Rara on being the 'cheap and easy' music service

Rara: 'We literally had grandmothers test the service'
Rara - OAP-friendly

With Spotify, Deezer, Boinc, 7Digital, We7, Last.fm, Mixcloud, Soundcloud, BBM Music, Music Unlimited and a host of other digital music services around at the moment, you'd be forgiven for questioning why the folk behind Omnifone have bothered pumping time and cash into Rara.com, yet another music streaming service.

But Rara isn't bothered about going after those already using Spotify and co – it's more interested in "your grandmother" and the other 80 per cent of people its research found aren't using streaming services at present.

"Rara.com has been in development for over 18 months and during that time we've put a lot of work into making it unbelievably easy to use. We've literally had grandmothers in the room using it," said Rob Lewis, founder of Rara, at the company's launch event this morning.

Apparently other "unnamed" music services are too spreadsheet-like for your Gran, whereas Rara's pretty pictures and cheesy Disney-esque backdrop are right up her street.

Grans and spreadsheets don't mix

The company isn't shy about its ambitions for guiding the mass market into the music streaming fold.

Launching today in the UK, USA, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and Spain (among others), Rara.com is chasing a global audience, with the ambitious intention of entering 40 countries, all with localised catalogues, editorial content and customer support, by the end of 2012.

Following today's launch, there'll be major money pumped into advertising, described by Lewis as being "on a huge scale" both online and off.

What's more, the world's biggest PC vendor, HP, will be pre-loading Rara as the default music player on all its devices shipped in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2012, with more consumer electronics partnerships to be announced soon (most likely at CES 2012).

In fact, there's quite a bit more news to come from Rara at CES – TechRadar asked Lewis when we could expect to see Rara on wireless speakers and the like, and he told us, "We'll have news on that in Q1 at CES. Our goal is to let users access music on any device they have, so we've already announced that we'll be coming to Blu-ray [players] and will announce a raft of devices over the next few months. Obviously everyone wants to talk to us because we're truly global."

Sonos, which recently opened up its APIs to allow music services build their own integration with the hardware, seems the most likely candidate on the speaker front.

App-ly within

Although it launches today with an Android app in tow, Rara will be coming to iOS and Windows Phone in the near future, too. Or, as Lewis put it to TechRadar, "the very near future" – which we suspect means the apps are currently going through the approval process.

If you're unfazed by the simplistic approach of the new service and still keen to give it a go, it may reassure you to know that the tracks streamed are eAAC+ which use relatively low data and memory but still offer high audio quality.

And depending on the device you're using, you're looking at a bitrate of somewhere between 48 and 72 bps.


It's clear that Rara has pumped a lot of time and money into creating this service and isn't prepared to be one of the services that will inevitably fall by the wayside.

But will Rara succeed in its quest to get the mass market of tech-phobics streaming and playlisting like pros? Or will it simply do half of Spotify et al's education job for them?

It's interesting times in the music streaming sector. Spotify's off to a solid start, Deezer has the phone network tie-ins and 7Digital has myriad tech partnerships to fall back on – but we wouldn't be surprised to see he who spends the most money win.

And it sounds like Rara has that side of things sewn up.

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.