The State of Digital Music: The Rdio Conversations

The State of Digital Music · This playlist was started to share a blog essay I’d written about the state of digital music which highlighted Rdio and the future (http://wp.me/p17GYi-bM). The discussion here has become something far more interesting thanks to the Rdiophiles. (Apologies for bad formatting…a lot was lost in the copy/paste and in the the pagination. Could not be helped) Join this conversation on Rdio here ›

This page was pasted in on 11/20/2012

Jason Paul
nice find @David! I wrote a reply on the article and I’ll post it here too:

Isn’t the answer to this riddle already in this article?

“Netflix and SiriusXM have well over 20 million paying subscribers in the US. Spotify has something like three million…worldwide.”

I’m assuming Netflix is a sustainable business model. It’s also been around for over a decade (albeit not in streaming form). If Spotify or Rdio or Pandora each had something like 10 million subscribers…wouldn’t artists be getting paid?

Also, if streaming is so bad…why are nearly all major label releases available on them? I think the dirty secret is that big labels are getting paid and small indies simply aren’t. But this is more due to the realities of scale.

5 hours ago
David Crompton
I actually haven’t read this yet but it but filing it here as a reminder to read as much as a share. http://stereogum.com/1204361/deconstructing-pandora-spotify-piracy-and-getting-…

1 day ago
Jason Paul
@Rob, I think you bring up a pretty darned interesting point. If digital streaming was really such a money pit why are most major label artists available on them? The answer has to be that streaming is indeed paying out—and handsomely. It seems that a lot of the counter argument against streaming is coming more from independent artists who appear to be seeing even less money than they used to. We’ve gotten to see a lot of hard numbers from indie artists. It would be extremely interesting if we could see a streaming earnings spreadsheet from a popular major-label artist.

1 day ago
Rob Taylor
Yeah, I’m guessing that anyone paying for the “premium” streaming service pays out about a cent/stream.

It seems like the services with the highest per-stream cost also have the lowest amount of free-trial users. For instance, Rhapsody doesn’t give people the ability to create a free account. You get a 7-day free trial, that’s it. Also, they don’t have a web-only option; everyone pays 10/month.

So from what I can tell, it’s the freeloaders on spotify who are making it seem like streaming pays out a pittance per stream. And it’s making labels pull out of EVERY streaming service, instead of just spotify, which is what they should be doing. For instance, Adele’s album used to not be on Spotify because she only wanted it available to paying users. Spotify didn’t want to break up their catalog based on sub tiers, though, so “21” wasn’t on Spotify for a while. I think it’s there now, though, Spotify just has too many users for a lady like Adele to ignore; I bet she makes a ton of money from Spotify.

I think Spotify has a much more advantageous algorithm for the major labels and big bands, too. For instance, on the front page of Spotify, we still see albums like “Some Nights” by FUN, the Lumineers, and Mumford & Sons’ new album advertised. Besides Mumford & Sons, these albums are all more than a few months old. Scroll down and you finally find the new releases, which Spotify gives you about 8 to look at, depending on how big your screen is.

4 days ago
Jason Paul
I don’t think CD Baby would care about something like that. Rdio…possibly would. It’s almost too irresistible of an experiment though. I mean, how robust is the streaming infrastructure? I’m guessing not very. I just looped one track of my own releases all night. At least on Rdio the plays actually register. I quadrupled the plays for that album just by leaving one song on loop. If that’s all it takes the system is not very robust and could possibly use a jolt experiment like this to prepare for a streaming world.
The other part of the hypothesis of course is just that streaming does indeed pay if you can get the scale high enough. I won’t know that for months when CD Baby releases the next quarter’s play info (only once a quarter unfortunately, not instantaneous).

4 days ago
PDH Loves Wine, Women & Song
Jason, I think you might want to check your agreements with CD Baby before you do that. I would expect them to have a clause that allows them to terminate everything if there is any evidence of people trying to game the system in any way… ?

5 days ago
Jason Paul
I could, however, do the obvious as a beta test. I’ll loop one of my tracks on my computer all night and next quarter I’ll check to see if I get a spike in returns on CD Baby. I suspect they may pay out less for repeat listens. That could explain the weird streaming payment fluctuations.

5 days ago
Jason Paul
I’d feel a little weird using myself as a guinea pig in something like this. It would probably be more fun if everyone involved has a stake in it. This seems to echo conversations I was having with Rdiophiles over a year ago. I suppose I thought that streaming would be the definitive way music consumed and the things we’d have to worry about would be labels gaming the system by setting their albums on loop to increase play tallies. I suppose we’re quite far from worrying about that.

5 days ago
Matt L
Sounds like a decent enough plan. I used to play a pretty decent white-boy beat box in my day…

Or on second thought, we could just pick one of your tracks to play the hell out of and you can keep the money. Just post the screenshots to show our efforts were fruitful.

5 days ago
Jason Paul
Those numbers are based on what already is (in a best case scenario). From those screen shots you can see that I’m seeing nearly 1 penny a stream (sometimes). I ‘think’ 1 million streams of 1 track translates to $10k in the artists pocket. That’s money the artist gets after the distributor and streaming service. But there’s no way to really know unless it’s proven.

Here’s a kernel of an idea. Let’s go “Redd Foxx” on this. What if everyone on this thread contributes to a ‘State of Digital Music’ single. It needn’t be good (although good is nice…but remember Redd Foxx!). We could start a CD Baby acct to release the track. Keep in mind it takes CD Baby a few months to get a track onto Rdio unfortunately. But I can put pressure on them to try and get it on faster. Then the larger community part here is that all of us spin the hell out of that track for 1 month. We try and get everyone who’s following us on Rdio to spin that track for the sake of the experiment. We can also go more viral and get it on Spotify as well, it may have a chance at getting more notice. After a month we stop the experiment. We see how well we did. We can pledge that the money for the track go to some kind of music artist charity (are there any out there?). It could be an interesting proof of concept to see if there’s any money in streaming or if there simply isn’t.

5 days ago
Matt L
I am not sure your numbers scale to anything nearing profitability for the Rdio and Spotify’s of the world. If they had to pay out that sort of money, I’m thinking they’d be much more in the red than they are now. So that means the consumers make up for that in their subscription cost.

How much more would the masses be willing to pay? You and I (and most people around these parts) are probably exceptions because we are addicted already. I’d probably pay $30/month for this service just for myself if I could get absolutely EVERYTHING out there. But I’m not so sure that everyone else is there yet.

5 days ago
Jason Paul
I can see that. But the fuzzy part here is the tracking of streams. For the sake of a simple metric, let’s say every stream is worth 1 penny. If streaming was the definitive consumption platform, and 1 song received 1 million streams in one month (which I think is not an unreasonable number for a popular artist) that one song would generate $10,000 directly to the artist. They probably have an album of around 10 songs. So that’s $100k of pure artist money for an album that gets streamed 1 million times in that month. What’s lost here is what that stream was really worth. How much did the streaming platform keep? How much did the distributor keep? And of course if you have a label…it seems like they are eating into that 1 penny the artist is supposed to get.

Is my math off by a digit? It seems to me that even where we are now with streaming, there is economic feasibility here for popular career artists.

5 days ago
Matt L
I know you are normally pretty optimistic about the future of streaming, but Damon’s article seems to say it how it is. This system is broken for everyone except for the consumers. Reminds me of before the bubble burst and reality set in for everyone.

5 days ago
Jason Paul
Good observation @Matt L. I just went back and added another Spotify screen shot from April. It’s particularly interesting because it shows that they used to pay out nearly 1 penny per track. Except for one mysterious price drop in the middle??? I’m happy to bombard CD Baby with questions so feel free to queue them up. They are actually pretty good about replying via email

My guess is that streaming services may not reward the entire streaming fee if it’s only a partial listen??

5 days ago
Matt L
Interesting screenshots, Jason! I am a little confused as to why the Rdio payout varies from track to track though.

5 days ago
Jason Paul
I went ahead and took screen shots of my latest CD Baby returns for Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody. I’m doing better than Galaxy 500 on a per track basis (by quite a bit!). The takeaway here is that Spotify pays the worst, Rdio is somewhere in the middle and Rhapsody gives nearly 1penny per stream. http://www.jasonpaul.net/how-much-my-music-earns-for-digital-streams/

5 days ago
Jason Paul
Thanks Dave and Rob Weychert (he posted it here too but it never showed up for some reason).

It unfortunately confirms that the current digital streaming model is poisoned. I think it can/should be fixed. We’re talking about a model that consumers love. There’s extraordinary amounts of capital passing through it…yet it’s main stock and trade—Music—is valued immorally low. Perhaps it’s incorrect to rope in Rdio with the rest of them. Maybe they have a more fair model for artists. What I fear is that if this doesn’t get fixed the whole streaming paradigm will collapse on itself before it even gets started. That doesn’t add up to me though. I pay $18/mo for music on Rdio (household). I pay a lot less on Netflix but I don’t really hear much about unfairness in the video streaming model. Granted video content has other opportunities to make money when it’s first released, so maybe the pennies are the same except that the content makers have already made their money.

