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December 27 2013

Rdio Shuts Down Video Streaming Site Vdio, Offers Amazon Credits As Reimbursement For Purchases
vdio home screeIt's only been six months since Rdio launched its video streaming platform Vdio to the world, but it appears that the company has already decided to give up on that experiment. In an email sent to customers today, the streaming media startup announced that it has decided to discontinue the service.
Tags: TC rdio Vdio

December 11 2013

Rdio Launches In 20 New Countries, As 57% Of New Users Come From Outside U.S.
rdioStreaming music provider Rdio has just launched its services in 20 new countries, making for a total reach of 51 different international markets. That's more than rival Spotify, for those counting, which used to rival Rdio by exactly one after launching in four new countries back in September, for a total reach of 32 global spots. Rdio has seen its monthly active user growth from countries outside the U.S. grow from 30 percent at the start of 2013, to 57 percent by the end of the year.

November 19 2013

Music Streaming Startup Rdio Lays Off Staff To ‘Improve Cost Structure And Ensure A Scalable Business”
The music streaming business can be tough, with market leaders like Spotify growing like weeds but still loss-making. Today, some bad news from competitor Rdio, the music streaming service startup from Skype co-founder Janus Friis. The company has confirmed to TechCrunch that is is making "across-the-board workforce reductions today to improve its cost structure and ensure a scalable business model for the long-term."

August 08 2013

Rdio Courts Casual Listeners With Pandora-Style Radio Based On Your Friends
Mainstream music fans don't want to constantly choose what to listen to, so streaming services are embracing radio. The latest is Rdio, whose new Friend FM turns friends' listening activity and connections into non-stop streams. It's also added a traditional Pandora-style You FM station thanks to data from The Echo Nest. Together they could let you productively leave Rdio on in the background.

August 04 2011

Rdio’s iPad App Now Available In The App Store
It took a bit longer than I'd have guessed, but the Rdio iPad app that we previewed a few weeks back is now available in the App Store. As predicted, it's the first of the major music streaming services to get an iPad app into the store.
Tags: TC rdio

July 27 2011


Rdio To Offer Family Unlimited Plan, Broke Music Fans Rejoice

It was just last week that Greg brought us a first look at Rdio’s forthcoming iPad app, and now the streaming music contender has dropped another bombshell on us.

Last night, Rdio CEO Drew Lerner let slip that in addition to their current line up of plans, they will launch an “Unlimited Family” plan that lets users “share an account with multiple people at a discounted rate”. With this, Rdio is breaking out of the pricing rut that they and their competitors have been stuck in, and on top of that offer a compelling new concept for music sharing.

Currently, Rdio and their closest competitors share a strikingly similar pricing model: $4.99 nets you unlimited access to their respective music catalogs from PCs (and in Rdio and MOG’s case, Roku boxes). From there, a jump up to $9.99 yields access on the go via apps for most of your favorite mobile devices. While the core offerings remain the same, the particulars (i.e. offline playlist syncing, support for different mobile devices) vary from company to company. The battle to differentiate at identical price points is ultimately great for consumers, but the idea of offering a group rate for music lovers is breaking new entirely new ground in the music streaming space.

At this early stage, there are no details about what the new access plan will cost or when it will roll out, but much will be revealed in an online event Rdio plans to hold in coming weeks.

Tags: Mobile TC rdio

July 19 2011


First Look: Rdio’s iPad App Now Awaiting Apple’s Approval, We Go Hands-On

In the all-you-can-eat music streaming battle between Spotify, Rdio, and MOG, the iPad is more or less untouched territory. Sure, they’ve all got iPhone apps which can be stretched to run at near-full screen on the iPad — but if you’re wanting for something that doesn’t look like hot pixelated garbage, you’re pretty much out of luck.

It’s starting to look like Rdio might be the first of the lot to crack out an iPad-native release: they’ve just submitted the big-screen-friendly build of their app for Apple’s oh-so-crucial stamp of approval. I’ve been using this iPad build for a few days now, and have returned with screenshots, video, and first impressions for an exclusive hands-on.


