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Rdio starts shutdown process with subscription cancellations

Pandora’s acquisition of certain Rdio assets has yet to close, but the latter company is nevertheless beginning the process of shutting down its streaming service.

“Effective Monday, November 23, if you currently have an Rdio subscription, it will be canceled on your next billing date, and you will no longer be automatically charged,” explained a note to subscribers posted this weekend.

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Why didn’t Pandora buy Rdio? It was $220m in debt

Pandora was clear in its announcement on Monday: it was buying certain assets of streaming service Rdio – technology and IP – while hiring a number of its employees. But it wasn’t buying the business as a whole.

“The business was challenged, and financially would have been a drain for us,” Pandora CFO Mike Herring told analysts, as we reported yesterday. The scale of that challenge was revealed overnight in Rdio’s bankruptcy filing, and the numbers don’t make for pretty reading.

“At the time of the bankruptcy filing, Rdio has more than $190 million in secured debt and about $30 million of unsecured debt,” noted The Hollywood Reporter, which got its hands on the filing.

“Much of the secured debt is owed to Pulser Media, which provided the bulk of the company’s financing since its inception in 2008 and is now a majority owner.”

But in terms of unsecured creditors, Rdio owes $2.7m to set-top box maker Roku; $2.4m to Sony Music; $1.25m to ticketing firm AXS Digital; $1.2m to Shazam; $613k to Warner Music; $500k to Facebook; $294k to Universal Music and $135k to Merlin.

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Pandora on Rdio deal: ‘We have an ambitious plan for our future’

We reported last night on Pandora’s plans to pay $75m for Rdio’s technology and IP while hiring “many” of its employees, in the company’s clearest step yet towards adding on-demand features to its existing personal-radio service.

Overnight, Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews and CFO Mike Herring gave analysts a briefing on those plans and how they think the Rdio assets will help them.

The key phrase may have come towards the end of the call, when Herring explained how the Rdio acquisition and Pandora’s recent $450m purchase of ticketing firm Ticketfly related to the upcoming Copyright Royalty Board decision on royalty rates.

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Pandora buys Rdio assets for $75m and plans on-demand features

Big news in the US: Pandora is buying “several key assets” from music-streaming service Rdio for $75m, in a move that it says will help it move towards on-demand streaming – and direct rivalry with Spotify, Apple Music and others.

The wording is careful: Pandora is buying “technology and intellectual property” from Rdio, while also hiring “many members of Rdio’s team” when the deal closes.

It’s NOT buying Rdio’s business, with bankruptcy proceedings for the latter carrying the potential to throw a spanner in the works.

Pandora says that it “expects to offer an expanded Pandora listening experience by late 2016, pending its ability to obtain proper licences”.

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Rdio heard you like radio, so it put more radio in your Rdio

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; 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.

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Rdio boss: streaming music is ‘a retail business not an internet business’

Streaming service Rdio has never said how many users it has, let alone subscribers, but its CEO Anthony Bay is using its underdog status to speak out increasingly candidly about the streaming market and his company’s rivals. As shown by his latest interview with Music Ally.

Bay took aim at Spotify’s business model. “This is a retail business, and that’s the first thing you have to remember. It’s not an internet business. What we do, what Spotify does: it’s a retail business not an internet business,” he said.

The difference? Internet companies don’t (usually) have the same kinds of content licensing costs, according to Bay. “But this [streaming music] business is more like retail: your margins are not high, but they’re understood – they’re in the high 20s to 30s and that’s not moving a ton… That’s where you have to design your business model around that structure, and learn to be incredibly efficient in terms of your cost structure.”