But…I think if we reconfigured the math there would be plenty of money to go around for those artists that deserve it. Perhaps this is a worthwhile startup venture. Figuring out a way for artists to actually make money in this new music terrain. Most people who try streaming love it. And many put good money down to subscribe. Why isn’t this working?

5 days ago
David Crompton
Also interesting when comparing to the article that you just posted from Techcrunch…

5 days ago
David Crompton
Posted this on your FB mostly because we still can’t post on mobile 🙁 and I didn’t want to forget.
Very interesting article by Damon Krukowski [Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi] about the current bottom line of streaming from the musicians’ end.
http://m.pitchfork.com/features/articles/8993-the-cloud/

7 days ago
Jason Paul
Post about how much big labels invest on big pop stars: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/121112major
I don’t have much of an opinion, but some interesting number graphics here.

1 week ago
Jason Paul
It appears Spotify is making money: http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/10/spotify-is-having-a-good-2012-revenues-could-r…

3 weeks ago
Jason Paul
A little more about the Rdio/Buzzfeed social music partnership from Adage: http://adage.com/article/digital/buzzfeed-partners-rdio-pushes-music-space/2379…

It’s all so interesting. Using music (Rdio) to keep users on a website longer. Cle-ver. This and the billboards have me convinced that Rdio is indeed going to be mainstream soon. Maybe even by the end of the year. I’m starting to see Rdio mentioned in the same breath as Spotify in more articles.

3 weeks ago
Jason Paul
Have you seen this ‘React with a song’ social button feature powered by Rdio on Buzzfeed? http://www.buzzfeed.com/jonsteinberg/social-music-advertising-on-buzzfeed
This is kind of a bizarre social interaction but admittedly quite a bit more nuanced than ‘Like’. I would have never thought of using music in such a way. I wonder if this is a public share tool anyone can install on their site…I can see some blogs really getting into this. Perhaps Rdio will have found it’s shortcut to the mainstream. (another side of me thinks this is pretty tacky though…but I literally found this 5 minutes ago so I don’t really know what to think yet)

4 weeks ago
Lacey Underall
Agree with you guys, totally. In the old days, the labels controlled both your ability to get a record made and your ability to get that record distributed. And probably (via payola or old boys network) your ability to get that record heard.

Nowadays, artists can record, distribute, and publicize their work much easier, which returns control of the artwork back to the artists where it should be. I will always support Taylor Swift or anyone else’s right to do with their recordings what they wish. It doesn’t mean I’ll personally buy the product or agree with the pricing or how they distribute it; that’s my right as a consumer.

But they can do what they want, and I’ll make my own choice. I have never liked the way music buyers need to find heroes and villains. It annoys me to no end when people pirate music and justify it by saying they will go to shows or buy merch. All you are doing is replacing the evil big labels with equally evil 360-contracts and commercializing, live show rip-offs like Live Nation. They get a share of the ticket, a cut of the merch, they own the publishing rights, the performance rights, the venue, they do the promo, they own the radio stations. It’s potentially a way worse monopoly than ever.

Rdio is fantastic for me as a consumer and I’ll continue to support it for that reason. But if it’s not working out for the artists then they can choose something else. Somewhere we’ll find a middle ground where the performers can make a living and I can get my fill of music. But that compromise doesn’t happen unless I honor their right to control their art while also legally supporting what gets me the best and most stuff for free.

4 weeks ago
maudeman ‏
@RX & @JP Streaming and iTunes do happily co-exist already, and I would suspect that our friends at Apple will be streaming a la Rdio and Spotify fairly soon. And probably do a much better job in terms of ease of use, reliability and performance.
Taylor Swift and her management can do whatever they want with her music. She’s pretty young to be so old school, but my only complaint is the exclusive, and while there’s not many left, she and her label are just screwing record stores. Walgreens?
We are not entitled to hear all new music; all the chatter around here about “supporting artisits” should at least include the artist’s marketing preferences. I don’t see this as a label “denying” us, but a label who has decided not to offer.

I’ve got about 812 albums I have yet to listen to, along with many older favortes, so no Taylor isn’t such a big deal.

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
This is a nice fluff article about Rdio that touches on those billboards popping up everywhere http://gigaom.com/2012/10/25/rdio-two-year-launch/

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
I think Billboard wins either way…or at least they win if they create the impression that streaming and iTunes can happily coexist. Even though I’m pro-streaming and I can’t really get down with iTunes I can’t anyone for squeezing as much money from the iTunes tree as possible. The numbers seem to suggest that there’s people who have been happily conditioned to buy from iTunes for the long-term. Those people validate the business model. It unambiguously generates much more money than streaming. I’m not saying this is bad (if iTunes never dies that’s probably good!). But I will say it runs counter to my own instinct/logic on how this whole digital music thing should work in the long-term.

4 weeks ago
MusicRX 🙂
So another huge artist, and possibly label, is jumping on the bandwagon off denying music services their artist’s new releases until they are no longer very new. Taking a cue from the movie industry they say (releasing to Netflix 28 days after DVD release). If this becomes a trend. They even withheld the release from Amazon’s MP3 store and Google Play. What do you guys think of this strategy to pump up iTunes, with a week long exclusive, and CD sales before allowing streaming at music services? http://tiny.cc/billred

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
@geemarcus and anyone who is concerned about CD Baby as relates to Rdio, I’ve created a playlist specifically for that topic. Please share it around and contribute if you can! http://www.rdio.com/people/jasonpaul/playlists/1452233/CD_Baby_and_Rdio/

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
@Lacey I agree with you mostly although you’re definitely advocating a more radical stance than I. In my experience I still haven’t been able to get the quality of music I’m after without investing hundreds/thousands in employing professional engineers. That could be on me as I’m not interested in learning the ropes of great engineering preferring to focus on songwriting and arranging. Totally agree about the music as avocation. Rock and Roll is an amateurs game, always has been. We’ve elevated it to art. But, at the end of the day, anyone who puts a small amount of time in can do it. That’s what we love about it, and greatness comes of it. But the bar of entry is low as it should be.

4 weeks ago
geemarcus
@JP: I have a “CD Baby” gripe I’d add to that playlist.

@LU: agreed.

Without the context of my (potentially radical) beliefs about our messed up economic system the following may not make much sense but I’ll throw it out there anyhow. Ultimately I think people are going to have to take responsibility upon themselves to support artists (not only music) that they appreciate rather than leaving it up to an outdated business model. This won’t be easy since we’ve all been trained to do things in the way we have…but the old methods are falling apart and as a result we may see a further decline in the diversity and abundance of art. I could however argue that the current business model has itself led to a severe decline. My (faint) hope is that eventually more people will realize what has been lost and begin to value art again.

4 weeks ago
Lacey Underall
I feel like what Toth is missing is that music has ALWAYS been an avocation for millions of people. The only difference is that now all of those people can now easily make a record and get it on the net for other people to hear.

So in large part, music costs less because music is cheaper to make. If it used to cost you $200k and 6 weeks to make an album, and now it costs you $100 and a weekend, then how can it not be devalued? And if it only costs $100 and can be done in your spare time then now the world is opened up to a huge number of people who might be quite talented and who enjoy making music but never got the chance before.

It just seems kind of silly to blame musicians for wanting to play for cheap. If you take photos or do pottery as a hobby and someone offered to exhibit your stuff in some fancy gallery, you’d probably be pretty psyched and would happily do it for free. No one would be like “No!!! You’re screwing over professional photographers!” “An honest potter cant’ making a living anymore!”

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
I wonder if there’s a playlist I should start where I can post my frustrations with the CDBaby/Rdio distribution relationship. I do have an EP that is nearing completion. As a test I released an album from an old band I was in. The album was in iTunes and Spotify within a few days. 2 months later and many complaints to CDBaby it’s still nowhere to be found on Rdio. That was kind of a test as to whether I should be using CDBaby for distribution. Because Rdio is my main squeeze and the CDBaby connection appears to be very unreliable I’m thinking of going with a different distributor (AWAL). I’m up for starting a CDBaby artist playlist for gripes if there’s any interest in this topic!

4 weeks ago
Matt L
BTW, what’s the update on new music from you? You got something coming through the CDBaby funnel to Rdio in the future?

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
I definitely think Grizzly Bear should be living comfortably. Success shouldn’t go unrewarded. It’s interesting how artists of other mediums don’t seem to be grappling as deeply with the fundamental issue of getting paid for their work in the digital age. Is it possible that the songwriting form itself is simply no longer sustainable as a business model? Well, I don’t think so, that’s why I keep routing for music streaming to redefine the market. But if music streaming fails there’s nothing left that I can see on the horizon that would make songs a financially legitimate career choice for most musicians.