  • Outside of a little crash or two I experienced during the initial log-in process, the app is pleasantly stable for a first release.
  • From the music navigation screen to the playback screen, Rdio for iPad puts the album art front-and-center. All of the album art is beautifully high res, making it a rather nice showpiece to keep in view while you’re jamming.
  • The whole interface is just about as intuitive as interfaces come. Perhaps it’s because I’ve already become familiar with Rdio on other form factors, but there was literally zero learning curve here.
  • Up against the web app, the iPhone app, and the desktop app, the iPad app is definitely my favorite. The color theme borrows the gun metal look of the desktop app (as opposed to the wonky light blue of the iPhone app, see below), while laying things out in a super quick, super accessible way.
  • I’ve got next to nothing negative to say about the iPad app at this point. With that said, I wouldn’t mind if Rdio tweaked their “Heavy Rotation” algorithm to end Adele’s many-months-long reign. I dig Adele’s sultry, two-packs-a-day voice as much as any other guy, but if I have to hear “Rolling In The Deep” one more time I’m going to eat my own head.

Video Demo:


Currently Playing Main Screen (Heavy Rotation) Playlists And Settings Recommended Albums and Album Track view

July 14 2011


Can Rdio Withstand The Spotify Assault? A Feature-By-Feature Look

Spotify is finally here in the US. It offers on-demand music for a relatively low price — just like Rdio. There’s several service levels including mobile listening and offline support — just like Rdio. There’s even support for third-party hardware and platforms — just like Rdio.

Rdio has a head start in this race but it might not matter. Rdio left private beta last August and has since gained a good deal of traction here in the States. It’s our hometown hero, if you will. Even though it wasn’t available until today, Spotify’s hype built the service up to near legandary status. The two services are remarkably similar on the outside, but when you dive in, there are some distinct and fun differences.

Quick specs:


  • Free account, limited playback, ad-supported
  • $5 for desktop streaming
  • $10 desktop, mobile and offline support
  • Launched in the US on July 14, 2011
  • Features the catalog of the 4 major record companies
  • “Over 15 million tracks”
  • Bitrate Quality: 160 kbps with some tracks at 320 kbps for premium users


  • $5 for desktop streaming
  • $10 desktop, mobile and offline support
  • Launched in the US on August 3, 2010
  • Features the catalog of the 4 major record companies
  • “Over 8 million songs”
  • Update: Rdio dropped me a note stating they’re at 9 million songs now.
  • Bitrate Quality: 256kbps

Desktop apps

Both companies take a different approach to their desktop application. Spotify’s desktop app is designed to be a catch-all, a one stop solution for all your media needs. It allows users to steam music and playback local media. It can sync songs with connected media players (including iPods) and cache streaming songs for offline playback. It’s truly meant to be the only media player you need on your computer.

That’s not the case with Rdio, whose desktop app is really just a portal to its web service. Nearly everything is the same, including the navigation paths and user interface. Rdio’s app lacks any local media playback functions, which may be just fine for some users. The desktop app does play friendly with keyboard media functions (like the pause/play key you may have) where Rdio’s web service does not.

The different approaches result in a slightly different feel. Both services are designed around music discovery, but Rdio’s desktop application, since it’s really just a skinned web app, outclasses Spotify in this area. Nearly everything is a hyperlink to more content. The album cover, the song, the artist, every user element has a link that takes you to music. Spotify goes about it in a traditional desktop way by have simple navigation paths, but they’re not as easily identifiable.

Still, Spotify’s desktop app is far more versatile than Rdio’s. It seamlessly mixes online and offline content with social sharing tools. The music discovery paths could use some work but the other functions combine to beat Rdio’s.

Winner: Spotify

Web apps

Spotify doesn’t have a web app. This is a key difference between the two services. Rdio will work in nearly any browser on any computer and maintain user settings. At work? Just log in and all your music, friends and listening history is there. This isn’t available on Spotify.

In fact, Rdio was originally just a web service. The OS X desktop app came a few months after the service launched, and the Windows flavor just dropped a few weeks back. The whole service is designed to operate from within a browser and does so wonderfully.

I’ve found that Rdio’s web app allows it to work on web-connected devices such as the Boxee Box or Google TV. Rdio doesn’t have a dedicated app on either of these Internet appliances but the device’s web browser allows you to use the service anyway. You can’t do that with Spotify although the service is available on several hardware platforms (more on this farther down.)

