I explored the situation with my personal music library, discovering how much consumer-creep had set in. Finding myself buying album after album after album, I decided to ditch the hundreds of CDs and rethink my music process. The conclusion landed me on a two-headed music library monster. I buy my most favorite albums on vinyl, and the bulk of my listening comes from my digital Rdio subscription.
I chose Rdio over Spotify for a myriad of reasons, some of which are simply personal preference (I prefer a blue color scheme over a green one, for example). It is much more convenient for Giles and I to have one “family plan” with Rdio instead of two separate, separately billed accounts with Spotify. But honestly, the usability of Rdio is miles ahead of Spotify.
Rdio does a good job of having a unified history across platform. If I listen to a track at work tomorrow, I can see it in my history at home, on my mobile, etc. On Spotify, the software would maintain a local history, meaning that what I listened to at work was only available in my history at work. So if I wanted to remember that song that played this morning I couldn’t find out until tomorrow.
Perhaps the most frustrating feature of Spotify was the home tab, the one Spotify named “Discover.” This screenshot from the Evolver.fm blog shows you the basic Discover tab.
What’s wrong with it? Very, very little music content. Nearly half of the visual real estate is consumed with suggesting the new Kendrick Lamar album, an artist the sample listener is already familiar with from previous listening. The rest? A concert advertisement (bottom left), a friend’s album recommendation, another album suggestion, and the song you are currently playing. The “discover” tab has very, very little to discover, it seems. In my own experience using Spotify I found it to be a primary advertising space for Katy Perry, an artist I don’t listen to or enjoy.
Now contrast this to Rdio. Rather than one Discover tab, Rdio has created several browsing spaces.
Heavy Rotation: “Popular albums that we think you will like based on who you follow and what you listen to.”
Recent Activity: “Your network’s activity stream, including music reviews and playlist updates.”
Top Charts: “The most popular albums and playlists on Rdio.”
New Releases: “Browse hundreds of new albums, every week.”
Recommendations: based upon albums and artists you have listened to.
The visual real estate is more effectively used in Rdio, recommending many albums instead of 2-3. It also gives me control to decide what, exactly, I’m interested in. If I care about what my friends are listening to I can choose Heavy Rotation or Recent Activity, but if I care about brand new albums or current hits I have other options.
The beauty with Rdio, and the primary reason I chose the service over Spotify, is that it is not trying to shove the Top 40 hits down my throat. I could swear that Spotify was trying to make me listen to Katy Perry, while Rdio only mentions her in the New Releases segment when appropriate. In the end, Rdio seems concerned about giving me my own customized music listening and enjoying experience whereas Spotify seemed dead set on making me listen to whatever I could hear on commercial radio. Frankly, I don’t listen to commercial radio for a reason, and I don’t want my subscription streaming service to duplicate it. In the end, Rdio is exactly what I want in a music streaming service.
Now I’m curious. If you’re paying for a streaming service, what are you using and why?