4 weeks ago
Matt L
Well JP, I think you are a bit more optimistic than me on the issue, but you might be right. I mean its hard to disagree with Doug’s stance that this is how the music industry is. You might as well accept it. But the non-conforming, anti-“The Man” in me says “Hell no” and wants to agree with James Toth.

Why shouldn’t successful artists like Grizzly Bear be living comfortably? Something is broken and if it doesn’t get fixed, how many artists are we going to miss out on that decide to go any other path besides music?

I saw that quote from the dude from Dismemberment Plan too. Those guys were awesome! And I think he pretty much laid it out the way it is. Music listeners are fickle pricks for the most part. You can be putting out awesome stuff and always reinventing yourself, but one day you may find that people are just tired of you being the cool thing. That’s about the time where you start thinking about really reinventing yourself I guess.

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
Admittedly never was a big Pandora fan. But my wife swears by it. I think there’s a place for Pandora. I’m kind of impressed that they’re able to pay out so much to artists. I guess that’s what the advertising model gets you.

4 weeks ago
Rob Taylor
Pandora is trying to get congress to bail out their crappy business model.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57529137-93/pandora-offers-song-and-dance-abou…

Maybe if they aired more than an ad an hour, they could make some money. Also, they paid around $12 million to 5 of their top executives, so I don’t have much pity for Pandora internet radio.

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
I do find myself agreeing with Doug Moore in that article. He had some gems:

“To me, bailing on normal work and dedicating myself to this career arc sounds insanely ill-advised. The better, more sustainable bet seems to be treating music as an avocation, not as a vocation.”

“Who is the new boss that’s exploiting musicians? It seems to me that our answer is the audience. People are downloading music for free instead of paying. Watermarking files won’t stop it. Prosecuting them won’t stop it. Appealing to their moral sensibilities won’t stop it. The numbers have shifted.”

Here’s one from that feature (http://www.vulture.com/2012/09/grizzly-bear-shields.html) from Travis Morrison formerly of Dismemberment Plan:

““You know how some people say, ‘I would really like to make a middle-class living doing the arts; I feel like I deserve that’? Honestly, I never felt that. I never felt like artists deserved a living. I feel like getting a million dollars for my songs is just about the same as getting it from playing a card at 7-Eleven.”

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
Reading something like that always brings me back to the original point of this playlist (because I’m an optimist). If streaming music becomes the standard for music consumption the money begins to flow and accumulate. It seems a little ludicrous that a band like Grizzly Bear seems to barely be able to make ends meet. I also feel like no artist is owed a living to practice their art. But if their work has legs and is making money they’re certainly entitled to see it.

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
Great find @Matt L! I’ve only just started reading this and it’s good. damn good. “avocation” ha!

4 weeks ago
Matt L
Oh and I just noticed there are banner ads for Rdio on both sides of this website. 🙂

4 weeks ago
Matt L
I don’t think this article has been posted here, but it directly relates to one of the major topics of this playlist: artist compensation. Interesting how two artists separated by 9 years, look at the music world so differently.

http://stereogum.com/1166392/debating-the-grizzly-bear-ny-mag-story-and-making-…

4 weeks ago
Jason Paul
wow…this conversation has been running for well over a year. That’s gotta say something about the stickiness of playlist reviews.

5 weeks ago
MusicRX 🙂
“Technically, Xbox Music is Zune. The Zune legacy code makes up much of the service, and the Zune catalog transitioned along with it.”

No talk of acquisition in any of the articles I’m reading. Have any of you found anything?

5 weeks ago
gretchen ∞♫
streaming + cloud storage = integrated experience. Well, that’s something I’ve been waiting for quite a while, since Lala tried a version of it.

5 weeks ago
Jason Paul
So it’s kind of looking like the MS acquiring Rdio rumor is a dead end. But that’s probably ok since it looks like Rdio is starting to advertise in a big way. I would love to see it regularly mentioned in the same sentence as Spotify

5 weeks ago
MusicRX 🙂
XBOX Music Service looks like it’s going to be entirely different than Rdio. Hmmmm. Perhaps it will be a separate service. As Matt said, it only services the new Windows 8 devices. http://www.xbox.com/en-US/music

There’s a video here http://tiny.cc/XboxMus

“Microsoft has no plans to make Xbox Music open to Windows 7 or Windows Phone 7 customers. The report said, however, that those users will still be able to use Zune Music and have access to the selection of songs in Xbox Music.”

5 weeks ago
Jason Paul
I saw that…not sure what to make of it. Or maybe it’s more subtle, running on Rdio’s database but rebranded as Xbox Music?

5 weeks ago
Matt Marine
And only available on Windows 8 PC’s, Tablets and Xbox to start. Not sure why they wouldn’t have this ready to go for everything, and do a mass rollout.

5 weeks ago
maudeman ‏
MS announced Xbox Music Streaming today. No mention of Rdio, or the source of “30 million songs”.

6 weeks ago
MusicRX 🙂
Because MS didn’t change Skype when they acquired it, most likely they won’t be gutting Rdio. I have a feeling that their infusion of $ and the name recognition of XBOX will allow them to have a free ad supported plan like Spotify and capture more users. Right now the Rdio freemium plan is only for a limited number of months- after that it’s :30 listening (which I’ve been doing until the library here was beefed up). Seems much better now and I’m going to make this place my number one place for music and socializing now. Let’s hope they don’t gut it and turn it into a Zune experience.

6 weeks ago
Jason Paul
(reposting from the Community Playlist the Trilogy by Biker Chick)
I caught another on the upper west side: http://instagram.com/p/QdIZgIEw1F/
I would like to know more about this big ad push. This is some serious visibility. Here’s what I think:
These sly Rdio dogs let Spotify lead the way guns blazing, knowing they had a superior product in Rdio. Now Spotify is getting some serious heat on numerous fronts. The streaming thing is catching up off to a shaky start. Ironically Rdio was here (US) first, slow and steady. Not too much criticism to throw. So they’ve let Spotify put music streaming in the popular consciousness…but it hasn’t, as yet been widely adopted. Here comes Rdio with a much sexier/cooler ad campaign, not beholden to Facebook, ready to scoop up those hip NY users.

6 weeks ago
Jason Paul
Guys I think Rdio is on to something big…like making a mainstream push. Bus stop ads are popping up all over NYC http://instagram.com/p/QbHMJ0Ew32/?fb_source=og_snowlift_photo_user_message

7 weeks ago
Jason Paul
@creatingmischief your comment makes me think…if somehow Rdio were infused with buckets of marketing dollars to become visible to the mainstream we may be looking at a brighter world indeed. There was a rumor yesterday that Microsoft might be looking to buy Rdio. I can’t see how a big powerbroker they wouldn’t see amazing value in this digital music landscape. There’s of course the dismay that salvation for Rdio could come from the notoriously unhip Microsoft. But if they just let Rdio does what it does best with infusions of cash…I think we’ve got something to look forward to.

7 weeks ago
…creatingmischief…
Jason, if you’re living in a bubble then I must be living under a rock cause I’ve never used Spotify. Something about their campaign rubbed me the wrong way. I’m a big fan of Rdio though, and it takes up enough of my time. I love music, but dang I got shit to do. I can hardly keep up with my email these days.

7 weeks ago
Jason Paul
I must be living in the bubble. Seems like everyone uses Spotify…so how could it not be successful? I think Rdio uses the same approach of snagging free users…but maybe not to the same extent as Spotify. Any free users want to shed any light on the freemium experience of Rdio? I always assumed Rdio/Music is something worth subscribing to. It is pretty easy to hear stuff on Spotify for free at any moment…although I use that very sparingly.

7 weeks ago
PDH Loves Wine, Women & Song
Just spotted this go by: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57526690-93/is-spotifys-business-model-broken/…

7 weeks ago
Jason Paul
Wow…hopefully they don’t stink it up if it happens. I kind of would like to see Rdio infused with some real muscle to really go head to head with all the other big names.

7 weeks ago
maudeman ‏
Microsoft eyeing Rdio? http://tinyurl.com/8zaa25g

7 weeks ago
David Crompton
“Scissor Sisters, Snoop Dogg, Chromeo, A-Trak and Brendan Benson” are the only ones announced so far.

7 weeks ago
Jason Paul
Nice find @David Cropmton That looks pretty interesting. I think someone had blogged about that (critically) a little while back…can’t remember where that was though. I’m gonna try it if I can get my new stuff to ever squeeze through the CD Baby gridlock to Rdio (not looking too hopeful). Any artists utilizing this/planning on it?

7 weeks ago
David Crompton
Hmmm–interesting model. This potentially could do something to increase subs while artists get paid. http://www.rdio.com/artistprogram/?utm_source=promoted_USCA_twitter&utm;_co…

2 months ago
Jason Paul
A Netflix subscription is the same as Rdio. Perhaps they didn’t have the best year, but I believe they’re raking it in. Why does subscription work for video and not audio? Seems like this IS the new music economy. But to counterpoint myself, If Rdio somehow only has 100,000 paying subscribers, that ain’t gonna cut it.