Winner: Rdio (by default)

Mobile apps

Neither of these services would be as popular if they didn’t support mobile listening. Both Rdio and Spotify have functional mobile apps that ports most of the service’s functions to your smartphone. Once again, on the surface, the two sound very similar and feature the same functions including offline modes.

The two apps are very similar and there really isn’t a standout. It’s more a personal preference. Rdio’s UI is a bit more simple, but still maintains a lot of the elements found in the web app. Spotify’s on the other hand is sort of busy, but nicely integrates the socal media sharing functions. Both play music and that’s the most important function anyway.

One standout in this area is MOG’s app. Not only does it flow better than Spotify’s or Rdio’s, MOG’s smartphone app is simply beautiful. It feels like a smartphone media app rather than a web app crammed into a smartphone.

Winner: MOG

Social features

Everything has to be social now and so both media services are built tightly around this thought. Both make it easy enough to share playlists, albums and songs through Facebook and Twitter. However, Spotify takes it one step farther and gives users the ability to quickly share songs and albums through a sort of internal mail system. Glee bombing is quickly becoming a favorite pastime of mine.

However, while I’m of the opinion that none of this sharing nonsense is necessary, Spotify does, once again, outperform Rdio mainly as it allows subscribers to share songs with anyone; all that’s required to listen is a free Spotify account. Rdio allows for embedding of songs, but you have to a paying subscriber pay to listen.

Winner: Spotify

Music discovery

It has never been easier to discover new music and trends. Rdio and Spotify, along with several other streaming sites like MOG, Grooveshark, and Rhapsody, built their service around this core idea. With the exception of Grooveshark, these services tend to take the album approach by presenting users with a grid of album covers. Spotify uses the What’s New section as its homescreen where Rdio’s Heavy Rotation section (the service’s most popular music) is the first page displayed.

This is where Rdio tops Spotify. Nearly everything on Rdio, either on the web app or desktop app, guides you to music. The designers placed a hyperlink where ever someone might want to click. Best of all, following the rabbit down the hole of music discovery doesn’t interrupt the music playback — even on the website. A sidebar is off to the right on nearly every page with relative songs, artists, and info. Want to hear music of the same sort? Each page has a Play Radio Station button that cues up similar songs and artists.

Both services have similar sections in new releases, most popular, and top charts. Rdio also features a recommendations section that displays new artists based on your listening habits. This section alone allows Rdio to topple Spotify in the music discovery category.

Winner: Rdio

In the end, though, I doubt these differences will really matter. Rdio is an amazing tool to discover new music and Spotify is the media player from the future. There’s more than enough space in this huge market for several major players. Spotify might quickly outpace Rdio simply because of advertising and its slightly more recognizable brand. But the real winner are us consumers. As Louis C.K. wisely put, “The shittiest cell phone in the world is a miracle.” This also applies to streaming music services.


Spotify Now On Sonos

Not to flog a spotted horse, Spotify is now available on your Sonos devices. To add the service to your devices follow these instructions.

Similar to Rdio, Spotify for Sonos allows you to create queues based on Spotify content and play playlists you’ve created on your desktop. Songs play in 320kbps streams.

July 07 2011


Signup Flow Shows Spotify Costing $4.99 And $9.99 A Month In The US

One day after it announced an imminent US launch with no other details, an American Spotify user has sent us these screencaps showing pricing in US dollars. Only going by these screencaps, the Unlimited US Spotify plan will cost $4.99 a month without mobile streaming capability and the Premium Spotify plan with mobile access will cost $9.99 a month. According to the same source, a free version with limited plays is also available.

Interesting enough, these amounts are less than what European users currently pay, at £4.99 ($8.00) and £9.99 ($16.00) respectively.

It might just be that these are pre-launch placeholder site numbers, the fact that lesser competitor and US first mover Rdio charges the same amounts for what amounts to basically the same plans makes me believe that they might be legitimate (the logic being that the record companies gave both companies similar licensing deals). Peter Kafka also reported the $10 a month for Premium figure when he wrote about the company’s $100 million in funding at a $1 billion valuation earlier this month.

