Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Music-streaming service Rdio will pay artists for subscribers

Mike Snider/USA Today/jconline

Musicians looking for a new revenue stream can now get commissions from music service Rdio.

Under a new artists program, the 2-year-old streaming service will pay musicians $10 for each subscriber they bring to the service. Among the artists already on board are Snoop Lion (the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg) and members of alternative rock bands The Raconteurs and Scissor Sisters.

Musicians can share tracks and playlists on Facebook and Twitter, and that could lead some followers to subscribe to the service ($5 a month unlimited Web streaming; $10 a month for mobile, too.) "Fans can discover new music by seeing what their favorite artists are doing on Rdio," company CEO Drew Larner says. "It's sort of like Twitter meets music."

The new program could help Rdio stand out in the crowded and growing music-streaming category, which is expected to grow fourfold in 2012 to about $413 million, according to Strategy Analystics.

Many music streamers take advantage of free Web listening options on Rdio and competitors such as Spotify and MOG. Globally, only about 10 million listeners are subscribers, Larner says. That pales, he says, compared with satellite radio subscription service Sirius XM, which has about 25 million.

"We are saying to artists that we will pay you directly for bringing us a subscriber, which will get you money in the near term," Larner says. "But as you help us build our subscriber base, it will address that scale issue and you will ultimately get more money in the long run."

In addition to Snoop Lion, the DJ A-Trak and duo Chromeo join Scissor Sisters and Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs as the first Rdio artist program converts.

"I love that any new artist can take advantage of this program," said Snoop Lion in a comment accompanying the program's announcement. "I'm a fan of Rdio already and it's cool to see them supporting artists like this."

Artists have decried streaming services because much of the royalties go to labels.

"(Rdio) is saying we are just going to skip that and we are just going to do deals directly with artists," says Emily White, who manages Benson and runs his label, Readymade Records. "It's a bold statement."

The plan may be unique, "but it's not a solution to artist compensation," says Paul Resnikoff of Digital Music News. "This says, in essence, drive more people to our service, and we'll give you a piece."

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