Rdio, Cumulus Announce Free Ad-Supported Music Streaming Service

Subscription music streaming service Rdio and broadcast radio network Cumulus Media have announced a free ad-supported service set tolaunch later this year, reports HypeBot

Earlier this year, Rdio debuted free unlimited online music streaming to U.S. customers, a move that had been expected after the company revealed a partnership with Cumulus in September of 2013 and one that follows the freemium model established Spotify and Deezer, expected to launch in the United States at some point in the near future. The deal also mirrors a similar pre-existing one between Rdio and DMG, an Australian broadcast radio company.

In a February earnings call, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey said the deal between the two companies amounted to $75 million in marketing to Rdio over five years, during which time Cumulus would amass 20 percent equity in the streaming platform. "With this exclusive tie up with Rdio," he said, "we now have an important total in the widening digital audio space and a way to participate in the rapidly growing consumer segment for our on-demand music, especially as the model for on-demand music inexorably shifts from ownership to access of content."

The announcement comes a few days after Rdio announced its "Artists for Quality" initiative with the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir to deliver its catalog in a higher, 320kbps, bitrate-encoded AAC format where available; in areas of poor bandwidth, the company would work to optimize its reliability and quality.

In other news, Rdio has been moving full steam ahead with its global expansion plan. The company recently partnered with Canada's Shaw Communications to grow its presence in the country. As part of that deal, Shaw Ventures has made a financial investment in Rdio's holding company, Pulser Media. The news followed Rdio's strategic alliance in Brazil with media conglomerate Grupo Bandeirantes.