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Rdio changes leadership tune, naming new CEO

Online subscription music service hires a former Amazon executive to try to increase its global reach and subscriber rolls, following layoffs last month.


After trimming staff last month to save money, online subscription music service Rdio has named Anthony Bay -- a former Amazon, Microsoft and Apple exec -- as chief executive.

Bay will succeed longtime CEO Drew Larner, who will become vice chairman and an adviser to the board, Rdio said Tuesday in its announcement.

The streaming segment is the music industry's area of greatest growth, but it's intensely competitive, and Rdio has been going up against rivals that beat it either in global reach, like Spotify; in profitability, like Slacker; or in pure size, like Pandora.

Rdio didn't immediately respond to CNET's queries regarding the reason for the change in leadership. In a statement, Rdio founder Janus Friis said the company has accomplished its first goal "to build the best music streaming experience" and now needs to expand its global reach and its active, paying subscriber base.

"Anthony will also play a critical role in unlocking the value of our global terrestrial radio partnerships," Friis said.

In September, Rdio said it was launching a free, ad-supported music service as part of a partnership with radio station operator Cumulus.

The deal was meant to make Rdio more competitive with the likes of Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes Radio by giving it broader access to the terrestrial radio giant's programming and promotion across Cumulus' 525 radio stations. In addition to providing content for Rdio users, Cumulus will sell advertising for Rdio's free, ad-supported version. Otherwise, Rdio charges $5 to $10 a month for access to its music library.

Including the Cumulus deal, the leadership switch is the biggest alteration so far in several changes that are morphing Rdio. Last month, Rdio confirmed it was making workforce reductions to improve its cost structure "and ensure a scalable business model for the long term," according to Nada Antoun, director of public relations.

Bay is the former head of Amazon's global video business and held numerous roles at Microsoft, including jobs on its e-commerce technology platform and Windows Media Technologies. Prior to joining Microsoft, he spent eight years at Apple, three of those in Europe, where his responsibilities included leading Apple's online services.