2 months ago
Matt L
I haven’t had a chance to catch up on your playlist, Jason, but I have a thought to your recent comment.

I’m not sure that my personal listening habits since using Rdio are better for any musical artist. I listen to tons more than I used too, but the money going to those artists through my listening might as well be zilch. I do occasionally still buy music, but nowhere near what I used to.

I fear for what the music industry would become if everyone had the same habits as me.

2 months ago
Jason Paul
There’s just so much music. Much of it deserves to be listened to. There simply isn’t enough time of course. To all those struggling musicians…isn’t it better for everyone out there that we keep voraciously devouring as much as we can without stopping? Or is better to focus on a few…making fewer but bigger/more successful stars?

2 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
I dunno Brain Door. I guess it’s like the difference between standing in a river, feeling the current pass, and sitting in a grove of trees, listening to leaves rustle. I like both, but I’m spending most of my time in the water these days.

2 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
Interesting stuff lately fellas, thanks.

Rob Weychert, I’ve reached a point where I rarely listen to anything more than once. And yet I feel deeply awash in music and musical ideas. I’m not skipping from one thing to another. I listen fairly carefully, most of the time, many full albums. The result is I feel like I’m flying above the clouds, with an infinite sparkling view, instead of trapped in a cave with just a few intensely burning candles.

2 months ago
Matt Marine
More of the same from the record labels – http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/120919jamestaylor. Although I do think James Taylor owes everyone something for some of the crap he’s put out. (not all, settle down)

2 months ago
Jason Paul
I think I always tend to have an aversion to the ennui that seems very prevalent in the resistance to digital music and streaming. I’m a songwriter, but I never thought it was realistic to give my life over to a music lifestyle. I’m a person of multiple identities…some people don’t even know I’m passionate about music making. Many know me solely as a designer. I do know my share of talented music makers who have at one point or another given their lives to the pursuit of music success. Almost everyone who follows that road gets burned whether that was in the 90s, 00s or today. From my perspective holding on to that older music ideal has a different strong taste of futility. We’re mourning for a lost era of successful elite musicians, but the reality is that most were never going to achieve that level of success. So while we should stick up for artists, we’re talking about such a small exclusive group. I think fame and notoriety can be leveraged once you have it. The actual medium of music is decommoditized and those that are already established do have a lot to lose. But on the ground, I think there are thousands of us who see at least a small chance to at least be heard in this new streaming world. I think they get by like anyone else…werkin for a living.

2 months ago
Matt Marine
There will always be people willing to spend money to make money, hopefully they will just be a little smarter than some of the record labels. We may find that many bands will find their sound on their own, then have to opportunity to go major label or find another backing source to make the next step.

Although, I am trying to keep an open mind and open to new ideas which many artists aren’t. I’d really like to see how the artists that are really buying into the streaming idea are getting by, and if they see the merit in it.

2 months ago
Jason Paul
One of my music collaborator-mates sent me this very compelling blog post by Mike Doughty (Soul Coughing if you guys remember them?) from a few months back.
The post is titled “Radiohead wouldn’t exist without early major-label funding. The future won’t bring new Radioheads. All I want to say here, truly, is: let’s get used to it.”
http://mkdo.co/post/26352263455/radiohead-wouldnt-exist-without-early-major-lab…

He sent it to me because we’re ramping up on our musical output lately and having discussions on what to do next (as many musicians will when they get excited about what they’re making). He’s coming from a more traditional band background—and he’s very burned out on it. I’ve been in bands but always been more in the bedroom recording/songwriting camp and I’ve never made a real go of touring (and don’t really plan to). But we do need to figure out what we’re going to do with our music when it’s ready. Looks like we have no chance at becoming the next radiohead…

2 months ago
Jason Paul
good points fangoguagua. I think Rdio is poised for a supplemental radio solution. One of the long running complaints about Rdio is that there’s just not much in the way of press (or press releases) so most of its loyal userbase is always left guessing. I think somewhere between Spotify, Pandora and Rdio lies a better solution. Admittedly I never use Spotify, but they have they’ve become a platform for music apps. I think their achilles heal is that they hitched their star to Facebook. This of course got them all the publicity but it seems to really limit their reach as a social app. Rdio doesn’t have that problem at all regarding social. Maybe even the best of both worlds. It also has an accessible API that can be utilized to make web apps. In addition, if Rdio could become an app platform, like Spotify is becoming, it would attract all sorts of attention. To circle back, perhaps the unavailability of artwork/lyrics could be a catalyst for app makers. Spotify has apps for lyrics and all sorts of stuff. I should take a look and see what’s new. I know that Hypemachine just launched an app on Spotify.

2 months ago
fangoguagua
A second missed opportunity is glaring to me, and that is the artwork and album information opportunity. No one gives you the art, information, lyrics, etc. that is available on CD’s and was so much better on LP’s. The information part doesn’t seem like rocket science to me, and maybe a legal issue too – screen credits on movies these days are down to the water boy, but who wrote that song or played sax on that tune…? And the size of computer screens is begging for the artwork. But to this day on Rdio, Mog, Rhapsody, Pandora, etc. default album covers are larger on my iPod touch than they are on a 23 inch desktop. So much wasted space…screensavers? There is a real opportunity to digitally re-imagine the heyday of the 12-inch album cover but I haven’t seen anything close. It’s aggravating! And for gosh sakes there are TV’s in cars these days! Radio should really be having a hard time, not Rdio… Everyone seems extremely slow on the uptake in this regard, but I think a simple smart-radio-type, visually appealing, informative service would bring a lot of traffic.

2 months ago
fangoguagua
Rob and jason, I enjoyed reading that. I think perhaps for viability Rdio has to move ahead with the truely “radio” but Pandora-like features once mentioned; I think that is where the money for artists lies and I look forward to something like that. Discovery and community are Rdio’s strengths, but they haven’t leveraged either one; they’re relying on us. And I agree with you Rob, for myself it has been too much music and thus too shallow – not enough time to listen and really get to know. I imagine that many of Rdio’s listeners other than people just trying it out are real music afficionados – and that small group will not bring in a lot of money for artists; they need committed casual listeners, real radio listeners, the kind of people who may not buy a lot of music but listen to the radio and have thanked me repeatedly for mix-tapes I gave them years ago… I think there is a sweet spot between Pandora/radio type services and Streaming/Cloud Collection type services that no one has yet tapped – sort of an iTunes Genius for the Web. I’ve kind of been trying to straddle discovery/repeated-listening through focused playlists and have been trying to fully describe and cross-reference playlists for any casual listeners that come across something they like. But Rdio could make it a lot easier for both the aficionados and the casual listeners, in my opinion!

2 months ago
Jason Paul
I can see how commodity = physical space. I think ultimately nothing lasts forever and as I’m taking a more transient viewpoint it’s been very easy to let go of the need to collect distributed media (as long as you can always legally plug in to get it somewhere…and admittedly judging by Netflix’s very poor offering we’re far away from this utopia). I used fetishize records in the early 00s. I had accumulated an impressive record collection. Through some major life changes they are all gone…although I still have my Technics. Maybe I think I’ll get the bug again. But after all those records were gone I gave up. I think iTunes is too expensive for my ravenous appetite. Thus Rdio has been a revelation for me. I was able to listen to Bob Dylan’s complete catalogue a few months ago on Rdio. It took me at least a month.

To slightly change the subject…I’ve been really curious to find what IS missing from Rdio. I created a playlist here to find things (although I guess that is a paradox if they’re nowhere to be found). Comment or post a cover tune to the list. I encourage everyone viewing this to contribute: http://www.rdio.com/people/jasonpaul/playlists/996467/Music_Not_Available_for_S…

2 months ago
Rob Weychert
I’ve been on the wrong side of history before. Check out this comment I made in April 2003:

“The iTunes Music Store boasts that it puts 200,000 songs at your fingertips. Think about the immense volume of history’s recorded legacy—200,000 songs is nothing. Independent music will be scarcely represented, if at all. So basically this thing saves you a trip to the mall. They should call this service iSam Goody.”

My CD collection was ripped to MP3 by the end of 2004 and I reluctantly stopped buying CDs late in 2008.

With the mainstream rise of cloud computing, I don’t doubt that renting music is the way the wind is blowing. You’re right that for the general public, convenience trumps all, and mass adoption may well bring about a tipping point where streaming becomes profitable for artists. But at risk of sounding like an über-snob, when it comes to music, I am not part of the general public. Inconvenience (a relative term) makes me cherish the music more, forces me to interact with it in ways that bring me closer to it (managing metadata is one example of this; keep an eye on my site in the next few weeks for more about that). MP3s may be intangible, but in this day and age, gigabytes are a commodity tantamount to physical space, and that’s an inconvenient investment I try to make count in a way that the easy-come, easy-go of streaming can’t.