So if the prices are in place what’s the holdup then? Well one source pegs the company as waiting for Facebook to get its music service together  – I’m hearing it’s a partnership with multiple companies including Spotify. In related news, code alluding to a product called Facebook Vibes was just discovered in the download files for FaceSkype video chat.

So while we all wait for the launch of one, or the other or both simultaneously, read Paul Carr’s brilliant post on how Rdio captured the music in America’s heart first.

Update from Spotify PR: ”No details are set for the pricing or details of our US service yet – we’re still testing a number of different options. We’ll be sure to let you know when we have something to announce.”

Tags: TC rdio spotify

June 29 2011


As Spotify Nears U.S. Launch, Rdio Launches A Native Windows App

As a non-ashamed Windows user and straight up Rdio fan, this makes me happy. Rdio has expanded its product suite with a native app for Windows XP, Vista, and 7.

To be fair, I’m likely not going to use the desktop app much, as I’m mostly using Rdio on my mobile phone and iPod touch, as well as via my Sonos system.

But it’s great to have options – I have always lamented Spotify for not having a browser-based application, for one, since I like to keep the number of desktop apps I run to an absolute minimum. And the iTunes desktop application (at least the one for Windows) is practically unusable, at least in my experience.

Before I digress too much: there’s now a native Rdio app for Windows.

It’s a little buggy (the volume slider doesn’t function properly, for example) and according to my CrunchGear colleague Matt Burns tends to slow down your computer to a crawl – though I’m personally not experiencing any performance issues when running the software – but overall it’s a welcome addition to the Rdio app line-up.

You can use the software to listen to music and manage your Rdio MP3 downloads, use your keyboard’s media keys to control your music player, discover music via ‘New Releases’, ‘Top Charts’ and ‘Recommendations’ and match your existing music collection to see which music from your iTunes or Windows Media Player library is in the music startup’s catalog.

And yes, Mac users, there’s a native app for you too, since March 2011 actually.

Spotify, meanwhile, is gearing up for a U.S. launch, though admittedly it has been gearing up for that for the past few decades (ok, years). Rumor on the street is it will debut mid-July.

Rdio just gave you one more reason to try them out while you wait for that to happen.

March 11 2011


Social Music Startup Rdio Pushes Play Button For API, Affiliate Program

Rdio, the social music startup founded by Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, is expanding its platform today with the launch of its API and an affiliate program.

Rdio launched last year as an unlimited, on-demand social music service that allows users to build and share online music collections from a catalogue of over 8 million songs. Rdio offers a Web-only music streaming music service for $4.99, and a premium version that adds mobile access for $9.99 per month.

Now, Rdio’s API gives developers the ability to create web apps that can search, access and play all of the artists, songs, albums, playlists, and charts in Rdio’s catalog of over 8 million songs. The open platform includes an oEmbed API, REST API, and Web Playback API and allows developers to access community-only features such as the ability to see what’s in heavy rotation in your network, follow people whose music tastes you like, check out other people’s music collections and modify a personal collection or playlist. Rdio also plans on releasing a playback API for iOS and Android in the future.

Unlike other APIs, this one is tied to a subscription service and users who do not sign up to use Rdio (either as a subscriber or a trial user) won’t get the full benefits of the API. Whether that is enough to cripple the API remains to be seen. So visitors on third party sites using Rdio’s API will be able to stream full length songs, whether they are a subscriber or a trial user. Users who are not subscribers or trial users that encounter the Rdio API on third-party sites will be able to hear 30-second song excerpts. These users will also be given the option of enlisting in a free 7-day trial (no credit card required) to hear the full song.

Additionally, developers will be able to monetize their applications through a new affiliate program which will pay commissions for referring new subscribers and song downloads. Affiliates can earn two to three percent gross revenue per month for the lifetime of a new subscriber and seven percent gross revenue per song download referred.

Todd Berman, VP of Engineering at Rdio says that an API has been the startup’s most requested feature. Rdio’s API is already being uses by a number of web companies, including AOL’s new Play app, Tweetlouder, and The GRAMMY Awards’ MusicIsLifeIsMusic microsite.

