Rdio ups the free music ante by ditching the ads along with the fees

Remember back in the old days when we had to pay for music? I kid of course, but if the streaming music companies stick to their current trajectories, it won't be long before paying for music will seem like an antiquated idea. Instead we'll be paying for enhancements to the delivery systems.

When Spotify hit the US it seemed to cause a wave of disruption. Spotify brought unlimited ad-supported music-on-demand to the masses, at least at launch. (We'll see how or if their model changes once they hit the six month mark; I suspect they'll have trouble getting that genie back into the bottle.) Then MOG.com fired back with their 'gas gauge' approach to free, letting users earn extra free-music fuel by doing various tasks. MOG.com introduced their free service without ads for two months. Again, we'll see how the experience changes once they hit that deadline and we start hearing ads. Both Spotify and MOG.com seem to require a Facebook account these days; not a requirement I'm a fan of.

But today we're talking about Rdio.com, the streaming music company with more than 12 million titles in its library. Rdio is also bringing a free tier to their streaming service. Like MOG, the amount of music you can listen to in a given month will be capped, but Rdio is going ad-free permanently.

In announcing the new free tier, Rdio CEO Drew Larner said:

"We're proud to be the only service in the US to offer everyone the opportunity to listen to millions of songs for free, without the distraction of a single ad. With free access to Rdio, now everyone has the freedom to discover what our fans already know - we're the best service for listening to and discovering music."

All you need is an email address (or a Facebook account) to get started. No credit card required and thankfully it sounds like Facebook and its Open Graph are supported but optional. Thank you, Rdio!

Rdio offers both web clients and desktop clients for Mac and Windows.

When you hit your cap on free music you can flip over to a $4.99/month Rdio Web subscription fee for unlimited music on your computer or go to the $9.99 Rdio Unlimited subscription and get the service on your smartphone, iPad, Roku or Sonos device. Also keep in mind that Rdio offers family plans for its Unlimited service: 2 users for $17.99 or 3 for $22.99.

Rdio has all the features we've come to expect in a streaming music service. Playlists (including collaborative lists), social media connections, artist 'radio stations' and a recommendation engine. But the whole point of this cash- and ad-free tier is that you can try it yourself and see if it suits your needs. The service should be launching today at www.rdio.com.

A lot will depend on exactly how big the caps on the free tier are, and what happens when you hit it. It seems like you just lose access to the service; the implication is that there is no way to keep going free but with ads. It'll be a challenge for Rdio to give enough free that people are willing to stick around and get attached to the service, but not give so much away that no one ever pays!

If you give the service a try, how about leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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