It’s possible that the subscription service paradigm will one day be able to accommodate the way I want to experience music. But I expect – perhaps naïvely – that if I make that leap, it will be because streaming somehow came around to my way of thinking, and not the other way around. 🙂

2 months ago
Jason Paul
Thanks for commenting Rob! A part of me wants to agree with you. I just can’t mesh the action of buying music to my own behavior. But I see this is a moral issue for you and many other music lovers. When you talk about buying music, do you mean buying downloads from iTunes or physical objects (vinyl, cds)? I totally get buying physical objects (even though I practice this less and less these days). I don’t understand buying intangible downloads when they can be “rented” from Rdio. With either you essentially get the same thing (nothing except experience in your ears?). But one of them seems a much better value from the pov of the consumer. From the moral perspective, that’s a different story. But Rdio/Spotify are legal and legitimate. If musicians have made their music available on these services we should do our part and consume as much as we can. I actually believe that if streaming goes mainstream the scales will actually tip so that streaming will become profitable for some musicians. I don’t see any other way because in the long run most people are not going to make the “moral” choice of paying the iTunes premium to put more money in musicians pockets. Convenience will win out. I think our responsibility is to make sure that convenience does indeed pay musicians.

2 months ago
Rob Weychert
Jason, thanks for reading. Discovering music is great. As you read in my post, I discovered a ton of music in my first year using Rdio. But discovery is not enough, and indeed, as in my case, it can be too much. I want to KNOW music. And I just can’t know it all. That’s what a curated collection is about: it’s that tiny drop in music’s vast ocean that I’ve invested in financially and emotionally.

Eschewing the need for buying music completely? Music is too important to me to just hand the keys over to an internet service that might not be here tomorrow. I’ve been burned enough times online to know that. Besides, there’s a ton of great music that’s not available on subscription services, often because artists want to actually get paid when people enjoy their work so they can continue to do it. Even the artists I’ve listened to the most on Rdio haven’t gotten more than a penny or two out of it. That’s not a fair trade.

I’ll continue to try to find ways for Rdio to be a part of how I enjoy music. But for it to be my sole gateway just isn’t sustainable. Not for me and not for the musicians I love.

2 months ago
Jason Paul
An interesting blog post by a fellow Rdio user: http://robweychert.com/writing/year-of-rdio/

IMO his paradigm is off. He compares Rdio to an escort service yet won’t be leaving anytime soon. Rdio is simply not about some ideal of finding music you want to buy. It’s about eschewing the need for buying music completely. That’s the point. He doesn’t mention the main benefit to all with Rdio. Discovery. I’ve discovered more music in the last year and a half than at any time in possibly my entire life. Some of those discoveries have been converted into concert purchases. I think gaining a fan is more valuable than the price of an album.

2 months ago
Jason Paul
Another CD Baby tangent…I’m pretty frustrated at the speed at which CD Baby releases get on Rdio. I’ve got another old release that I pushed through weeks ago. CD Baby said they would advance it in the queue but it doesn’t appear to have helped. They did say there’s a bottleneck of CD Baby releases trying to get to Rdio. It appears Rdio can’t handle the volume. Anyone else know of any CD Baby artists that are having trouble getting their work on Rdio in a timely manner?

2 months ago
dave r
PDH… I should have written down the exact number of followers that I noted earlier for rdio on rdio. Because, in 7 hours, it seems to have increased by a thousand. Interesting. Maybe that’s a default for new members or those on the ‘free side’.
In any event, it’s easier to find Romney’s Tax Returns than Rdio’s Subscriber Numbers.

2 months ago
PDH Loves Wine, Women & Song
I started following Rdio on Rdio, the number of followers did not immediately change when I came back to their page, but has since ticked up by 4 or 5. In another moment it should be 333,333…

2 months ago
David Crompton
In Canada Rdio accounts seem to automatically follow Rdio Canada when they subscribe. [There are 34674 followers] I assume Rdio on Rdio is is the equiv of Rdio USA. I guess if you added the all of those regional [France, UK, Brazil etc] accounts you’d have some kind of a minimum base sub number. [although many of those could be free or dormant accounts] Pretty hard to get number!

2 months ago
Jason Paul
If Rdio has 1 million (paying) subscribers that would theoretically make them a much larger force that is being severely underrated. The amount of music on here is, I think, just as competitive as Spotify’s offerings (thanks to the CD Baby connection). Being we’re all probably “insiders” I’m not sure what the Rdio experience is for non-paying users but it factors in pretty heavily to Spotify’s. I should poll my Facebook friends to see whose paying…

2 months ago
dave r
rdio on rdio has over 332,000 followers. I wouldn’t think that represents even 30% of the total subscribers.
1 million?

2 months ago
Jason Paul
A nice update on the state of digital music. Seems like we might be looking at a stalement: “Too expensive to be free, too free to be expensive.” http://evolver.fm/2012/09/06/music-is-still-too-expensive-to-be-free-too-free-t…
I think it’s just about the numbers. Wish Rdio factored more into these conversations. Also, would love to know how many subscribers Rdio has. Since it’s not mainstream I guess there’s very little demand for them to release figures.

3 months ago
Jason Paul
Spotify’s most streamed songs of the summer: http://www.nme.com/news/miscellaneous/65829
I might actually pay attention to Spotify if it made the stream counter part of their interface. I LOVE that I can get a general idea of plays on Rdio. I hope they never hide that counter.

3 months ago
Jason Paul
Cricket? Muve Music? Anyone ever heard of this?
“How Cricket’s Muve Music wants to become bigger than Spotify” http://gigaom.com/2012/08/28/cricket-muve-music-spotify/

3 months ago
Jason Paul
Interesting note about CD Baby as relates to Rdio. Last week I re-released an old album from a different band I was in 7 years ago via CD Baby. The album was on iTunes the next day. On Spotify the day after that. But still the album hasn’t shown up on Rdio. Hopefully by Tuesday. I guess the pipeline to release to Rdio is slower for some reason.

3 months ago
Jason Paul
So I noticed the Rodriguez soundtrack Searching for Sugar Man 3 weeks ago in the new releases. Never heard of it but he looked pretty bad-ass on the cover so I gave it a listen. I was pretty gripped by the song “I wonder” and I myself wondered if I had somehow missed a major songwriting talent from the 70s. I later came across rave reviews of the documentary Searching for Sugar Man and recalled the soundtrack I’d found on Rdio. I resolved to see the movie. In NY it’s only playing at two theaters but I made it to one of them this weekend. What a fantastic story. If you can catch the movie this has my highest recommendation. I’m now a life-long Rodriguez fan. Why did I write this? I think it’s a pretty interesting feedback loop. A testament to the greatness of Rdio for music discovery.

3 months ago
Jason Paul
Lacey do you think “song farming” really works that way? I wonder if that first listen by one user has the most weight and then subsequent listens get de-prioritized in terms of stats. I’m just thinking more the way SoundCloud works. If I keep listening to my own tracks it doesn’t track them as plays.
Aside, I would be interested in a curated playlist of music culled specifically from CD Baby…but I think they don’t get any distribution cred. Would be pretty interesting to assess quality of super indies compared to ‘official’ releases.

3 months ago
Matt L
Yeah, I was just using Tuesday as an example to illustrate the behavior of new releases.

Actually most of the good releases come out on Monday since that’s when most imports come out. Now I’m just being a pain.

3 months ago
Lacey Underall
The new release list doesn’t reset each week. It’s actually rolling, but since most releases come out on Tuesday it just looks like it resets.

There’s always a few albums that seem to come in midweek and get a few listens. No one notices because they’re at the back of the line. But when Monday midnight comes and those albums that have had a few days headstart are the albums that initially end up in front.

But Matt L is correct. If you were to wait until midnight when your album comes out and then just go to bed and leave it playing all night, that would probably be enough plays to get it pretty near the top. And then just the mere fact that it’s near the top means other people will see it and play it so sort of snowballs. There are some really bad albums every week that stay in the first page just because they’re already ON the first page and enough people click it out of curiosity.

I’m surprised there isn’t more song farming, where five or six people who are friends of the band or the band themselves or paid by someone don’t just keep an act’s album playing 24/7. It keeps the song in the top charts/top of new releases, plus you’re making money on each play.

3 months ago
Matt L
Just my observation, but I believe that the new release section changes as people listen to selections from it. When Tuesdays come around, most releases from that day are grouped according to label. But it’s actually more like they are grouped by when they are uploaded. As albums are listened to their order changes. At least that’s what I’ve noticed.

Now there may be some sort of up-charge to get your label’s releases uploaded first, but I really doubt that makes a huge difference to most labels. Honestly I think its mostly just the “power users” that are up in the middle of the night pilfering the new releases anyways.

