. subscriber numbers, but the word from Billboard sources is that Spotify could have as many as 70,000 subscribers (http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/digital-and-mobile/spotify-u-s-70-000-reasons-to-believe-the-1005289682.story) after just a week, while Rdio is estimated to have about half that after almost a year.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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