Skype Founder Offers Musicians Cash to Sign Rdio Users

Rdio Inc., a music streaming service started by billionaire Skype co-founder Janus Friis, is offering recording artists $10 for each new subscriber they attract.

Snoop Lion, formerly Snoop Dogg, the Scissor Sisters, A- Trak, Chromeo and Brendan Benson are among the first artists joining the Rdio Artist Program, the San Francisco-based company said today in an e-mailed statement.

Rdio is forging alliances with recording artists to gain an edge on Spotify Ltd. and other bigger music-streaming competitors. Artists’ recommendations on Rdio will appear on Twitter and Facebook, giving the service a wider audience. The program, active in the 14 countries where Rdio operates, augments existing licensing deals with labels and distributors for access to music.

“There is no art without artists,” Friis said in the statement. “We know a business that doesn’t reward its most important contributors is a business that has to change. The innovation of the Internet should not be a barrier to the success of music artists, it should allow them to be even more successful.”

Rdio, started in August 2010, competes with London-based Spotify and Seattle-based Rhapsody International Inc. in offering subscriptions for unlimited music streaming. It offers service in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, U.K., France, Sweden, Finland and Norway, according to the statement.

Friis and Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom agreed to sell their Skype Web-calling venture in 2005 to San Jose, California- based EBay Inc. (EBAY) for $2.6 billion, only to buy it back with a consortium that included Silver Lake (SLR) and sell it to Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in 2011 for $8.5 billion.

Rdio offers a limited free service and sells monthly subscriptions. An unlimited computer-only plan is $4.99, while service on computers and mobile devices is $9.99. The company also offers an unlimited $17.99 family plan with two accounts or $22.99 for three accounts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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