3 months ago
Jason Paul
Makes sense Lacey. I’m trying to get it together to release a single in the next few months. I will be ecstatic if I spot myself in the New Releases section. Still not sure if I’m going to use CD Baby or stick to my original plan and go with AWOL

3 months ago
Lacey Underall
It’s the opposite, I think. More stuff is getting released on CD Baby now than on recognized labels. And it’s the newer stuff from CD Baby that makes its way here. As Jason Paul found out, they don’t release stuff to the streaming outlets without permission from the artists (which is the proper thing to do). When you put your stuff on CD Baby now, there’s a box you tick if you want it to be available. Obviously prior to Spotify and Rdio, there would be no box. And new artists are more aware of Spotify and Rdio, so probably more inclined to say “yes.” A lot of the older acts are broken up or not in contact or just don’t care anymore.

CD Baby was great when you needed a physical distributor, and it was the first big independent artist label like that out there. I imagine it is now leaking artists to Bandcamp and Soundcloud, but there’s still a lot of artists using it. I feel like it is stuck in the middle. It appeals to older independent artists who want to sell their records online in an online record store.

But the new generation is beyond those concepts and just wants to put their digital files on a website so people can listen to them. Doesn’t even have to be a record. They make a song, they slap it on bandcamp.

The new release section is definitely arranged by popularity. I don’t think stuff that is new to Rdio from CD Baby is in the new release section since their release dates are old and they are not new releases. Which makes sense, because you’d completely bury any real new releases, and the new release section would ridiculously long and unworkable. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of releases.

3 months ago
Matt L
I agree with you Gretch. Another thing I was noticing today while I was tooling around CDBaby in an attempt to find one of those needles in the haystack that actually did cross-over (the only thing I found of interest were these guys http://www.rdio.com/artist/Escapade/) was that I really could not find much at all that was released in the last 3 years or so there. It might have just been the messed-up, druggy categories of music that I was bin diving through, but if that is true throughout their site, CDBaby may be on the way out for new music anyways.

3 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
Do you really think there’s priority in the New Release section? There are definitely chunks by label/distributor, but beyond that I see little rhyme or reason.

Very pleased with CDBaby showing up on Rdio.

3 months ago
Matt L
So where’s the link to your old band?!?!

As far as CDBaby though, I’m pretty much with you. I’m not sure what I was missing to begin with. I know there is good stuff in Rdio that wasn’t there before, but it’s just basically more needles in the haystack, ya know? The only band I was hoping would cross-over to Rdio is Ghost To Falco. Unfortunately they still are not here.

I’ve been waiting this long though, so I’m good a bit longer.

3 months ago
Jason Paul
so yay, my old band made it to Rdio thanks to Rdio opening up to CD Baby. My question would be…does anyone notice an influx of stuff now that CD Baby is on? I actually had to send CD Baby an email to make sure the release is on Rdio. So maybe most artists on CD Baby don’t realize they have to nudge CD Baby to to make sure their songs get to Rdio at least right now. I don’t really follow CD Baby so I’m not really sure what we were missing. I suspect (hopefully I’m wrong) that CD Baby does not have priority billing in the New Releases section.

4 months ago
Jason Paul
@Matt L I think that $ stuff is pretty transparent through CDBaby…I think my old album is in the queue for Rdio soon. I will gladly let you know what the cut is. This is a game changer for me in a way because I was planning on using a very different distribution service for new stuff I’m about to drop…because all I care about is getting my stuff on Rdio ;-). Now I don’t have to look elsewhere.
http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2012/07/cd-baby-partners-with-rdio-making-your-mu…

4 months ago
Matt L
Nice! Hopefully we will get endless amounts of interesting independent stuff from this. I wonder what the process is for an artist to use CDBaby as a proxy to get on Rdio? And how much money they make per track streamed?

4 months ago
Jason Paul
Guys…we had this conversation awhile ago…about CDBaby coming to Rdio…looks like that day has come http://blog.rdio.com/us/2012/08/now-on-rdio-cd-baby.html
Speaking as a label-les indie music maker…hoping to see some of my stuff pop on here soon 🙂

4 months ago
One Mighty Mike
So what is the deal with TOP CHARTS? I have asked the powers that be how they are determined and they said by “popularity”. Really? “Songs to learn for bossa nova guitar” has been sitting on my top charts for weeks as well as a playlist called “list” with no subscribers. Anyone know how they are determined or what is up with it? Seems like a wasted opportunity to showcase really interesting playlists and/or truly popular ones.

4 months ago
Jason Paul
Some critique of Spotify: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/120731spotify

” they promised 50 million active users to advertisers – within the first year” … since they launched they have gotten 4million (which sounded good to me)

4 months ago
…creatingmischief…
I think that’s a swell idea, Jason Paul. I could see that working out down the road somewhere.

4 months ago
Jason Paul
Rdio idea….what if Rdio started licensing music videos to go with tracks. Was at a party last night with projected music videos as the playlist and toward the end we were struggling with Youtube ads and quality to keep the momentum going. Licensing music videos seems a logical extension and a great fit for Rdio because it’s a web app. Could seriously be a punch in the gut to YouTube.

4 months ago
Matt Marine
Just noticed that the New Music Tipsheet has a link to Rdio – http://newmusictipsheet.com/page.php?id=week1. Even if it does just seem to take you to the Heavy Rotation page, not the artist you click on. The Songkick link is a good add too.

4 months ago
One Mighty Mike
LOL I thought “critic’s review” was a name of a subscriber! I thought it was a brilliant choice of names! I thought “Wow…this person has a lot to say most of which is boring!” I kept trying to click on the name to see the profile. 🙂

4 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
@Bill – agree! Put the AMG/Rovi reviews back with the other artist/album info, where we can ignore it if we want.

4 months ago
Matt Marine
Did anyone figure out what is going on with the Hack day features mentioned on the blog? Can’t find any comments about the future implementation of them, or where to find them. A couple look decent.

4 months ago
Bill Burns
“Critic’s Review”… aka AMG/Rovi music reviews… ick. Loved it when the only input on an album was from users, it was refreshing.

4 months ago
One Mighty Mike
I don’t get this….are these features live? If so, the rdio experience would be better…am I missing something? http://blog.rdio.com/us/2012/07/from-rdio-engineering-rdio-hack-day-2.html?utm_…

5 months ago
GrandFun
@Gretchen “Do you guys use anything online to manage what shows you’ll see?” I just came across this and it looks pretty good and covers venues down to the size of bars. Here’s the link http://www.bandsintown.com/

5 months ago
Jason Paul
this article is only interesting in that the thesis of this playlist is proved right. Streaming somehow wasn’t mainstream a year ago and I find that hard to imagine: http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/15/tech/web/music-streaming/index.html

5 months ago
GrandFun
@…creatingmischief… Yes there is a free version of MOG. It’s called MOG FreePlay. If you have fb, just use fb connect and you’ll be able to use it.

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
I like MOG’s current interface, and always liked their player and playlist features. If they had any kind of feed or ways to interact with others, they’d be in the running for sure. Even then, Rdio’s huge new release section would be hard to give up. Never would have discovered Delicate Steve or Yellow Ostrich or tons of others anywhere else. You’d have to wait for some blog or Pitchfork or NPR to tell you what to listen to.

5 months ago
David Crompton
Just saw that headline in the elevator–good to see it’s already posted here. It’s a slightly more interesting acqusition than I expected.

5 months ago
tod nelson
Beats acquired MOG:

http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/01/beats-acquisition-of-mog-confirmed-the-aim-is-…

5 months ago
geemarcus
@Jason: you’re right…every time I try out Spotify it’s just horribly painful; Rdio is far superior even with all the backpedaling they’ve done. They seem hell bent on dumb-ing down to Spotify’s level, though; I hope they don’t get there.

5 months ago
…creatingmischief…
Rdio thinks this is easier on our eyes, huh? I feel blinded by the light… Oh dear.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
I feel I’ve got nowhere else to go though. I believe in this streaming thing. I just can’t get into Spotify. Gave it a shot this morning and really don’t like their angle on the whole thing. Gonna tough it out with Rdio. The crap design choices could theoretically be corrected overnight. The functionality is all their and as I’m hearing a bit improved in this update.

5 months ago
Bill Burns
I’ve always touted superior UI as one of the factors in my preference for this service, when promoting it to peers. I can’t do that anymore. This is painful.

