in Ramblings, Reviews, Tech

Spotify vs. Rdio

Now that Spotify finally launched in the US I’m happy to recommend it to people. (I admit I’ll miss the British ads – it was somehow charming to hear all the pleasantly accented shills for products I’d never heard of and cannot buy.)

Sarah gave an excellent overview of the pros & cons of Spotify and Rdio. I won’t bother reinventing the wheel here, but do want to toss my $.02 into consideration.

I like Rdio a lot, especially now that they have useful desktop apps which respond to keyboard controls. I love the potential of it’s social features, recommending music back and forth among friends. But social on Rdio has turned out to be a largely unfulfilled fantasy for me – almost nobody I know uses it. I think I have two friends on the service, and only one is actively using it.

Here’s where Spotify’s free version comes into play. Sure, it’s only 10 hours per month of music. But that’s 10 hours per month more than my friends are using Rdio, and a real chance to send songs back and forth. I already have 21 friends there, most of whom seem to be active users. So Spotify wins the network effect for me. Which is a shame, because I think Rdio’s overall interface is much better. I find it astonishing that Spotify doesn’t have a better way to organize a collection of albums.

Another strike against Rdio is their recent removal of music. Laura Marling and Placebo, two of the bands I’ve listened to most on the service, suddenly had much of their catalog pulled with no explanation. Placebo has been gone for months, and Laura Marling for weeks. I’m assuming a rights issue is involved somewhere along the line, but ultimately I dont’ care – I just want to listen to the music I subscribed to. Right now Spotify still has Laura Marling’s catalog intact, and some of Placebo’s songs.

Summary: I can boil it down to a struggle of Rdio’s interface vs Spotify’s selection and social features. While I’d like to say that UI is important, ultimately the catalog available to me is even more important. The music is what I’m paying for, after all. I’ve cancelled Rdio and will give Spotify a turn this month. I’m not entirely sold on it long term, but it deserves a shot.