Rdio Adds Label Partners and Publishers to Its Radio Push -- But What Do We Really Want?

Rdio
Courtesy of Rdio

In the wake of Apple's Beats 1, and the continuing dominance of traditional radio, the question of how we want to hear is more confusing than ever.

Rdio has expanded the "Label Stations" program it first launched in March of this year to include eight new label partners, as well as a new arm of the program overseen by influential media properties like Hype Machine, The Onion-owned A.V. Club and more. Today also brings an expansion of the program's availability to 10 new countries (Australia, Mexico, Brazil, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong). The announcement comes on the heels of a European expansion for the company's cheaper Rdio Select tier, which allows for ad-free radio listening and a limited number of downloads per day.

The experience of using Rdio's curated stations is straightforward in the extreme; head to the "Labels" section of the site's "Station" category, click your favorite, and a selection of that label's best work (as chosen by that label) is played. The service is advertising-supported, sourced through the company's partnership with terrestrial radio giant Cumulus.

"In keeping with our objective of providing the world’s best Internet radio experience, we are proud to partner with key influencers and the label community to program their own branded stations," Rdio CEO Anthony Bay said in a statement. The fact is that Rdio’s new expansion of its curated radio program didn’t galvanize the world when it was first introduced, despite the existing participation of legendary labels like Stones Throw, XL and Sub Pop. They may have an objective of providing the world's best Internet radio experience, but right now they don't.

Apple's Beats 1 continues to grab attention a week after its launch because it's a far more ambitious -- and expensive -- play. Beats 1's content can't be listened to whenever you want, it's appointment (or serendipitous) listening only. As well, the cavalcade of stars that Apple has secured as DJs, "curators" if you prefer, aren't playing only their own music; they were brought on in order to their areas of expertise, not their bodies of work, and they deliver more than music -- they deliver personality. In fact, the initial success of Beats 1 -- which may prove to be short-lived, the beneficiary of a self-fulfilling hype cycle -- seems to point towards a shift from the algorithm-and-thumbs-up experience of listening to a human-generated, and oriented approach. For all of our beautiful devices and thoughtful strings of code, the human mind remains the killingest of apps.

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