MOG, Rhapsody, Spotify, Rdio and others that put a world of music at your fingertips - faster, easier, and more enjoyably than hunting for albums to pirate and at a price point low enough that the rational decision is now to pay for access to music. The only question is, who offers the best experience to pay for?The struggle between legal and illegal music online is over. Legal music has won. The major music labels have struck deals with ad and subscription supported streaming music services like
I pay $10 each month for a subscription to Rdio, a web and mobile streaming service backed by the founders of Skype (among others). I've been very happy with it except for one big feature it was missing: recommendations. Today Rdio has launched a new version of its iPhone app and recommendations have finally arrived. Screenshots and some comparison between this and competing services below.
How good are Rdio's recommendations? I'm not sure yet. The company says recommendation is "at the heart of its service and is a core competency of the company." That's good, we'll see how it works out for users. Now that music is cheap and almost everyone has access to the same libraries of music though, it's things like quality of recommendation experience, discovery generally, artist information and music sharing that will be the primary points of contention.
That's not 100% true yet, there are still smaller labels that not everyone has cut deals with. Spotify, for example, has only 1 album by Arcade Fire. Rdio has 10. Spotify has 5 albums by Gillian Welch - Rdio has a zero. (Come on people, get it together, please!)
Rdio's recommendations look pretty good, especially after I hit refresh a few times. I like the new releases from this week, last week and two weeks ago, though hopefully those are vetted at least a little bit. Top albums and playlists are another nice discovery option. Screenshots of all of this are below.
Rdio has said in the past that its primary differentiation in a crowded market is the social newsfeed of music suggestions based on your friends' activities. I've found that utterly unhelpful though. I'll keep trying, but I like the app even without using that.
Right now I use Rdio to roll around town listening to music and through the Sonos wireless speaker system that company sent me to test. (How is it? The UX makes me jump up and down and clap, but I wish I could use Rdio's own app through Sonos and my audio engineer buddy says the software had better be worth $400 because the speaker isn't.)
Somebody's probably going to solve all my music problems at once soon. Maybe it will be Rdio. I sure look forward to seeing all these services chase my $10 per month by competing on features, catalog and user experience!
Check out these screenshots below. They sure look different from the previous version of the app - and even more different from the first leaked screenshots of this app that ReadWriteWeb posted before it launched in November.