We suspect that we’ve already used the word ‘radio’ more times on Music Ally in 2015 than in the past five years put together.

That’s thanks to launches like Apple’s Beats 1; Google Play making Songza free; Deezer and Spotify adding podcasts; the increased use of the term by other streaming services to describe their programmed playlists; and general buzz around how traditional radio fits with the streaming world.

Today, Rdio is making its latest move on the latter front. The streaming service is adding nearly 500 live, broadcast radio stations to its service in the US.

People will be able to tune in live, but then mark songs they hear playing as favourites for later access in Rdio’s streaming service, as well as spawning custom stations based on the track, browse the artist’s back catalogue, and share it on social networks.

In the US, the stations come from Rdio investor (and national radio giant) Cumulus Media, including sports and talk-radio. Rdio says that it will extend the live-radio feature internationally later this year.

There are a few ways to look at this. First, Rdio is now a rival to TuneIn as much as Spotify, with its app now a portal to live broadcast radio as much as it is to on-demand music.

Second, it’s more music to bolster Rdio’s free tier, which focuses on the custom-radio feature – and that in turn could widen the company’s funnel to convert people to its $3.99 and $9.99 premium tiers.

Third, it’s a glimpse at what, exactly, that Cumulus partnership is bringing to the streaming party, and perhaps a spur for similar deals from Rdio’s bigger rivals.

Rdio still hasn’t ever announced how many active and paying users it has, which complicates gauging the impact of today’s news. But the company has been using its nimble-underdog status to make some very interesting moves in recent times – the $3.99 Rdio Select tier was another – to at least nudge its bigger rivals in new directions.

Rdio evolving into a TuneIn but with several tiers of on-demand subscription attached is a genuinely interesting move. The task now is to keep getting new listeners to try it out.

Going head-to-head with Apple, Spotify and Google’s marketing budgets is out of the question, but Cumulus’ ability to promote Rdio to its FM audience, and perhaps more canny apps partnerships are sure to play a role.

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