Pandora, Rdio Announce Pricing and Listening Changes
Rdio announced changes to its service and subscription models today, just a few weeks after Pandora’s recent changes to their own service model. Following up on their September 20 announcement of their website and service redesign (an upgrade from 40 free hours a month to 320 hours), yesterday Pandora emailed anyone with an account who had previously hit their 40-hour monthly limit with this message:
"Pandora now has Unlimited Free Listening
We’re emailing you because at some point in the past you hit the 40 hour monthly listening limit on Pandora. We’re excited to tell you that we’ve removed the monthly listening limit for Pandora. Starting now you can listen to Pandora as much as you’d like for FREE."
This appears to be an effort to draw back lost listeners who might have missed the initial announcement of the removal of the 40-hour limit, many of whom have migrated away from the Pandora Radio service, which was on the brink of collapse from 2008-2009 despite being an initial innovator in the field of internet radio.
In a related move, Rdio released a statement this morning, announcing the “launch of the first ever free, on-demand music offering with no ads. In a move that will redefine the digital music space, US users who sign up to Rdio on the web will now have access to full song streams for free while discovering and sharing music from a growing catalog of over 12 million songs. Only an email address or Facebook account is required to sign up and no software downloads or credit card information is needed to start instantly listening to music.”
Despite the repeated emphasis on “free,” the end of the announcement reiterates the priced subscription models:
“Free access users will see a customized meter at the top of their profile page indicating how much free music they have each month. At any time, they can choose to upgrade to one of Rdio’s flexible subscription plans for unlimited music streams and Rdio’s mobile apps.”
So, while Pandora has ditched users’ listening limitations, they’ve retained ads, while Rdio has added an ad-free version of Pandora’s earlier time-limited free service. It’s been a rough past few years for internet music services, radio or otherwise, and the future doesn’t look particularly bright considering popular service Spotify (which has exploded recently since finally launching in the US this past July) has come under fire for barely generating any revenue for indie artists under their current royalty model, as well as attracting criticism for requiring a Facebook account for all new users (which came with its own controversy that forced the company to implement private listening), despite the explosion in users that said partnership brought them.
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