Pandora to Buy Failed Rdio to Take on Spotify, Apple Music

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The streaming music service Rdio has filed for bankruptcy protection, and Pandora is snapping up their assets for US$75 million. Rdio, it seems, wasn't able to compete with Spotify, but Pandora is betting it can take those pieces and take on Spotify as well as Apple Music with a new music subscription service.

Rdio tanks, Pandora buys them for $75 millionRdio tanks, Pandora buys them for $75 million

Right now Pandora is more like traditional over-the-air radio in that it doesn't offer listeners much control over what they listen to. Users can tell Pandora what kind of music they want to hear, but they can't take control over their listening experience in the same way that Spotify or Apple Music subscribers do.

Pandora hasn't said exactly how it plans to retool Rdio's assets for its own use, but the company did offer up some hints. The press release announcing the purchase said Pandora plans to offer listeners "greater control over the music they love."

CEO Brian McAndrews added,

Pandora is building the definitive source for fans to discover and celebrate music. Wherever and however fans want to hear music, we intend to be their go-to destination.

In other words, Pandora wants to expand its radio-ish streaming music experience with strong music discovery support. That sounds a lot like Apple Music.

The online music market is a harsh business right now, and the companies that survive will be the ones who keep users listening. For Pandora, it looks like the strategy is to be an all-in-one service like Apple Music.

The Rdio purchase still has to get approval from the bankruptcy court, and once that's done Pandora can move forward with its plans for new services. The company expects to roll out its expanded offerings by late 2016.

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Rdio couldn't compete with Spotify, but Pandora thinks it can take what Rdio built and use the pieces to become the online music service. It seems streaming music services live, as they say, in interesting times.

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