A bit late but the US-based music streaming service Rdio has finally launched in India. This is the second international music streaming to launch in India recently, after Australian streaming service Guvera launched in India in November 2014. The launch of Rdio can, at some level, be seen as the relaunch of Dhingana. Rdio had earlier acquired Dhingana to enter the Indian market in March last year and both the founders Snehal & Swapnil Shinde had joined Rdio to drive the company’s efforts in India and other emerging markets. Dhingana had shut down in February last year.
Yesterday, when MediaNama contacted Rdio to confirm their plans, Swapnil Shinde, Dhingana co-founder and now Vice President, Product – International Markets, did not share any details, only saying that he would call back later. We haven’t heard from him since, despite attempts to contact him.
From what sources tell us, Rdio has been signing partnerships with music labels over the past few months and Swapnil Shinde has been driving these partnerships in India. They were initially expected to launch in December first week but it got deferred owing to delays in closing partnerships. Shinde told Medianama last month that they were not ready for launch as yet.
We hope that Rdio India doesn’t run into trouble with labels this time around, considering that T-Series, possibly the biggest music label in India, had extended mobile streaming rights to Saavn and Gaana last year, thereby ending the mobile exclusivity to Hungama. Note that T-series not renewing its contract was considered one of the main reasons for Dhingana shutting down in February last year, a month prior to the Rdio acquisition.
Like in the US, Rdio has taken a freemium model in India. On the web, it allows users to play specific tracks similar to what competing services like Saavn and Gaana are doing. It’s currently not clear whether these songs are ad-supported or not, since we didn’t notice any ads at the time of writing this article. Although we could expect ads in the future, since Rdio is offering an ad-free web streaming subscription at Rs 60 per month.
On the mobile app, Rdio has however opted for a music stations approach on mobile, wherein it offers Nokia Mix Radio-like mixes across various genres for free. Users have to opt for a unlimited subscription priced at Rs 119 per month if they want to listen to a specific album, track, and playlist or cache these songs.
In comparison, competitors Saavn and Gaana currently allow free streaming on their respective mobile apps, although it has paid tiers for those who want an ad-free experience and intend to cache songs on their mobile devices for offline listening. Gaana charges Rs 120 per month while Saavn’s unlimited plan is priced at Rs 220 per month. Hungama is probably the lowest among the lot, charging Rs 110 per month for unlimited audio and video access.
Besides Saavn, Gaana and Hungama, telecom operator Airtel has a music service called Wynk* while Vodafone had launched a music streaming service in December 2013. Reliance Industries’ data service venture Reliance Jio is also developing a music streaming service called Jio Beats, which is expected to launch along with the company’s 4G service.
Updates: Added pricing information
*Disclosure: Airtel Wynk is an advertiser with Medianama