Rdio, which just raised $17.5 million, in new funding, has made it to the U.S. (albeit with a different model) before much hyped competitor Spotify. And Google Music, the search giant’s music service has yet to make its public debut. Rdio is probably smart to start wooing developers and expanding its ecosystem and reach before these competitors launch.

Tags: TC rdio

February 22 2011


Next Question: What’s A Publishing App?

We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps.

—email attributed to Steve Jobs

There’s been so much confusion in the wake of Apple’s new subscription billing policy for apps that Steve Jobs felt the need to issue the proclamation above via his preferred method, a personal email. (It’s his version of the burning bush). While Apple’s new policy clearly states that all subscriptions for purchasing “content, functionality, or services in an app” must go through Apple, Jobs suggests that Apple will make a distinction between “publishing apps” and “SaaS apps” (software as a service). Apps like Salesforce or Evernote, for example, operate under an SaaS subscription, and are available to the same subscribers on the Web and other devices besides the iPhone.

Apple appears to be backtracking here. As I suggested on Friday in a Fly or Die video with Rhapsody’s president Jon irwin (who offers a music streaming subscription app on the iPhone), Apple’s initial broad-stroke rule may very well have been a trial balloon. The subscription billing system was obviously designed with media apps in mind, particularly publications. Maybe Apple won’t apply it to other types of subscription apps. Indeed, this latest email from Jobs appears to signal that Apple is adjusting to the market reaction.

The stakes here are very high. Apple cannot afford to alienate the mass of developers with existing or future subscription apps. As Instapaper founder Marco Arment writes:

A broad, vague, inconsistently applied, greedy, and unjustifiable rule doesn’t make developers want to embrace the platform.

The line now seems to be drawn between publishing apps and other kinds of subscription apps that are more like software. For the most part, that does make things clearer. Salesforce probably doesn’t have to worry about pulling its app from the iPhone.

But the next question is: What exactly isa publishing app? Obviously, apps that look like traditional print publications like The Daily, magazine apps, or the New York Times app once it goes to a subscription model all fall under the new rule. So too do apps like the recently-rejected Readability, which serves up repurposed content from across the Web without ads for a subscription. By that logic, any news reader apps that charge a subscription would fall under that rule as well.

But what is a news publishing app? They are clearly news-reading software. And what if Twitter or a Twitter client started charging subscriptions? Are those publishing apps or a communications apps? Just think about Flipboard or Pulse, which transform Twitter and other feeds into a dynamic, realtime, personalized publication. If those apps started charging subscriptions (both are currently free), I bet they would have to go through Apple’s subscription system just like Readability.

Okay, so any app that involves reading the news is a publishing app. Maybe. What about other media apps like music (Rhapsody, Rdio, MOG) or movies (Netflix) which require a subscription? Rhapsody doesn’t “publish” music, it just streams it. Netflix doesn’t make movies, it just delivers them. Apple still hasn’t clarified how it will treat these types of media subscription apps. But in my mind those are not publishing apps and thus should not be subject to the new rules.

Finally, what about personal publishing apps delivered as a service? One example of a popular app that offers both free and subscription versions is Evernote, which could be considered a form of personal publishing. Evernote lets you publish photos, notes, Web clips and other digital detritus to your own personal stream, which can remain private or be shared. It charges a subscription for extra features such as supporting larger uploads, more file types, and better collaboration tools. Those are all software features, but the end result is a personal publication of sorts. The difference is that Evernote isn’t charging for the content, it is charging for the software features.

And maybe that is the line Jobs is drawing, but it is a line that won’t last long. The most successful publishing apps will look increasingly like other apps, with software features that take them beyond glorified PDF readers. Smart publishers might even start charging subscription fees to unlock those extra features—3D photos, social news filters, augmented reality layers—instead of for the content itself.

February 16 2011


With Potentially Deadly New Apple Rules Looming, Rdio Revamps Their iPhone App

With an on-demand catalog of over 8 million songs, it’s hard not to love Rdio. But given the new rules soon to be enforced in Apple’s ecosystem, it seems as if the company may be in for some stormy times ahead. But with a fresh $17.5 million in the bank, they’re plowing forward anyway. Today brings a new version of their iPhone app.

