When Rdio Select rides into battle against Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify and the rest of streaming music’s superpowers in Europe this summer, its biggest rivals will be there, ready and waiting.
Rdio CEO Anthony Bay told Music Week that his company’s Select tier, which marries radio-style playlists with the ability to save a select number of songs to one’s phone every day for $3.99 per month, will not get to market before Apple Music does at the end of June.
Even though Rdio already is available in some form or other in 85 countries around the world, including most of the European Union, Rdio Select is available in just a handful of markets because the company has had to negotiate a different kind of royalty rate for Rdio Select, whose song-saving feature is different enough that artists and labels feel they need to be compensated differently.
“We can’t do anything unilaterally,” Bay told International Business Times. “That’s not the way the business works.” The first markets to get Rdio Select were the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India.
Having to make new deals in each territory, sometimes with partners who are set on one mode of compensation for streaming, slowed things down, Bay said. "The industry has developed its structure around 9.99 and everything new requires more discussions," Bay told Music Week. That was the case in the U.S. as well, where Rdio Select’s royalty rates had to be negotiated separately from the rates it pays creators on its Rdio Basic and Rdio Unlimited tiers.
Though Bay was one of several streaming CEOs who welcomed the formal unveiling of Apple Music, he is likely to be worried in private about the instant ubiquity of Apple Music, which will go live in 110 countries on June 30. On that day, Apple device owners will have access to an on-demand streaming service that also includes curated radio. Rdio is active in 85 countries around the world, more than Spotify but fewer than Deezer, which is active in 180.
Those users also will get to experience Apple Music for free. In exchange for higher royalty rates down the line, Apple’s label and publishing partners agreed to let Apple skip paying them anything for music streamed on Apple Music while the service is in its free mode.