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Rdio Opens Social Music Service To Public

The service delivers music, based on subscribers' online social networks, to smartphones and personal computers for a monthly fee.
Rdio, a creation of Skype and Kazaa co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, has ended its invitation-only period and has made its social music service generally available.

The online music subscription service that draws heavily on social networking became publicly available on Tuesday. The service delivers music to smartphones and personal computers for a monthly fee.

The major difference between Rdio and most current subscription services, such as Napster, Rhapsody and Zune Pass, is Rdio's use of subscribers' online social networks to recommend songs. Where other services uses algorithms that base recommendations on the music a person listens to, Rdio bases its suggestions on music a subscriber's friends like. The service does this by giving users the option to follow the musical tastes of friends and people on Facebook and Twitter in order to discover new songs.

Rdio also offers mobile subscribers offline access to their music library by downloading songs to their devices' hard drives. While the option is not yet standard in the industry, others, such as MOG and Europe's Spotify, offer similar services.

Rdio, pronounced ar-dee-oh, charges $9.99 per month for unlimited access to music on a computer or smartphone. Browser-only access on a desktop or laptop costs $4.99 a month.

The service, which has been available by invitation only since June, is generally available only in the United States and Canada. Rdio, has applications for the Apple iPhone, Research In Motion BlackBerry and smartphones running Google's Android operating system.

Rdio, which claims to have a catalog of 7 million songs, also announced Tuesday deals with independent music publishers IODA, IRIS, Finetunes, INgrooves and The Orchard. In addition, Rdio said it would offer music profiles from publication and influencer, such as Spin Magazine, Pitchfork, KCRW Radio and Fader magazine.

"By taking the work out of what to play next and relying on recognized taste-makers, not computer algorithms, people are going to find new music they like," Drew Larner, chief executive for Larner, said in a statement.

Music download services, such as Apple's iTunes and Amazon, dominate online music today. However, with the number of Web-enabled devices growing, the demand for streaming music is expected to increase. Forrester Research predicts the number of people subscribing to music services will increase to more than 5 million by 2014 from 2.1 million today.

Industry observers expect Apple to eventually launch a music subscription service based on its acquisition of LaLa last December. However, the company has yet to announce its plans.

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