This latest version, 1.0, is very slick. Using what they call the “springboard” dashboard, you can easily access different parts of the service. Essentially, this is the homescreen design that Facebook and other popular apps use (which itself mimics the iPhone homescreen) to give users a quick overview of what they can do. Notably, the new design gives users “one-touch” access to new releases, top charts and recommended albums.

It all looks and works great. But the key to Rdio has always been the content. Started by Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, they’ve been able to do what much-hyped Spotify hasn’t: get to the U.S. And they’ve made it here with all the major record labels on board. But the model, of course, is different. Rdio is all about paid monthly subscriptions. The only thing free about the service (and the app) are 30-second previews of songs.

And that’s why the new Apple rules are potentially crippling to the service. Rdio currently charges $9.99 a month for unlimited mobile access to their music library (again, about 8 million songs). But if Apple were to take 30 percent of that $9.99 each month, Rdio would likely have to raise their rates, or pull out of the App Store. Neither is an attractive option — especially since the company just spent all this time working on the new app.

Below, find they key new aspects of the app. You can find it in the App Store here, it’s a free download and includes with a free 7-day trial of the unlimited service.

  • A more efficient home screen – We’ve eliminated the tabs along the bottom of our app and organized all your favorite features into a customizable home screen. Just like the iOS we’re all familiar with, you can tap and hold icons on the springboard to rearrange them. We’ve also smartly integrated the search bar at the top of the dashboard for quicker access to our catalogue.
  • New releases, top charts and recommended music – Never be in the dark about what’s new and buzzing in the world of music. The new Rdio app has easy access to New Releases, Top Charts, and Recommended albums so you can always stay up to date on new music and easily re-discover old favorites. Drill down to learn about new music from this week, last week, or 2 weeks ago. Check out top albums, songs and playlists, or browse a visual collection of albumrecommendations based upon the music you’ve previously played.
  • A persistent player at the bottom of the screen – Rdio rethought the player when we designed a way to make it move with you no matter where you browsed within our website. Now we’re bringing that same experience to our mobile app so you can always see at a glance what’s playing and access player controls with a tap of the finger no matter where you are within theapp.
  • Deeper search – More than just artists, albums and songs, our fast search now also provides results for playlists and people.
  • More syncing options – Syncing songs to your phone over the air for offline playback is undeniably cool but can be costly if you exceed the limits of your data plan. The new Rdio app gives you the option of syncing over Wi-Fi or 3G, Wi-Fi only, or never.
  • Synced songs and playlist views – There’s a new way to filter your Collection and Playlist so that you can easily see what you have synced to your device without going into offline mode.

Tags: TC Apple rdio

February 03 2011


Exclusive: Social Music Startup Rdio Raises $17.5 Million, Adds Rob Cavallo To Board

Rdio, the social music startup founded by Skype founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, isn’t exactly waiting around for Spotify to make its way to the United States (or Google Music for that matter).

TechCrunch has learned that the company has secured $17.5 million in funding from new investor Mangrove Capital Partners, along with earlier backers Skype, Atomico Ventures and Friis himself through some of his investment entities.

Ironically, Friis co-founded Rdio as well as most of its current list of investors, apart from Mangrove Capital Partners, which did famously back Skype during its very early days and made a ton when the company was eventually sold to eBay.

Rdio has also gained a new board member, and not just anyone; the company has appointed Warner Bros. Records Chairman Rob Cavallo as its new director. Cavallo is a Grammy-nominated producer known for his work with artists like Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, Fleetwood Mac, Jewel, Kid Rock and Alanis Morissette.

He joined the Rdio board specifically to help further strengthen Rdio’s relationship with the music industry, something rivals Spotify and even Google have been struggling with, particularly in the US. Rdio already has relationships with EMI Music, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group in place, as well as agreements with thousands of indie labels.

Users of the unlimited, on-demand social music service (such as myself) can currently build and share online music collections from a catalogue of over 8 million songs.

Rdio offers a Web-only music streaming music service for $4.99, and a premium version that adds mobile access for $9.99 per month.

Rdio will use the additional capital to expand to new platforms and new regions in the course of this year. Part of the funds will also go towards hiring new employees, ramping up marketing efforts and product development.

