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.

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  1. I have really enjoyed Spotify. I have used Rhapsody, Napster and MOG over the past few years. I stuck with Rhapsody since I could download songs to my Android and play them offline. Rhapsody also worked on my ARCHOS 5 250GB device. Spotify works on both devices. Spotify is really quick, too, but the library is weird.

    So, is the only way to be friends on Spotify through FB?

  2. Yup, I think Spotify is smart enough to automatically find new FB friends who use it. Just accepted your request 🙂

    I liked downloading songs to my Android phone with Rdio too, but ultimately realized I just don’t listen to music on the go that much. On the bus I read, and on most car trips I pass the time with podcasts. So I scaled my subscription back to the desktop-only version.

  3. Agree on the social part of spotify though they don’t make it easy to find others outside of facebook.

    Unfortunately I’ve had bad experiences with losing the library in the spotify app. And had the same issue with bands or albums missing on spotify as rdio, more so it seemed when trying to add things I discovered on Rdio.

    Sticking with Rdio for now. I find the recommendations and other discovery parts slightly better than spotify which tends to be external apps built on the API. We’ll see how they evolve in the future.

  4. I have tried both and find that RDIO is far superior. I am annoyed by FB friends who post what song they listen to on Spotify. The interface is abysmal on Spotify.

    On RDIO (and perhaps you can do this on Spotify, but I have not been able to do so) I get musical infulences from people who are not just my FB friends. (Although the music lovers who are my FB friends are on RDIO…) I find an artist or song I like and look for playlists with that song on it. I find playlists made by people I DON”T KNOW and listen, and get exposed to new music that way. Wow, what a great playlist or even just one new song that I then start another trail for…
    It has been a lot of fun and good to explore.