Music service Rdio launches in Australia

news Rdio, the music streaming service from the founders of Skype has launched in Australia and New Zealand this week, according to a blog post on their website. Rdio is now available on the web, iPad, iPod touch, smartphones like the iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows Phone 7, and on desktop apps. Rdio is also available for users with a Sonos wireless audio system at home.

Rdio is currently available in several other countries including the US, Canada, Germany and Brazil. Rdio is offering a seven-day free trial of Rdio Unlimited for Australians, who can sign up using Facebook or their email address.

Subscribers can play any of 12 million songs from major labels and thousands of international and domestic independent labels, without any limits and without advertisements. Users can follow friends, other users with similar taste in music, and influencers. The service offers access to music from anywhere as soon as it is released, and offline listening by syncing music to mobile phones. Creation of collaborative playlists and sharing with friends on Facebook, Twitter and is also possible. Users travelling abroad can continue to use their Rdio account. Rdio also offers recommendations and suggestions to users on what to play next, with artist radio stations and customised radio stations from other users’ collections.

There were no streaming music services available in Australia a year ago; that has changed in the current scenario, with at least six services pitching their wares to Aussie customers. All offer music from the big four music labels – Sony Music, Universal Music, EMI Music and Warner Music, in addition to independent labels. Microsoft’s Zune Pass offers 13 million tracks, while Music Unlimited and BBM Music both offer 10 million tracks. Songl has four million tracks and Samsung Music Hub has three million.

Like Rdio, the all-you-can-eat model is offered by Music Unlimited, Zune Pass, Samsung Music Hub and Songl, all of which also offer cloud-based access, use of the service on specific home entertainment devices, and mobile apps. BBM Music from Research in Motion (RIM) limits subscribers to 50 songs, while allowing access to music from BBM Music friends – an interesting way of discovering new music. BBM Music is accessible only by Blackberry users.

Songl is one of the only Australian unlimited music streaming services currently available on the iPhone, in addition to being available on Android, the Sonos music system and desktop web browsers. Zune Pass is the only service that allows purchase as well as streaming of music tracks, and complete download of tracks on the Windows Phone and Zune Music Player, in place of streaming.

Sony’s Music Unlimited offers a Now Playing Screen that allows users to jump to other albums by the same artist, browse for similar artists, and read detailed artist biographies where available. Premium channels also enable browsing through the global top 100, local top 100 and top 100 lists for particular genres, and a “you might like” recommendation based on tracks in the user’s library. The “Music Sync” feature also allows replication of songs already on the user’s desktop to Music Unlimited, a PC-only feature.

With the impending launch of Spotify, the market for music streaming services in Australia looks to be heading for intense competition and more choices for customers.

Image credit: Rdio


  1. Not bad at all will see how it goes on my tablet multi device support is awesome though all it needs is an app for my smart tv and will be covered on all fronts.

    Also you can download whatever you want for offline playback which will help keep me under my usage cap

  2. Great to have another option here. Shame they are gouging Aussies on price – Rdio web only costs US$4.99/month in the US, while here it’s AUD$8.90/month. The Unlimited service (including mobile streaming) is US$9.99/month vs. AUD$12.90/month. I wonder how they justify this price difference, given that the exchange rate is still roughly 1:1 ?

    • I imagine the justification would be different / additional content deals to provide Australian content.

  3. Don’t mind that price difference at all for Rdio between Australian and US. It’s only $3 more per month. iTunes gouges far more per track price in Australia compared to the US.

    $12.90 per month for Unlimited service is very reasonably priced. The exchange rate will fluctuate so maybe there’s a bit of contingency built in at that price?

    Great to see Australia finally getting some good, legal music streaming services. It’s about time!

  4. +Neil – it’s true, the price differential isn’t nearly as bad as some other products and services (Apple historically being one of the higher profile offenders, but they are not alone).

    I guess I was just spoilt by back when they offered mobile streaming to Australia for US$3/month. It’s a different type of service (eg, you don’t have full control over your playlist), but it hit the price point where I happily subscribed without feeling like I needed to use it heaps to get my money’s worth …. that was before they blocked it here due to the usual licensing argy-bargy.

  5. The problem with rdio, is that it’s “renting” access to music.

    Say you spend ~$155 in the first year on the deluxe all you can eat musical buffet. In month 14 if you walk away, any spend is gone.

    The difference is, at the end of the day, iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp all provide a single copy for you to retain. You might pay more for the track, but at least you actually get to keep it.

    rdio compares nicely price wise to iTunes Match, but the title range is a let down.

    Having used the service over Sunday, I was driven nuts by the scattergun coverage of bands (half of Crystal Method’s albums aren’t available here – even ‘Vegas’ which had an australian release).

    If you want music on the go, have a viable mobile plan (this is going to eat most 3G plans for breakfast) then great. I can see this typing people to wireless, which reduces it’s use to wifi devices, not really so useful imho.

    I hope the catalog increases to match the US version, but given the douchbaggery going on (still) around region locking I can’t see it being improved soon.

    • Steve Jobs makes this point very clearly in his biography — people want to own music rather than rent it on a subscription basis. I know I personally feel this way.

      However, I am conscious that younger people than me (I am 30) may not feel this way. Younger people are more used to be able to stream anything from the web whenever they want it, and this, plus the cost decreases may be driving the resurgence of the rental model. It will be interesting to see which way it goes — personally I think it likely we’ll have both rental and buying music as part of a nicely sized and priced legal ecosystem.

  6. Yes, “renting” doesn’t appeal to this consumer, unless the price is low enough to reflect the fact that you are only renting. I prefer to think that I’ll have my music collection for years to come, and be able to pull out old stuff to listen to with fresh ears later on.

    The cost of 3G in Australia is definitely a limiting factor for any of these mobile streaming services. My solution, albeit probably a geeky one, is to run a Subsonic server at home – this allows pre-caching a playlist via wifi before leaving the house, but still keeps the entire collection on a central server (it’s a bit like roll-your-own Google Music). It will even downsample automatically to save bandwidth on 3G if you decide you want to hear a certain uncached track outside of wifi range.

    Running personal servers is probably not for everyone, but it really fills a void in the Australian market given that Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player haven’t officially launched here. Despite this, I’d pay for a reasonably priced streaming service if it was available (eg, since I like the music discovery aspect – something you don’t get when streaming your own collection.

  7. Glad it was useful Phil – I rarely hear much chatter about Subsonic, it doesn’t seem to get the exposure it deserves. I think if the the web and mobile UI were polished up a little it could become seriously popular.

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