On a funny sidenote: word about Mangrove’s investment in Rdio leaked out last week, albeit without the size of the round or any other details, when Mangrove partner Mark Tluszcz sent a tweet to MC Hammer before any public announcements about their involvement. Doh!

January 06 2011


Rdio + Sonos = The Perfect Marriage

Pretty sure 99.9% of you won’t care one bit, but this fills me with joy: Rdio, the music service I was most happy to have discovered in 2010, will soon be available on Sonos, the awesome wireless sound system I was most happy to have discovered in 2010.

Scheduled for release ‘later in Q1 2011′, Rdio Unlimited subscibers (that’s me!) in the United States and Canada will be able to listen to the social music service on Sonos’ phenomenal Multi-Room Music System.

Sonos already had partnerships in place to do the same for Spotify,, Napster, Pandora, Rhapsody and SIRIUS users (it also lets you access the single best-kept secret in online music land, Wolfgang’s Vault).

But as a proud Rdio fan, and I was left out in the cold.

Sure, I got Sonos’ wireless docking station so I could actually use the Rdio iPhone app to stream music to the system, but it wasn’t an ideal solution (considering the phone also receives calls, text messages, push notifications and whatnot whilst streaming).

Rdio and Sonos, you’ve made my day. Apologies, 99.9% of you who don’t care.

Tags: TC rdio Sonos

December 07 2010


Twitter Gains Much-Needed Instagram Support And Full Songs From Rdio

For the past few months, probably something close to half of my tweets have been links that take you off of the site. My bad. But tonight I have good news! If you too are addicted to Instagram — which it seems about a quarter of the people I follow on Twitter are — you’ll no longer have to leave to view those pictures. Yes, New Twitter has expanded their right pane to include a number of new third party sites tonight, including the popular mobile photo sharing startup.

So who else is joining the pane?, Rdio, SlideShare, and Dipdive. These added to the ones that launched alongside New Twitter such as YouTube, Flickr, USTREAM, and more recently, iTunes, means that less and less, you’ll have to click away from With these additions, they now have over 20 content partners for the right-side pane. It’s becoming quite the platform itself.

And they’re not done yet. “In the next few months we’ll integrate with more content partners,” the company writes tonight on the Twitter Blog.

While Instagram is a much welcomed addition, Rdio is also an awesome one because it means users can share full-length songs for the first time on Twitter. You’ll recall that iTunes sharing only including song previews.

October 13 2010


Thumbplay Rocks 500,000 Downloads For Paid Music Apps Across iPhone, Android, And Blackberry

Who says nobody will consider paying for streaming music? Thumbplay Music, which offers unlimited music streaming apps for a monthly subscription across iPhone (iTunes link), Android, and Blackberry, reports that its smartphone apps have been downloaded 500,000 times since June. Thumbplay won’t say how many of those downloads turn into paying customers (you get a free trial before having to start paying $9.99 a month), but even if it’s only 10 percent, that’s $500,000 a month in revenues.

What’s even more notable is that Thumbplay’s users are pretty evenly distributed across the three smartphone platforms. The iPhone rules with 39 percent (where Thumbplay is one of the top hundred “free” music apps), but Blackberry is second with 36 percent. Android makes up 25 percent of users. “We are big believers in RIM as an application device,” says CEO Evan Schwartz. (It helps that Thumbplay launched first on Blackberry, has little competition there among music apps, and is often a featured app on the Blackberry marketplace). Schwartz says the conversion rates across each platform is roughly the same.

Thumbplay Music also offers desktop apps, but 90 percent of the songs its streams are on smartphones. It’s customers are 70 percent male, with most of them being 25 to 34 years old. And the top 20 songs only make up 5 percent of all songs played.

Thumbplay got its start in 2004 selling ringtone downloads for feature phones, and then progressing to full songs and videos. Its started Thumbplay Music this year to focus on smartphones, where 70 percent of its new customers are coming from. The established feature phone business, however, is still much larger. In the smartphone music subscription market, it faces competition from Pandora, Rhapsody, Rdio, Sirius, and others.

August 03 2010


Spotify Who? Rdio Launches In The US And Canada, Lands More Indie Music Deals

It’s been two months to the day since Rdio launched in the States – check out Erick’s review if you’re interested in learning more about the (awesome) social music service.

