Rdio first started rolling out label-curated stations back in March, kicking off with 20 — these included Astralwerks, Merge Records, Def Jam, Domino Recording Company, Sub Pop, and Warner Music Nashville. These stations have hitherto only been available in the U.S., Canada, and U.K., but today sees a bigger global launch and a slew of new stations added, including Blue Note, Burger Records, Glassnote Records, and XL, though the available stations will vary from country-to-country.
The new markets added to the label-curated stations are: Australia, Mexico, Brazil, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.
However, perhaps the bigger news here is that Rdio is introducing stations from so-called “Influencers,” which broadcasts hand-picked tunes from individuals or groups who work in tandem with Rdio’s own in-house music team. This replaces the prior “Tastemakers” section, which were created by individuals independently, and which users could elect to “follow” on Rdio.
While some of the new influencers make a lot of sense, and include the likes of country singer Hunter Hayes and music publication AltSounds, others are a little confusing. For example, Yelp — the user-review platform for local businesses — holds “Influencer” status in the U.S. and Canada. At first I thought this might have been a “sponsored” initiative, but we’re assured that it isn’t.
Today’s expansion also sees a slight tweak in the Rdio interface — the main name of the stations section is now “Stations,” which does actually make sense when you think about it. However, before today, you had to click “Browse” to access this.
The rise of the humans
Launched in 2010 by Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, Rdio has been facing increasingly stiff competition in the on-demand music-streaming realm, with Spotify solidifying its position and Apple Music recently entering the streaming fray.
Indeed, Apple’s launch last month was interesting in that a key part of its offering is Beats 1 — an actual radio station with real DJs at the helm. As we said at the time, Beats 1 is perfect for the casual music fan, as it solves a major discovery headache and makes the prospect of switching on much less daunting. While Beats 1 is hardly disrupting the music industry, it’s a useful tool to lure people on board and maybe — just maybe — get them to sign up for a paid streaming subscription.
Rdio’s now doubling-down on its own human-powered efforts and, as with Apple’s Beats 1, its new stations are available across all tiers, including the free incarnation.