Over the last week or so I’ve been testing our Rdio, motivated by my frustration at the way Spotify handles albums, but also because recent Spotify updates have got to me. Too much focus on the social features and not enough on the core experience - Daniel Ek is evidently a great business man but I have no interest in his music taste. Nor that of Justin Beiber or Katy Perry, seriously what is going on with those recommendations?
So it feels likely that I’ll make the permanent switch in the coming week - the free unlimited trial runs out - and while I’m pained to switch from a British to US product as it feels like I’m breaking some unwritten rules, the fact is Rdio is a better fit for me - here’s why.
This is the killer feature. No hassle managing hundreds of playlists to keep track of your favourite albums just a never ending collection of music you can add too as often as you like. I’ve already gone through my entire collection of CDs and all the stuff I had on Spotify and added them in. It’s a hell of a lot easier to browse and looks great as you scan through all the album art. Plus you can search, order and filter within it.
Sync to mobile
Evidence of how Spotify has been over engineered in this regard. Rather than having a download button, and also an “un-download” button, Rdio has ‘Send to Mobile.’ One click regardless of what device you’re currently using and it will queue the album, track or playlist to be downloaded for offline access on your phone. Simple and incredibly useful.
Remote control from any device
I’m running Rdio on my Nexus 4, iPad and my MacBook Air. When its running on one, one of the others can control the queue. This is really handy at home as I typically have one of the devices wired into my HiFi meaning I can control the music from anywhere in the flat without the need for Airport Express or some other wireless routing device.
Spotify’s design is too dense. Evidently an excellent technical feat, particularly the new web based client which is unbelievably fast, but visually cluttered in my opinion. I’m also not a huge fan of the dark colour palette. Looking at greys and black all day isn’t particularly inspiring, it’s oppressive. Rdio’s white and blues are much more calming.
Rdio isn’t perfect, however. In fact there are a few features from Spotify that I’ll miss quite a bit. Particularly the app platform where I’ve got used to reading Pitchfork while listening to the tracks being reviewed or plugging directly into Last.fm for its recommendations. While Rdio offers embedding in the same way Spotify does it’s no where near as commonly used as Spotify’s - first to market? Given you need accounts / apps to play the track users of alternate services are effectively locked out.
But most of all I’ll miss all my friends. Everyone I know still uses Spotify and that means no more inbox, no more quick linking in emails, no more collaborating on playlists. It’s no wonder then I’ve taken to telling everyone I know about my switch. Here’s hoping they join me.
NB: Hugh noted that Spotify product and engineering teams are located in Sweden while the Spotify HQ is in London.