But until today, you needed to be invited by another user to gain access to the service.

Not that it was all that difficult – users were able to invite dozens at a time and we gave away thousands of invite codes for TechCrunch readers – but still, the doors are now open.

That is, if you live in the United States or Canada or at least know how to pretend you are.

Users in those countries can henceforth sign up for Rdio and give it a whirl free of charge and ad-less for a period of 3 days, although users get the option to extend the free trial with another 10 days after, according to the startup, which was founded and financially backed by Skype, Kazaa and Joost founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis.

Rdio, pronounced “ar-dee-oh”, costs $9.99 per month for unlimited Web and mobile access (including the ability to listen to music and playlists offline), and $4.99 for Web-only access.

Rdio says it recently expanded its music collection through deals with independent labels and aggregators, hitting the 7 million songs milestone. Apart from the major music labels, Rdio now boasts agreements with the likes of IODA, IRIS, Finetunes, INgrooves and The Orchard.

In addition, Rdio has attracted a number of music publications and other influencers (Spin Magazine, Pitchfork and Los Angeles’ KCRW Radio, to name but a few) to set up profiles and connect users with their favorite tunes (which can now be played without interruption, thank God).

The company has also been consistently updating its iPhone, Android and BlackBerry apps, as the mobile aspect of the offering is really key to their long-term strategy.

The public launch of Rdio in the US and Canada is bad news for European music startup Spotify, which hasn’t managed to make it Stateside yet, despite all its oft-expressed homes and dreams. Spotify says negotations with the labels are moving in the right direction, however, and that they’re confident they’ll be able to launch in the U.S. before year’s end.

Of course, Spotify is far from the only competition Rdio has or will have, with startups like Pandora and MOG doing very well. And let’s not forget three technology giants are plotting their own music-in-the-cloud push, too: digital music sales juggernaut Apple, Web giant Google and HP, still very much the largest information technology company in the world.

Curious to see what the future will hold for Rdio.

You please tell me what you think of it today, though.

Tags: TC rdio

July 13 2010


Music Lovers, Take Note: Rdio Debuts Android App (Bonus: 2,000 Invites)

It’s only been a couple of weeks since Rdio launched in the US and I started using it, and I’m already pretty sure I’ll be hooked for a long, long time – and I’ve tested a bunch of online music buying, sharing and streaming services in the past few years so that’s saying something. Check out Erick’s review if you’re interested in learning more about the service.

Anyway, if you’re a music fan and a proud owner of an Android-powered smartphone, today’s a good day. The startup, which was founded and financially backed by Skype, Kazaa and Joost founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, has just announced that its oft-requested Android application is now available, albeit in beta form.

If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, you’re all set already. If you carry around an Android-powered handset, all you need is an invite for Rdio to get cracking. Were you too slow to take advantage when we offered you 1,000 trial accounts? We hear you: another 2,000 TechCrunch readers can sign up for an invite to Rdio right here.

The free Android app lets you do much of the same as its counterpart for the iPhone; it lets you browse and listen to the collection and playlists you’ve stored in the cloud using Rdio. You can also search for (and play) a couple millions of songs, and sync music – meaning full songs, full albums and playlists – to listen to when you’re offline.

Yet, as mentioned, the app is in beta, which Rdio warns about in its blog post:

Major functionality is available, and we’ve tested it on a variety of devices and versions of Android, but there’s still more to do — we wanted to get it in your hands as soon as possible. We’ll keep working on it so expect frequent updates, and don’t install it if you can’t live with the occasional quirk or even crash.

I’ve run into a bug or two with the iPhone app and Web service as well, so I indeed wouldn’t recommend to use Rdio as a 100% replacement for iTunes or whatever you currently use for buying and listening to music on your computer. I do think, however, that services like Rdio (and Spotify, Pandora, MOG, We7 and many others) will be shaping the future of digital music purchasing and listening in the next few years, so make sure to give it a whirl if you consider yourself an early adopter.

To download, just go to the Rdio website or click this link from your Android smartphone. The app should work fine on devices running Android 1.6 or higher, but the startup promises it will support phones running Android 1.5 soon, too.

Tags: TC Android rdio
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