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Music Service No One Wanted Will No Longer Run on Speaker No One Bought

R.I.P. Rdio and Aether.

Aether via The Verge

If you were an Rdio subscriber and the proud owner of an Rdio-powered Aether Cone Internet-connected speaker, congratulations! You got doubly screwed this week.

Sonos competitor Aether, which made a well-designed “smart” speaker called the Cone, recently died (R.I.P.). Yesterday, the remnants of Spotify competitor Rdio (R.I.P.) were snatched up by Pandora for about $75 million. Neither of these deaths are particularly surprising.

Aether offered a really well-made $400 audio device in 2014 that only used one (now defunct) music streaming service. In contrast, Sonos has a whole Internet-connected ecosystem of (also expensive) speakers, plus an expansive roster of streaming services. Amazon’s Echo has an AI tie-in and a handful of audio streaming options. Unless you were all-in on Rdio, it probably didn’t make a lot of sense to own an Aether Cone, which is why it’s dead.

Rdio’s demise has more to do with the economics of music streaming. Spotify and YouTube offer unlimited free listening that is supported by ads. Per Re/code’s Peter Kafka, here’s what Pandora plans to do:

Instead it will look to add an on-demand service, presumably at the $10-a-month price point that Rdio, Spotify and everyone else sells for. In other words: Limited music for free, unlimited music for a fee.

That’s the same model Apple uses with its Apple Music service: You can listen to Beats Music and other Apple-programmed Internet radio stations for free, forever; if you want on-demand music, you need to pay up.

Pour one out for Aether and Rdio.

Thanks to Re/code reader Jeff for spotting.

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