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

Streaming music service Rdio has been pretty quiet since it launched to great expectations last year. But this week the company began making some noise.

Fresh off the heels of its API integration with the Echo Nest, Rdio today (May 4) unveiled a deal with Verizon Wireless to not only add the Rdio app to the mobile operator's stable of VCast apps, but also pay for their Rdio subscriptions and downloads via the Verizon billing system. The deal is limited to Verizon's Android fleet of phones, not the iPhone. Users can get a seven-day free trial, after which the $10 monthly fee kicks in.

This is kind of a big deal, because Verizon has until now been firmly in bed with Rhapsody, which was the first to get access to Verizon's billing system for its monthly subscriber fees. To be fair, Rhapsody still has the preferred relationship, as Verizon embeds the music service in several of its mobile phones. Verizon, for instance, will add Rhapsody to select devices on its so-called "4G" broadband LTE network.

Integrating a monthly subscription fee for music into an existing subscription, like that for mobile phones, is considered a key strategy for the on-demand streaming market. The idea is that by bundling services, more users will be willing to pay the monthly fee. Rhapsody, for instance, credits its Verizon relationship for the bulk of last year's increase in subscribers, which now stands at 750,000 users.

Rdio has not revealed subscriber numbers, but it is assumed to be far lower than Rhapsody, which is fair as it's not even been an active service for a full year. We hear that additional API deals are in the works from Rdio. More details could be coming as early as next week.