Rdio, still reeling from having laid off up to one third of its staff last month, has named Anthony Bay, former head of digital video at Amazon, as chief executive. Bay will now be charged with guiding the company toward profitability in its ongoing battle with an ascendent Spotify.
Bay is set to replace Drew Larner, who now moves into the vice chairman position after announcing his plans to step down earlier this year. Larner told Bloomberg News in June that the next person to fill his position would be charged with taking Rdio to the next level. "The next stage of the company is about building an enormous user and subscription base, and there are people out there better at that than I am," he said at the time.
Rdio, for its part, seems confident in its business and the new hire. Bay will now oversee the company as it builds on the free music deal it brokered with Cumulus Media in September as a means of building its subscriber base, along with the $100 million worth of content and services it received to help it better compete. And while Rdio has never given specific numbers for its service, it has stated that 90 percent of its users pay $9.99 a month for streaming privileges.
Can Bay take Rdio to the next level?
We don't know yet if Bay will be up to the task of turning Rdio around and increasing its user base — if only because the streaming music business has become increasingly difficult for all but the largest players. Pandora weathered a similar executive shakeup earlier this fall, and has yet to see profits. Rhapsody was also forced to pare down its leadership. And Turntable.fm is dead. Meanwhile, Spotify this morning announced the Spotify for Artists tool to further engage musicians, and is currently targeting 40 million subscribers. And although usage reports on iTunes Radio and Google Play Music have yet to be released, both Apple and Google have the wherewithal to compete with all of the above with little regard to profits. That's not a luxury that Bay, or Rdio, is likely to have.