The next generation of in-car music entertainment has moved up a gear following the announcement that U.K.-based music streaming service rara.com has partnered with BMW to launch what is billed as the first direct-to-car music streaming service in Europe.
 
Exclusive to the new range of BMW’s 5 Series, the in-car ConnectedDrive Online Entertainment pack, featuring the rara.com music streaming app, launches this week with in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. The service will roll out to Spain next year.     
 
Unlike most other in-car streaming services currently available throughout Europe, rara.com’s fully integrated offering is built into the vehicle allowing users to instantly stream music without needing to plug in a smartphone, SIM card or dongle. Earlier this year, Spotify announced that it had partnered with car manufacturer Volvo to launch its own in-car streaming service via the voice-activated Sensus Connected Touch in-car entertainment system. However, the Spotify service requires a mobile phone, or 3G or 4G dongle to enable access. Other in-car music streaming services available in Europe have also typically required connection with a smartphone, SIM card or dongle to function.   
 
Rara.com’s service, which is powered by Omnifone and underpinned by European mobile network Vodafone, provides users with 12 months unlimited access to rara.com’s catalog of 14 million tracks and over 200 specially curated music channels, including repertoire from all the major labels, global rights agency Merlin and leading independent distributors, including The Orchard, INgrooves, Believe Digital, [PIAS] and VidZone Digital Media.
 
Thanks to an international deal between rara.com, BMW and Vodafone - the first of its kind in the automotive industry, according to rara.com - subscribers will also be able to access instantly cached music offline, as well as stream uninterrupted music while travelling across all five launch markets (and Spain) without incurring extra data charges or roaming costs.
 
“The automotive industry is one of the last bastions of uncharted territory for the digital music industry,” rara.com CEO Jez Bell tells Billboard.biz. “When you look at research as to where consumers predominantly listen to music, the car is quite often No.1. It’s a critical place for music listening and for many of our target consumers. The thing that has been missing up till now has been a really seamless experience. BMW’s ConnectedDrive Online Entertainment pack with rara.com will allow people to have a fully on-demand music service within the car for the first time.”
 
Negotiations between rara.com and BMW took several years with a view to building a fully integrated in-car music streaming service, says Bell, who cites multi-territory licensing and establishing seamless in-car data connectivity across borders as just two of the hurdles that rara.com has overcome with BMW to bring this service to market.
 
Launched in the December 2011, London-based rara.com currently operates in 33 international markets, including U.S., U.K. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada. Australia, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa.  In addition to its new BMW offering, the service is available to access via the web and on Windows 8, iOS and Android devices.  

 “Universal Music Group is very pleased to support this partnership between rara.com and the new BMW 5 Series,” said Bill Campbell, SVP of global digital business, Universal Music Group in a statement. “They have developed an elegant and fully-licensed streaming solution to the challenge of integrating digital music services into cars, with no need to plug in your smartphone or player, which is both innovative and very positive for our artists.”
 
VidZone Digital Media founder and CEO Adrian Workman added in a statement: “This is a great day for digital music; the first music streaming service for the car in Europe. Replacing out dated and limited in-car CD players, music streaming will help to drive the uptake of legitimate music consumption in the car.”
 

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