INTERVIEW: Marisol Segal of RDIO

The good people at RDIO have just announced a new way for artists to make money streaming music. The Rdio Artist Program will help Artists earn revenue from fan engagement. What does that mean? Cheryl asks RDIO Global Head of Marketing Marisol Segal.

People have been talking about this prospective artists reward program for months, and now it’s finally about to launch. Aside from the obvious financial benefits for artists and for Rdio, what other benefits will this program present?

Artists already use Rdio to share their music and the music they love with their fans right on the service and through Twitter and Facebook. Now with the Artist Program , they’ll be rewarded with $10 USD for any new subscriber they attract to the service.  Artists will also get access to a Dashboard where they can customize their Rdio artist page and view real-time stats on referrals.

This program complements the licensing deals we already have in place with labels and distributors for access to music on the service, adding an additional direct revenue channel to artists and providing a new element of transparency around the streaming music model.

One of the greatest and most innovative aspects of Rdio is the ability to stream on the go with apps for most mobile platforms and operating systems. Are there plans to build on these capabilities in the future and if so, can you give us any hints?

Our mobile apps are an integral part of the Rdio experience. We believe that they are the best in the business, and we are committed to updating them to ensure that they always deliver a first-rate on-the-go music experience across the widest possible spectrum of devices and platforms.

Your library has content from the four major labels [Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal] and certain independent labels, but your new program indicates that you’re “for the artist” to a degree. Will independent, unsigned artists be able to see their music on Rdio anytime soon?

Any independent and unsigned artist can easily get their music on Rdio. All they need to do is align themselves with a distributor, such a Tunecore or CD Baby, for example. These kinds of partners distribute music to digital services without the need of a record label deal. Providing a platform for independent and self-released artists is a priority for Rdio, which is why we have struck deals with the biggest independent distribution companies around the world.

There are no plans to run ads on Rdio which is intended to encourage users to pay a little more for a good-looking service that doesn’t harass you with pop-up ads after every three or so songs. While this is likely to promote longevity within your business, how do you remain competitive against the free, ad-supported services that are constantly popping up?

The way to remain competitive and differentiate ourselves is to be the best at what we do, or as you say, “by offering a good-looking service”. We believe in creating a music experience that is first-rate. Leading the pack in design, user experience and supporting the artist community is a main focus for us, and we think that is truly a draw for music fans.

At launch Rdio has no privacy settings, but sometimes a girl just wants to listen to Justin Beiber’s new album in complete secrecy, so I have to ask: Have your views on privacy settings changed?

Rdio is about music discovery through people, not machines. A big reason people love Rdio is because they can see and hear what other music fans, artists and other influencers are listening to. This type of social discovery exposes users to new music across the service.

Offering our users flexibility to experience music the way they want to has always been a priority for us. We currently have a variety of privacy settings available on Rdio and will continue bringing more options to users in the future. Currently, Rdio offers the ability to set your account to private, create private playlists, and opt out of automatically sharing the music you play on Facebook or Last.fm.

Do you think that by offering a reasonable and affordable service like the one it currently provides, Rdio can tackle the piracy issue that’s been plaguing the music industry? And, more importantly, is this something Rdio is interested in?

Piracy certainly remains not only our biggest competitor, but a huge issue. While it’s true that music can be obtained for free, it’s the way you experience music that matters. With some free options, you have to spend lots of time searching for music that might not be available or even legal to save. As well, you may be limited in how and where you access it.

We believe that consumers are willing to pay for a premium service like Rdio which offers music fans discovery and access to millions of songs whenever and wherever, even offline. We also believe music content is valuable and artists should be compensated.

Aussies are slowly waiting for the full catalogue to be licensed for Australia. Will we be waiting much longer?

Rdio’s catalogue is constantly growing and we add thousands of new songs every day. Music licensing is complex and there are a variety of reasons that we may occasionally not have the rights to stream certain albums or songs. We are committed to constantly growing our music library. We will continue adding to it and signing new Australian and international labels and distributors to make sure Rdio has the best music to offer to our users.

You’re in 13 territories (or were, at last count) and you’re looking to expand into Asia and South America (but correct me if I’m wrong); territorial expansions like these grow your catalogue. How many songs are you able to support? How big are you willing to let the catalogue grow? And, can you give any hints about how you’re going to integrate the new artists program into these global territories?

We are actually now in 14 countries – and counting. When we launch in a new territory, it is extremely important to us to have as much locally distributed music as possible. The music catalog for Rdio will always be a priority and you will see that catalogue continue to grow in all the countries where we are available.

The Artist Program is available in every territory where Rdio is currently live. Artists in each country can participate and share their music and their favourites with their fans locally and across the world.

Words by Cheryl Billman

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You may or may not know Cheryl as the girl who’s unhealthily obsessed with Yves Klein Blue. I also swear a lot, and I promise, I’m working on that. Just for you guys. Because I love you.