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Posted on 13 July 2011

So it sounds like Spotify is coming to the United States. If you are neither a music geek nor a tech geek, you may not know what this is. Basically, it’s an on-demand music streaming service– think Netflix for music.

I have no idea if Spotify’s American availability will translate to Canada. If, Pandora, and are any indication, then the answer is no-such luck ( IS available in Canada, but for a price– America is free– and there is no mobile streaming app).

So what to do if you’re still locked out? What I do. Use Rdio.

Shorthand, Rdio is exactly what I just said Spotify is– Netflix for music. And that means on-demand music listening, for a monthly fee. About $4 if you just want to use it on your computers, $10 if you want it on your cellphone (including the ability to store music there for offline listening). And I love it. It is the only paid app I’ve ever used (I’m frugal), and it’s worth every penny.

They have their own about to sell you on the pricing, so I’m just going to distill it into the things that make it worthwhile for me.

1. Tuesday is awesome.

Tuesday is the day that new albums come out. Back before the internet, it was the day you would go to the record store to see what had come in. Before Rdio, it was the day I scoured reviews to see what I should look into, maybe sampling some songs. After Rdio, it’s the day I go to Rdio’s blog, see what’s new, and hit a couple of buttons to sync albums I want to listen to to my phone. The whole process takes a couple of minutes– I do it with breakfast, and listen on my way to work. I love it.

2. They’re pretty good curators.

Smartly, Rdio the company acts less as a service and more as music-loving curators. Through their aforementioned blog plus Facebook and Twitter streams, they highlight artists and labels they have available, even putting together playlists that you can listen to to get an idea of what things are like. And they actually have pretty good taste.

3. Deep catalogue.

No service has everything, but Rdio is pretty good. There’s a couple of big names (the Beatles) and really small ones (Apollo Ghosts) that they don’t have that I wish they did, but it’s rare I’m not able to listen to a full song or album using Rdio. And they are constantly adding stuff, new and old, to their service. I am a voracious listener of many, many genres and I rarely come up short when using Rdio.

4. Nice interface.

It counts. It’s easy to navigate, intuitive to use, and the focus on album art in design is a good plus.

5. It’s made me listen to albums again.

Last year I mentioned that the internet had successfully altered my lsitening patterns away from albums and into singles. This is largely because I was using things like, the Hype Machine, CBC Radio 3, and Soundcloud for most of my work day. And these are all geared towards single songs. Rdio is like those services in that it’s ubiquitous, portable, and easy to use, but the big difference is that it’s geared towards albums. And this year I find myself listening to more and more albums.

6. I like paying for music, but the old model is broken.

As a corollary to that last point, another part of the reason I wasn’t listening to albums is because I didn’t want to buy an album without hearing all the songs, but didn’t want to illegally download albums just to decide if I wanted to buy the album. Rdio solves that. I pay a monthly fee that is distributed by Rdio to those who pay to get the music made. In return, I get to rent albums. If I really like an album, I can buy it (including through Rdio). If I find myself going back to an artist again and again on Rdio, I purchase their product– knowing full well that I’m going to listen to it again and again.

There’s lots of other nice things about Rdio like playlists, scrobbling, etc but I’ll let you find them on your own. I just wanted to share some of the reasons I love it so hopefully people take a look at it alongside Spotify (which has much more media hype surrounding it) before making a decision.

PS. There’s a free trial of Rdio available, too– so you can check it out in full before deciding to buy. Highly recommended.


Filed under: music

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