Given Spotify's now limiting free users of its service to just 10 hours per month, stumping up 99p for unlimited streaming suddenly sounds a lot more attractive. Available today in 16 countries, Rara.com has rights to music from Universal; Sony; EMI; Warner and indie labels, adding up to 10 million tracks for streaming -- that's five million less than Spotify, fact-fans.
The Omnifone-powered service may come pre-installed on HP laptops, but don't let that put you off -- at least, not for the first three months, when Rara will only cost 99p per month. Thereafter, it will match Spotify's costs at £4.99 per month for web browser-streaming, and £9.99 per month for browser and mobile-streaming. (Though if you want to go for the mobile streaming from the get-go, it'll cost just £1.99 for the first three months, all up.)
Given the British service is going head-to-head with Spotify on price, and offering much the same level of features (even editorially-curated music content, with an "associate editor" in the form of Imogen Heap), it'll very much boil down to user experience. As that's one of Spotify's weaker points, Rara.com has a real opportunity to nudge the Swedes aside here. Based on a brief play with Rara, I think the service acts as a great music-discovery tool, and should appeal to people who don't necessarily like (or know how to) compile playlists that "look like Excel spreadsheets," as founder Rob Lewis says.
Available in 16 countries today (the UK, US, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and Spotify's home-turf of Sweden), and joined by Canada and Mexico soon-ish, the app can be downloaded on Android today, with iOS and Windows Phone 7 supported at some point soon.
If you'd like to test out Rara.com and see for yourself if it's better-not-shitter or shitter-not-better than Spotify and the rest, leave a comment on this post below, and the first 20 people will be sent invitations to join the service for six months' free-streaming. Otherwise, go about your business listening to your 120GB iTunes collection, and let one more music-streaming wave wash right over you. [Rara.com]