Rdio moves into live radio in US, Australia later in the year?
Taking a leaf from Apple and its Beats 1, Rdio has expanded beyond digital music streaming to include a live radio broadcast feature on its app for Android and iOS.
It launched yesterday in the United States with 460 terrestrial AM/FM stations, and their live DJs, aboard operated by its partner Cumulus Media’s radio network Westwood One. Cumulus is the second-largest radio station owner in the US.
Australia could also be included as part of an international roll-out later in the year.
"We are committed to providing Rdio customers around the world with easy access to the audio content they want to hear through innovative features that enhance listening," Rdio CEO Anthony Bay said.
"Broadcast radio brands and talent continue to be the dominant tastemakers in music, so integrating live broadcast radio into Rdio's critically acclaimed customer experience is an exciting development that we are thrilled to introduce."
Bay has been working on this since he took over as CEO last year, saying, "Radio is still the most widely used form of audio. There's a big audience out there."
According to Nielsen, 245 million Americans aged 12 or older listen to traditional radio stations every week.
It is now accepted that while listeners like their music programmed by humans, music streamers find terrestrial radio passé, with narrow playlists, blocks of irritating ads and minimal interaction. Rdio has acknowledged this with greater interaction from its radio stations. It shows the last 20 songs played by the station. Listeners can mark a song as a favorite, share it, start a custom Rdio station based on the track or view more material from the artist. Paying Rdio subscribers can also download that song for unlimited listening.
Aside from music, the radio broadcasts include sports and talk-back, with more features to be added. Rdio will also include stations from other radio networks in its mix.
“There [are] still tons of people out there that are listening to music every week that haven’t used any streaming service,” says Chris Becherer, Rdio’s Senior Vice President for Product. “Our goal is to try to bridge that audience.”
Cumulus stations are already available on iHeart Media’s (formerly Clear Channel) iHeartRadio app. But analysts say the Rdio partnership will give the firm more control over its stations online, and more promotion by its DJs.
Launched in 2008, the iHeartRadio app allows users to listen to live radio stations and create their own custom stations. In June 2015, it announced the app surpassed 40 million registered users and 260 million app downloads.
The Rdio and Atlanta-based Cumulus partnership began in 2013, taking a 15% stake in Rdio's parent company, Pulser Media, in exchange for $75 million in marketing over five years. It also gave Cumulus an additional online platform for its content.
Rdio does not reveal its user figures. But these are estimated to be much lower than that of Spotify’s (60 million monthly active users and 15 million paying subscribers) and Apple Music (11 million in its first five weeks). Pandora says it gets about 80 million monthly listeners.
Rdio was set up in 2010 by Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis and based in San Francisco. It is available in 85 countries.