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Yet another music service has launched today called rara.com and it is aiming for a mainstream audience, leaving existing music services to chase after musos and early adopters.

The company, brainchild of Omnifone founder Rob Lewis, believes that an aggressive price point and an easy user experience will help it cut through to the mainstream of consumers, who Lewis believes are confused by the existing music-streaming services.

Rara.com launched today in 18 countries, with a further five planned later in the week. It has an agreement with HP in place that will see the service pre-loaded onto its devices as the default media player.

The company aims to entice those people who have not yet been convinced by music streaming by pricing its service at 99p for the first three months. The pricing then returns to what seems to be the industry standard of £4.99 for the web version and £9.99 for access on mobile, with the ability to listen offline.

Lewis has a fair argument around current services being aimed at those who are serious music fans and also interested in new technology. He says that this section of people represents about 20% of the market and as new music services launch, they keep vying for this same small segment, creating a very fragmented ecosystem.

The usability, while a bit distractingly colourful, is a lot more image led and easier to use. Spotify is incredibly hard to get into, unless you are already very into music, with huge text-based library and lists to overcome. It relies on the free service to get people interested, hoping that once they have a few playlists and learn their way around, they’ll subscribe. The proportion of subscribed users is still a lot smaller than free, but they are making headway into gaining significant volumes of paid users.

Labels, distributors and musicians, despite acknowledging that Spotify is a good step for reducing piracy, tend to dislike the idea of having free services, because the return to rights owners is so low. Subscription only is preferred but it is a hard sell.

Like upcoming music service Boinc, which new media age reviewed earlier this year (nma.co.uk 24 October 2011) , a key to hitting this mainstream will be having a consistent service across all platforms. Lewis wouldn’t give details of agreements beyond the HP deal but hinted that partnerships with car manufacturers would be ideal for the company.

Launching in so many territories will be a selling point for big car brands, who are looking for services to build into cars that discourage any distractions by having set playlists, and need global scale to do so.

The strategy for this launch is sound and the company also promised a strong commitment in terms of ad spend to make it work. My only hesitation about the service is its look. It seems very easy to use and the way you navigate is slick and modern, but something about the style doesn’t quite work for me. However, I am part of that 20% it is not trying to please and Lewis claims there has been extensive consumer testing, so it may well have that spot on too.


Published 13 December, 2011 by NMA Staff

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