Rdio Music Streaming goes Free in US, Canada

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Online music streaming service Rdio launched a free version on Thursday in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The move follows a deal with Cumulus Media and should help Rdio better compete with services such as Pandora and Spotify, as well as Apple's brand new iTunes Radio.

Rdio adds free listening option to its music streaming serviceRdio adds free listening option to its music streaming service

Ads will appear in the Web-based version of the Rdio player, although the native iPhone and Android versions of the Rdio app won't include any advertisements.

Free comes at a price, and in the case of Rdio that's the inability to choose music based on songs, artists, albums, or genre. That's a feature you get with a monthly subscription starting at US$4.99 a month.

Apple launched its iTunes Radio streaming music service in September with the release if iOS 7. The feature is available through iTunes on Macs and Windows PCs, and through the Music app on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Users can listen for free with ads, and iTunes Match subscribers listen ad-free.

iTunes Radio isn't as limiting for free users. Apple lets all listeners choose music based on artist, genre, or songs, and they can create their own customized stations, too.

Rdio's free service should put it in a much better position to compete with the big names in the streaming music market, and its deal with Cumulus Media -- one of the big names in the commercial radio market -- should be a boost as well.

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The online streaming music market was already a big battle ground, and with Apple joining the mix it's no surprise that companies like Spotify, Pandora, and now Rdio are working to make their products more compelling. Adding a free option to to its lineup was a smart move for Rdio.

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