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.
Last.fm Scrobbling. As I’m fast approaching 60,000 scrobbles, this is paramount in my music consumption. I realize no one really uses Last.fm anymore, but as long as the service is around I’m deeply invested in the stats. I know Spotify offers Last.fm 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, Last.fm 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.