With Spotify cementing themselves at the top of the online music streaming game, an industry now reportedly earning the global music industry $1 billion, other players need to continue to roll out some big plans to keep up with the Swedish leaders.

As FasterLouder reports, fellow purveyors of digital music Rdio have put together a new program believed to be the first of its kind in Australia. Simply called the “Rdio Artist Program”, the business promises to give recording artists $US 10 per new subscriber they attract to the website.

No it’s not a hokey new pyramid scheme, but in fact an incentive for the artist to entice more listeners to a streaming service, while for Rdio it’s a win-win situation as they get more subscribers to their streaming platform. It’s also a boon for musicians who get paid a pittance from streaming services to being with.

Marisol Segal, Rdio’s Executive Direct of Marketing and Content, spoke about the new Artist Program to music personality, Alan Cross, saying: “We wanted to create a platform for artists to share their music and recommendations.”

Segal goes on to explain the plan behind the new program, “Artists can now set up accounts to communicate with their fans.  For each fan they can turn into an Rdio subscriber, we will pay the artist $10.”

Paying the artist direct (for services rendered) is a change from how things worked online before the program, where artists would receive royalties based on how many streams their music earns. However, the whole premise of online streaming businesses have inevitably been subject to critics – mostly in the form of the musicians themselves.

Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear are particularly vocal about the issue  recently tweeting: “Spotify might be good for exposure but after about 10 thousand plays we got approximately 10 dollars. It provides a great service for people. Does it help a band? No more than downloading from Lime Wire.”

The new Rdio Artist Program is a new way for artists to connect with their fans and it also appears to achieve what the now-defunct Apple program Ping could not.

International acts already signed up to the Artist Program include Snoop Dogg Lion, Scissor Sisters and Ladyhawke while local musicians Bluejuice, Gypsy and the Cat and Angus Stone have jumped aboard as well.

Sydney popstar Catcall, who was already an avid user of Rdio before, spoke to FasterLouder about the launch of the new program.

“As a smaller artist I don’t really see that much, if any revenue from CD sales or streaming services so I guess I see this as gaining income through one of these services directly – that’s if people sign up. And because I was already using Rdio, my participation feels quite natural.”

She goes on, “I’m going to be more active in creating playlists on it now. I think anything that rewards an artist by doing something they’re comfortable with, like listening to music, is positive. The fact is streaming services are here to stay, there’s probably a lot of improvement needed to on the model to benefit artists, but this does feel like a start.”

With American singer-songwriter James Taylor suing his Warner Bros label for $2 million for unfair digital downloads, we wonder if he’ll agree if Rdio’s new Artist Program feels “like a start” as well.

Marisol Segal does. “We love musicians.  We want them to be paid. This is a way for them to leverage our affiliate program.”

No doubt musicians like Taylor and Grizzly Bear, and others who are vocal in this topic of discussion, will have things to say in the coming days.

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