Spotify has been getting a lot of press lately after their huge US release this month. All the good press boils down to one of two things: 1) if you’re a consumer, music streaming is awesome; and 2) if you’re an artist, getting paid by Spotify is a good thing. Both very, very good things.
However, I’m pickier than that. I’ve played with Grooveshark. I’ve been using Pandora forever. I’m a recent Last.fm convert, but I dig that too. I need something that will really break my 10-year-old iTunes addiction. Something different, big, dramatic. And Spotify… ain’t it.
Spotify, so far as I can tell, is just iTunes with streaming. Oh, and without smart playlists. And without being able to easily sync to my phone. Or my iPad. Did I mention it doesn’t have smart playlists?
Okay, it’s got Facebook integration. But I’m not a huge Facebook fan. And yes, it has a mobile app, but I can’t use it because it takes literally at least FORTY-FIVE SECONDS to load on my iPhone 3G. Let’s say I jump in the truck, want to turn on some tunes, and drive home from work. FORTY-FIVE to SIXTY SECONDS of just Spotify loading on my phone… that’s not cutting it.
But I’ve been digging Rdio. I started using it about six months ago at the recommendation of Eli over at Hyperbolium. It’s an amazingly well-designed, real-life web application, not just a weak desktop app that streams music. It is very social. When I’m listening to an album, I can see other folks who’ve reviewed it or listened to it recently. (I’ve actually seen friends on there a lot.) I can create playlists that you, anyone, and everyone can listen to, not just my friends like on Spotify. Even better — I can create collaborative playlists with my friends. We can basically create a mix tape together, giving tracks back and forth.
And the mobile experience? Fantastic. I can sync any music that I want to my phone, so I can listen to it without needing web access. I hear I can do that on the Spotify app too, if it would ever load on my phone.
Rdio has Pandora-like and Last.fm-like “radio stations” where you can listen to songs similar to an artist. Spotify has this feature in Europe, but for some arcane licensing reason doesn’t support it in America. I think this is a major oversight, and one of the best ways to use Rdio. One extra feature that is unique to Rdio — I’m able to create a “radio station” that plays only a specific artist. I haven’t seen this feature anywhere else. It’s basically shuffle of an entire artist’s catalog.
So what’s the drawback? Rdio only has about 2/3 of the music that Spotify has. Not good. So until Spotify buys Rdio for it’s vastly superior customer-experience and mobile tech or else Rdio catches up on the music licensing front, I’m subscribed to both systems. However, at $10 per system per month, that’s still not bad. Far less than I usually spend on CDs. I’ve pretty much relegated my iTunes to listening to old music or crazy off-the-radar new stuff that neither system has. Everything else I’m listening to Rdio or falling back to Spotify.
Bottom line? Spotify is good… streaming is good, but Rdio is a better music discovery experience that blends the best features of all of them — the simple streaming of Spotify or Grooveshark, radio-stations from Pandora, and automatic scrobbling access to Last.fm. In short — I want Rdio to win. Or at least, I hope Spotify buys Rdio, integrates their tech and music libraries, and then we all win.
Note: Originally published over at ye olde Hickory Wind.