5 months ago
Fraser Marshall
With this new update to the Rdio UI, I feel like I can no longer honestly recommend Rdio to friends. It’s a bloody blank canvas and my eyes have no idea where to focus. Playschool UI at best.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
@Bunqo good call on the BS. They had some hack just mess with the CSS stylesheet. That’s it. Pulling a few colors from a CSS styles has minimal impact on performance if any. If anything, they’re using a custom font on the left (ugly as shit I might add). Custom fonts actually add load time. Go back to Helvetica. It’s an app.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
As a person who is very sensitive to design (by profession I suppose), I don’t know if I can take this terrible redesign. One of the reason’s I loved Rdio so much was because I felt the design was superior. Now it’s just not. I hate it. I don’t want to look at it. I’m sadly considering defecting to Spotify over this.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
ugh…this is deliberate http://blog.rdio.com/us/2012/06/introducing-a-brighter-lighter-rdio.html

They basically got rid of all the color blocks…which I think are very useful in a web app. Now I’m staring at white everwhere, and the font size/selection in the left sidebar and header are really not to my taste. I think it looks amateurish. If you’re going to redesign a site, redesign it. Don’t restyle an already fairly well-designed site and make it err…less designed.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
Does anyone else’s Rdio interface all the sudden look like garbage? I think they changed or are changing the styles…and it’s sucking so far

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
maybe the FB ties?

@mischief, you are so funny. Sure, that’s possible!

5 months ago
geemarcus
@CM: I was thinking the free-ness may have something to do with it…they may not be paying out as much/at all for free streams.

5 months ago
…creatingmischief…
Good recap, Jason. I must admit that I was happy to make the transition to digital music and not just because I had access to a whole new world of discovery, opening the doors to so much I knew was out there, but couldn’t get my ears on. It was also that I didn’t have to lug around a bunch of compact disc that would inevitably get scratched at some point. I’ve held onto a handful of disc with their cases. (Mainly special collections like The Clash, Pavement, Galaxy 500). Then I have these stacks of disc without cases and most of those are probably unreadable…Basically, in this digital age, I am happy not to add to the clutter.

With all of this change, my hope is that the record execs give up their money making ways in the music biz and move out of the way so that my money can go directly to the artist. That’s possible, right?

@Gee- I’m not sure why either Spotify would be any worse than MOG… Maybe Lowery didn’t like the ads for free Spotify? I hear it’s all McD’s, Chevy, Verizon, and other evil corporations. Is there free MOG?

5 months ago
Jason Paul
A fun recap of the last few weeks in digital music: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/an-emi-universal-merger-wont-fix-the-music…

5 months ago
geemarcus
Does anyone know why Lowery singles out Spotify as bad, but MOG as OK?

5 months ago
Jason Paul
@Lacey I think they’ll find a way to make megastars (which don’t count in my book..Lady Gaga, Idol etc.) But do we lose future equivalents to the Beatles, Dylan and the Stones? Maybe I’m just brainwashed by the boomer generation but that advent rock stuff seems like the pinacle. It seems like there’s no way for a real artist to reach those heights anymore.

5 months ago
Lacey Underall
@Jason Paul– I don’t know if my vision of the future is that bleak. Just different is all. Modern studio technology plus the ability to stream is great for a lot of people, including yourself. As creating mischief points out musicians (particularly the ones most of us probably listen to) have never made much money. In the old days, they got screwed over by labels. Now they get screwed by livenation. The potential revenue to be made is perhaps less than it used to be, but the cost of getting your music out is much less as well. There will be less rock stars, but to a large extent that’s because people have more choices instead of being forced to listen to a handful of artists being pushed to us by labels. So it’ll be really different, but I dont know if it will be worse. It could even be better.

5 months ago
…creatingmischief…
Awww yes, Gretchen. There’s that one, too.

Five years ago I saw KRS-ONE in Prospect Park. It was a three dollar donation to get in and there were other performers of course, but KRS-ONE was the one I wanted to see. He was damn inspirational that day as he spoke about being a young homeless man sleeping on the benches in that same park, visualizing a better life, and following that vision at the right moment. Something else he said really stuck with me though. He said that what he was doing on stage was his art, a gift passed onto him by God. He explained that what we pay for when we buy a CD is simply the manufacturing of art, not the art itself because art can’t truly be priced.

I know that the times have changed, but let’s not forget how many people got royally screwed over by the music industry and never saw a good portion of the money promised to them. We can’t blame music streaming for everything. Most of the performances I have gone to over the last 2 (nearly 3 years now, right? How long have we been together, Rdio?) have been bands I discovered through Rdio. I’d say that for most all of these aforementioned bands, I did not purchase a ticket through ticketmaster or whatever. I probably even bought some merch, being as I thought I would be helping the band out on their tour. In any case, I know I enjoyed the shows and for a little while, my life felt free from worry and I was content to be where I was at. I can only hope the same for the musicians.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
@Lacey I have to admit the picture you paint is bleak…and the music maker you describe sounds like…me. That kind of anemic, non-touring scenario you’ve painted would actually work pretty well for someone like me (well over 25 at this point with a non-music dependent career – but still writing and recording in the hopes to put something new and good out there). And yes there could be a laptop involved. Tragic since our idols were rockstars who really got to live out their rocknroll dreams. Different times. But hell, I’m an optimist. I think there’s money locked up in this streaming thing to give artists cash to live on.

5 months ago
Matt Marine
I find Songkick works pretty well, but misses a couple of venues in my town. I just make sure to check their sites occasionally.

5 months ago
One Mighty Mike
@gretchen it is amazing to me that it is so difficult to find one comprehensive source that details ALL of the concerts in my area. I have to go to at least 4 different sites and still I miss so many. You would think that SOMEONE would come up with a solution…… !!!

5 months ago
Lacey Underall
Other than a tiny handful of artists who are mostly already rich, no one makes money on tour. In fact, you lose money hand over fist. And the only merch you sell on tour is your band’s CD, which hardly put a dent in your losses and which now no one will buy. The only reason to tour is because you like playing live shows enough that it makes losing all that money and all the hell you go through worth it. It’s pretty much something sort of fun (mostly in retrospect) to do when you are 25 and don’t need money. It’s like hosteling through Europe.

You are going to see fewer and fewer acts tour. People will be less interested in seeing acts live because they are less committed to those acts. If everyone listens to 100 CD’s twice, they don’t form enough commitment to pay $25 to see a band (of which like $24.99 goes to ticketnationmasterlive). And because recording is cheap and labels are passe, acts are no longer forced to tour to attract A&R people or to “recoup” on deals. Plus the type of music that gets out there now is mainly stuff that doesn’t make for a good show. What’s great about modern technology is that one person in their spare time can sit in their bedroom and put together a full album with some PC wizardry. But that person can’t tour, because you’d just be watching them push buttons on stage. And I bet that person doesn’t want to tour because music creation is a hobby for them as opposed to the old days where playing live and trying to hit it big was the main attraction.

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
Hey mischief, the one I was thinking of is SonicLiving.

5 months ago
…creatingmischief…
Hey Gretchen, I’ve been using Jambase for years. I’ve joined some others, but can’t find any recent emails from them so… if my memory kicks in, I’ll be back.

Songkick. Yes, I use Songkick, Live Nation, and Oh My Rockness. Good grief! It’s no wonder I can’t keep up with my email.

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
Do you guys use anything online to manage what shows you’ll see? Beyond just looking up venue schedules, I mean? There was one I tried that surveyed the music files on my hd, then would send me a notice when any of them were playing in my area. It worked less and less well over time though, they didn’t seem to track the schedules of the smaller venues I prefer. I like last.fm’s feature to see who else was going to a show. Since a lot of people I’m connected with here have last.fm accounts too, it worked pretty well to meet some of them in real life.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
I do make direct financial contributions via Kickstarter or to artists websites whom I actually know when I have a direct connection (maybe even at a show). I guess that means I’m not walking to strict a line regarding where I think money should go regarding music. It does make a difference to me that I’m asked to give by the artist though…that tug.

@One Mighty Mike how was the show? I got into M. Hawthorne via Rdio too. Didn’t make it to his show when he came around but I evangelized enough about him that a few friends actually did go. The list of bands I’ve become a fan of through Rdio is very long. Nearly every show I’ve been to in the last year+ has been an artist I found first on Rdio.

5 months ago
One Mighty Mike
My 2 cents. Streaming will continue to grow. It ultimately is a good thing because more artists will be exposed to more people. Just like itunes was revolutionary- (a world where you wouldn’t be forced to buy a whole album of CRAP for one or two good songs) streaming is the next logical step. As for the musicians? Yes there is “the music”……but beside the albums there are the concerts, royalties, the “apps”, the merchandise, the videos, the appearances, the endorsements, possible tv and movie opportunities and the commercials. The actual music is just a piece of the pie. If it sounds cold sorry…but that is the way it is. The world is changing. The music world is changing. I would like to think that we “streamers” are already having some effect on the landscape out there. The smart ones will figure it out (if they haven’t already). Meanwhile, yours truly is off to a Mayer Hawthorne concert soon….. an artist I didn’t know a year ago because I didn’t have this streaming service. Go figure. In the immortal words of Carly Rae Jepsen- “Before you came into my life I missed you so so bad”.

