Goodbye Rdio, thanks for the memories

Sad to see this news about Rdio, the music streaming service that I’ve been using for years:

Rdio is shutting down and Pandora is buying up the scraps


I’m especially sad because the truth is that I’ve been flirting with other music services over the years, and there are some key features that kept me coming back to Rdio. Now that it’s going away, I’m going to have to find another service that crosses off the most checkmarks when being compared to Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music, Amazon Prime and Microsoft’s Groove Music:

Remote Control Mode.  This has been the biggest differentiater between Rdio and other music services.  If you were running Rdio from one device (such as your computer or tablet), you could open the app on another device (like your phone) and remotely control all of the music.  This has been invaluable in many parties and game nights where I didn’t want to be tethered to the speakers all night.  I think Spotify may do something similar, but no services has been as elegant for me.

Family Plan Pricing.  If memory serves, Rdio was the first ones to feature this, and my family quickly took advantage of this, serving three accounts with one low payment. The other services have followed suit, but hats off to Rdio’s innovation in this area. Scrobbling.  As I’m fast approaching 60,000 scrobbles, this is paramount in my music consumption. I realize no one really uses anymore, but as long as the service is around I’m deeply invested in the stats.  I know Spotify offers integration, but I’m not sure if any other other major providers offer this (Google does through a hack).

Platform-Agnostic Apps. This is the deal-breaker. Rdio was ubiquitous across the internet. They came out the gate with the browser UI, then expanded to mobile apps, have a Windows 10 presence and even a Roku app.  Spotify is probably the most prominent in this space, but their browser-based UI didn’t compare to Rdio.  To make matters more frustrating, platform-based music systems (Apple, Google, Microsoft Groove and even Amazon) are more interested in using music to propagate their own platforms.

Playlist Lock-In. This is going to be the biggest frustration. I have dozens of playlists (not to mention my “collection”) within Rdio and now I’m going to be challenged to import that into another platform – although Soundiiz looks promising.

I’ve tried most of the major services and have a pretty good sense of the benefits and shortcomings in each

Apple Music: Loved Beats 1, but that was about it. While the selection is great, the interface is just awful. The deal-breaker is that in order to use it on PC you have to go through the bloated hog that’s iTunes.  The Android app is in an early (and ugly) beta, and it’s nowhere to be found on any TV platforms.  No remote control. I couldn’t cancel my free trial fast enough.

Microsoft Groove Music: Good interface and ubiquitous. The fact that it’s on Xbox makes it appealing as well – however the lack of Scrobbling and no family plan won’t let me take it seriously. I let the free trial lapse. No remote control.

Google Music/YouTube Red: This one is most murky, given the recent Youtube Red development.  On face value it looks like a great deal (ad-free YouTube along with Google Music Streaming, not to mention that you can upload 50,000 of your own songs to supplement the service).  However it’s not clear to me how their family plan works with YouTube Red, and you can’t Scrobble through the mobile apps. No remote control. I’m currently in the YouTube Red free trial, but will likely cancel.

Amazon Prime: As a Prime customer this has been a nice perk, but in no way will this be replacing Rdio.  The features just aren’t there.

Spotify: The most serious contender. They offer the platform ubiquity, the family plan pricing, Scrobbling, (I think) a remote control. The interface is just so ugly.

So there we have it. Right now it really comes down to Spotify vs. Google Music, with a current edge to Spotify.  Writing all of this makes me really miss Rdio.  RIP to a wonderful music service.

Rdio and getting older

There used to be a time where I would love change and bleeding edge.  When Microsoft or Adobe (or Macromedia for that matter) would release beta software, I was all over it.  I’ve burned a lot of midnight oil playing around with buggy software that wasn’t ready for public consumption.  New things used to excited me, change used to excite me – not so much anymore.  I’m not sure what happened in the course of time: maybe I have less time to play with new things, or maybe my work-stream can’t be disrupted by bleeding edge, maybe I’ve reached a point in my developer career that I’m intolerant of half-baked solutions. Somehow I’ve become adverse to new things.

My latest intolerance: Rdio’s pivot.

I get that in the large crowd of streaming music providers, everyone’s trying to do something to stand out.  I understand that in this cut-throat music industry streaming providers are innovating and that change is hard.  However what bugs the hell out of me is when companies leave behind the people that got them where they are.  It happened to Digg, and Foursquare. I’m wondering if it’s happening to Rdio.

I can appreciate that they want their “Stations” feature to become front and center, and the part of me who loves music discovery appreciates that.  That said, Rdio’s screwed the bread and butter that loyal customers use everyday have been cast aside: their Playlists and Collections interfaces.

Now Collections have become “Favorites”.  Somehow during the process, my “unavailable” songs are front and center, and there’s no easy way to remove them or relink them.


The problem is that when it matched with my library it would match the song with a version on some “Top 100” compilation, or a soundtrack that’s no longer available – never mind that the album version is alive and well in their library.  If I’m lucky enough I can click into the library and unlink the song 6 clicks later, but for most of these I just get “Page not found”, so I’m stuck. I found that I can remove them in the Android app, but again it takes at least three taps for each song, with no way to do it in bulk.

Playlists – a feature I’ve made full use of – has taken a step back as well.  You used to be able to scroll through them in the navigation bar, but now in the name of simplicity they’re moved a layer deeper, taking away your ability to drag & drop a song directly into that playlist.

Lastly one of my favorite features is now deeply buried: the ability to see what your friends are currently listening to.  It used to be available on the main interface as the “People” tab, now it’s embedded and more of a snapshot.

Maybe someone at Rdio is on to something, maybe they’ve found the killer feature that is going to drive droves of new people to shell out money for Rdio subscriptions. Hopefully they’re right, because all it’s doing is making many of their longtime fans reconsider their patronage… or maybe I’m just getting older and change is passing me by.