The landgrab for online music streaming services continues. On the heels of reports that Spotify is planning to take its web-based music player global to complement its desktop and mobile apps, competitor Rdio is extending of its own browser-based music streaming service to seven more markets. Today, the company — founded and backed in 2010 by Skype/Kazaa/Joost co-founder Janus Friis — announced availability in Mexico, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, and Austria, taking the total number of countries served by Rdio to 24.
Now, users in these seven markets will have access to Rdio’s catalog of 18 million tracks free of charge for six-month trials — no card payment details needed. Other features include many of the same ones that Spotify has been introducing more recently, including the ability to follow friends and “tastemakers,” collaborate on playlists and share tracks on social networks — in this case Facebook and Twitter.
Rdio also today announced that it has extended the six-month trial also to Brazil, which was not included with other Rdio markets in the original rollout of the free offer in January. Germany, the other market excluded in January, is still left out.
Users can also test the mobile service on a 14-day trial. That mobile service has also been updated, by way of a new iOS app release today with more social features and a few other features, and an Android update last week.
Rdio uses the free trial as a way to introduce users to the service without asking them to pay fees up front. There is some logic behind this. While Spotify, with an ad-based freemium model,has announced some 20 million users overall, with 5 million of them paying, it’s questionable whether Rdio has seen that same scale of growth for its service, which charges the local equivalents of £4.99 per month for unlimited web streaming and £9.99 a month to include other devices like mobile.
Up to now, Rdio has been able to differentiate itself from Skype in part because of its ubiquity on the web. But competitive pressure on Rdio could get a little heavier in future. Spotify is currently testing out a web-based player in the UK. “We’ve been letting a small number of users try out a beta version of our new web player. We’re now letting more UK users try out the player as we gear up for a wider rollout,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch via email. But we’ve also heard that this is just the test market ahead of a wider, global push.
With Rdio already serving key markets like the U.S., much of Western Europe, and Brazil, the expansion to countries like Ireland and Lithuania is clearly a secondary-market expansion. But what it shows is that the company continues to build out its service in the overall streaming music landgrab — a strategy that it plans to complement with new discovery tools in the months ahead.
“Rdio is the best product on the market for discovering music, and we will continue to improve that discovery experience by developing smarter tools to surface artists and songs our users love,” said Drew Larner, CEO of Rdio, in a statement. “By opening the social circle to seven new international markets, we’re making Rdio an increasingly global way to play, discover, and share music.”
Beyond discovery and geography, Rdio’s growth will also come in the form of new media, with Rdio’s employees currently working on a new video venture, called Vdio.
This is not a pivot, but an expansion: Vdio will sit alongside the existing Rdio music service. Todd Berman, the VP of engineering at Rdio, describes it as a “sister offering,” created by Rdio’s people and existing on shared infrastructure.
“We’re not moving away from music in any way, shape, or form,” Berman said in an interview, noting that the reason for the expansion is not as a statement of how well the Rdio offering has done against music streaming competitors like Spotify or Pandora, but because “people are interested in consuming content, not just music.” Berman himself is actually stepping down from his role this week.