Streaming-music consumption is on the rise, but so is the competition. The challenge for service providers is how to stand out from the herd. For Rdio, the answer seems to lie in curated playlists or "stations" put together for its users by a combination of in-house and outside experts. In furtherance of this strategy, the Internet radio and on-demand service has announced the launch of several new expert-curated stations.
First up we have so-called "influencer" stations from the likes of country singer Hunter Hayes, fashion website Refinery29, and the New York edition of Yelp (yes, the consumer reviews site). The rest of the new additions in this category all belong to music-related publications or sites: Hype Machine, Consequence of Sound, A.V.Club, and Country Weekly.
Then we have "label" stations, which, as you may have guessed from the name, are playlists created by music labels. The new additions in this section include indies such as US Arts & Crafts, Barsuk Records, Blue Note, Burger Records, DFA Records, Frenchkiss Records, Glassnote Records, and Ultra Records. These join the initial batch of 20 or so label stations that Rdio rolled out in late March.
Why this matters: The industry has become so crowded lately that companies no longer have much room to maneuver. As if the many streaming-music services out there weren't a bit too similar to begin with, now even their attempts at innovation are also beginning to appear familiar. Rdio is not the only service that's banking on curation; Tidal, Slacker, and Apple Music, to name just a few, are all doing it (albeit in their own way).
That brings us to the second part of Rdio's survival strategy: global expansion. Although it remains a middling player, the company has managed to expand to as many as 85 countries--compared to 58 for Spotify--and is now actively looking to adapt its offering to local tastes. As a case in point, the company has just tied up with several local music labels across a number of key global markets, including Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore. These labels will be able to operate their own Rdio stations in their respective countries, in much the same way as their counterparts in the U.S., Canada and UK have been doing for the past few months.