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Rdio Challenges Pandora With Personalized Radio Service

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Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Rdio Inc., the music-streaming service started by Skype co-founder Janus Friis, is adding personalized stations in a bid to draw listeners away from Pandora Media Inc., the biggest online radio service.

Rdio can combine listening history, track voting, Facebook likes and Twitter follows to create a virtual station tailored to a specific listener, Chris Becherer, vice president of product, said in an interview. Stations based on artists, songs, popularity and friends are also available, he said.

The new feature is aimed at persuading more users to pay for Rdio rather than leaving after their free trial ends, Becherer said. The company gives away its commercial-free service for six months on computers and two weeks on mobile devices. After that, it costs $10 a month.

“We definitely view Rdio as a mass-market service and radio as a mass-market concept,” Becherer said. “In two weeks on a mobile device, you should be able to create an interesting experience and see a stark difference compared with Pandora.”

Rdio, available in the U.S. and 30 other countries, doesn’t disclose how many free or paying subscribers it has. Pandora, which operates in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, is the biggest online radio streaming service, with 71.2 million active listeners at the end of July.

There is plenty of overlap between the two services, and the new radio feature may help keep more customers loyal, Becherer said. About half of Rdio’s listeners also get their music from Pandora and other streaming services, he said.

Shares of Oakland, California-based Pandora rose 1.5 percent to $18.91 at 10:01 a.m. in New York. The shares have more than doubled this year. Closely held Rdio is based in San Francisco.

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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