New music service courts tech-averse listeners
LONDON (Reuters) - A simple new online music service will launch across Europe and North America this week aimed at the millions who like music but struggle with the technology to find and listen to it.
Rara.com, which will be pre-loaded on some HP laptops and smartphones using Google's Android operating system, will offer 10 million tracks for a subscription from around 99 pence or cents a month at the outset.
The service, also accessible via an Internet web page, will be in 15 European countries and the United States from Tuesday, and Canada and Mexico later this week, the company said.
"I believe that almost all of the services that are available today are targeted at tech-savvy people who know quite a lot about music," Chief Executive Rob Lewis told Reuters in an interview. "That is only 20 percent of consumers, we are interested in the 80 percent."
Several new online music services have launched in recent years, seeking to tap in to the move to online music and provide an alternative to Apple's iTunes music offering.
Many struggled or eventually disappeared as they spent months negotiating terms with an often inflexible music industry
unwilling to relinquish control of its content at a time when illegal online piracy was raging.
Rara.com's subscription will rise after three months to $4.99 or 4.99 pounds for computer users and 9.99 to include smartphones or tablets.
It will also be available in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore before Christmas and launch soon on Apple's iOS operating system.
"I think there is a recognition throughout the entire industry that despite huge efforts by many parties, digital is nowhere near the penetration that the CD was just 18 months after its launch," Lewis said.
The service, which will carry no advertising, has been heavily tested on elder consumers and those put off from buying digital music because they found it too complicated.
Low initial prices were designed to attract customers unsure about signing up to new services before they knew how they worked, Lewis said.
The service will be run by Lewis, a co-founder of the successful Omnifone music technology service, which provides a white label music platform enabling other companies such as Sony Ericsson to launch their own branded music offerings. Omnifone will power the new rara.com service.
The service will offer curated channels playing different genres of music, which could in time be suitable for cars.
"We put a small team together with the task to build a music service that everyone's grandmother could use," Lewis said. "It's unbelievably easy."
(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by David Cowell)