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
Both. I feel it’s an investment in those artists to produce more music — for me! I want them to know someone cares about what they are doing. I always mention if I discovered them on Rdio — so they know streaming works to bring in new ears for them. I agree streaming is the way to go, eventually. I buy the cds in the meantime to bridge the gap, until artists can make real money with streaming.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
@gretch somewhat personal question…Do you buy from the artists for reasons such as charity (to borrow from Tod) or real practical usage reasons? I just ask because I do all my listening on Rdio. I seldom dip into iTunes unless someone has actually sent me an MP3 to check out.

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
p.s. since then, if I really like an artist I find here, I go to their website and buy the cd, because I know this gets them the most $$s into their pocket. I avoid going through middlemen as much as possible.

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
JP, the only time streaming & downloading worked together for me was on Lala. But there, you could listen only *once* fully for free (no subscription model at all). After that, your options were:
10 cents to have unlimited access to any track, via Lala’s cloud — I did this most of the time, because I rarely found whole albums I wanted and was connected most of the time I was listening

or download mp3s at prices comparable to iTunes — I did this when I found an album I really liked, because Lala had no sync, this was the only way to be portable. And, this option provided the same access to the cloud version as the 10 cent songs, so I thought that was superior to what anyone else offered (like iTunes).

This model worked great for someone like me, who listens to a ton of stuff once, a few things a lot. I would sign on for it again, no problem. I think the 10 cent ‘websong’ idea is a great pay-as-you-go type model. You get dinged only once, not every time — nice! You managed your wallet, not the number of listens, so it also encouraged impulse spending. 🙂

5 months ago
tod nelson
I don’t really see streaming and downloading co-existing. As long as I’m paying $ to stream, I see no incentive to download other than pure charity–and since the vast majority of the money of the download purchase would go to the label, well, I’m not too excited to be charitable to the label. I’m trusting that paying Rdio is an ethical choice–that they are doing the do-dilegence in making sure the money is distributed back to the label/artist. There is the scary notion of a pay-per-stream service. You’d set up an account with a Rdio-like streaming service, but you’d be billed .XX cents per song streamed. That way you’d still have access to an enormous catalog, but you’d have to be cautious with your streaming choices. Heavy users would pay more that light ones.

I love the litter metaphor, Gretch.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
@Gretchen…another thought about purchasing. If the combination of streaming and downloading is the lynchpin that’s going to improve the state of music makers I think that UX burden should be instigated by the streaming service itself. They have only to gain by encourage streamers to become downloaders. I can’t really think of a good way to do that within Rdio though. Yes, you can click ‘Buy Mp3s’ everywhere. I’ve never done this. Has anyone here? I think some sort of Steve Jobs type of person needs to figure out how to make streaming and downloading make sense for users. If the two logically co-exist and people can see the real value to them as consumers (as opposed to just ethical value) of doing both then I think we’ve got an economically sound answer to the problem. Or maybe it is like the litter campaign. Have Rdio take note that you’ve listened to an album several times and send you a pop-up prompt of some sort that says “We can tell you love this album. Support the artist and buy this album.” I can see that having an effect on even me.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
In another curveball, Dave Crompton and I were commenting on the record label Ghostly’s decision to offer their own type of subscription service (not to be confused with streaming): http://www.prefixmag.com/news/ghostly-international-announces-subscription-serv…

I’m not sure it’s actually going to work…but then again, I used to subscribe to all sorts of things when I was a kid (comic books come to mind). So maybe there is something there to help artists and labels get more direct revenue.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
@gretchen I’m just advocating that streaming IS the ethical choice. I definitely do agree that pirating is unethical. Lowery seems to still be in favor of the iTunes type of system. While the iTunes system was successful in “rescuing” older music consumers who were used to purchasing cds and felt a more palpable guilt, it completely lost Emily’s generation. It’s easy to say in hindsight, but if streaming had been put in place long ago and spearheaded as the ethical alternative I think pirating would be more at the fringe and less the norm. I see a few friends a week subscribe to Spotify (wish it was Rdio). It’s gaining steam really fast. The mass adoption of these services, to me, means that maybe it really wasn’t as much an ethics problem as a usability problem.

Great analogy about littering. And I totally get it. But regarding paying for a download vs streaming…I just don’t have any use for the download cluttering up my harddrive. Why do I have to do this? I subscribed to Rdio with $ to avoid the download.

5 months ago
tod nelson
I kinda feel for poor Emily, and LOL at the notion of someone in the music biz “paying” for music. The labels and artists flood any “influencer”–music writers, djs, interns, radio-stations, magazines, ETC–with tons of free music (first Lps, then Cds, then MP3s) hoping to gain a leg up on their competitors. You can’t blame Emiy for taking advantage of that. The bulk of my cd and rare-LP collection is based on my stint as a music writer–I’d get as many as 50 cds a day in the mail. And I gave my friends and family free reign to borrow/copy my library. I know one longtime writer/DJ who has two houses–one to store his collection and I can safely say in his 20+ years in the biz, he hasn’t paid for one single song. (Of course, in his position as an influencer, he’s probably sold millions of songs). David Lowery knows this. Emily isn’t pirating so much as taking advantage of a situation created by the labels to gain competitive advantage.

And I want to bring up another ethical lapse: when the labels digitized their catalogs and sold it back to their customers for more than twice as much money for a supposedly superior product (it wasn’t). And a product that was much cheaper to produce (cds cost a fraction of vinyl to produce)…they made billions and billions of dollars from consumers doing that. But it came back to bite them on their asses when people figured out that digitized copies of the songs were easy to copy and share. Doh.

Lowery does single out Mog as a “legitimate” business, and I suppose he’d say the same about Rdio.

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
Why is it your problem. I assume that’s rhetorical. I’m not saying do it out of guilt, but maybe ethics yes. Incorporate a longer vision in those choices. Let’s say a selfish bigger picture where music continues to be plentiful and easy to obtain — because musicians can still make it. If I refuse to pay a little bit more right now, before streaming becomes a workable model for musicians as well as the site owners, then where will I be in 10 years? Maybe with far fewer choices of artists and music? Will I have to listen to Adele all day? Heaven forbid.

Let’s take another example. When I was a small child, I can remember when Lady Bird Johnson started the anti-littering campaign. Before that, the amount trash on roads and streets everywhere was unbelievable. You’d see people throwing bags and cups and all sorts of things right out their car windows. It was EASY to get rid of something right then, when you wanted to get rid of it, and there were no repercussions to you as an individual. Except the countryside looked like a pigpen. If you’ve ever been to other countries where littering is still acceptable you know what I’m talking about. But the campaign made it socially unacceptable to act this way anymore. And soon, municipalities and businesses provided waste cans to help you out. Gas stations gave out plastic litter bags for your car! Later, laws were passed to fine litterers. So now, you don’t even think about it — there’s a tug on your soul before you’d ever throw anything on the ground. It’s not instantly convenient, but it’s not a huge deal either, to look for a can or trashbin, or wait until you get home and throw it in your own trash.

And all this wouldn’t work if nearly everyone didn’t act the same way. Small acts, repeated endlessly, add up to huge dividends. But such acts have to begin with a choice for the larger good, and believing such choices will come back to benefit you personally. When Lowrey talks about the classes he teaches, and what he’s trying to teach, it’s about this. It goes beyond music too. Maybe the problem is people don’t see this kind of benefit, or don’t believe in it? I don’t know. There’s a questioning of it, an acting against it, on all levels right now.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
I like that this comes back to Futurism. That Jonathan Coulter guy must have read some Toffler and Rushkoff as that’s where I’ve heard that phrase before (go one further and both are advocating the end of economic system as we know it as money needn’t be scarce either…another topic). I share Gretchen’s concern regarding the impending astronomical waste of something like 3-d printing. But that is already here.. It’s common in design studios who create prototypes of products. So a consumer model is really just around the corner. So in that I’d say Jonathan Coulter is being a little timid there.

As for mp3s being a poor example of the end of scarcity…that’s probably not the way to approach the issue. But music is the original disembodied “product”. We don’t have these conversations as much with movies and movie piracy because for most of their history consumers knew they were buying an experience rather than a tangible object. Obviously music is an experience but its form is usually short, maleable and portable. Streaming is the only viable platform that aligns with behavior (at least my own behavior).

I think all this help the artist stuff is really noble but a terrible business model. You can’t sell music using tactics of guilt or even ethics. You must create an object of desire, necessity or both. For me this streaming thing is essentially that. A great product that offers a great experience. There definitely should be advocates out there for musicians making sure they get their fair share. But if I’m spending my $10/mo as a consumer and it’s all legit why is this my problem?

The only way I see forward is for streaming to be accepted as the new way the music business is done. Because I guess I do agree with Emily in that you’re not going to get people to buy downloads on the scale you need them to. And that’s not because of bad ethics. It’s because the experience of doing so just isn’t viable anymore.

5 months ago
Lacey Underall
End of scarcity is a good thing. But pirating mp3’s is a poor example. You were never paying $10 for a shiny plastic disc. You were paying $10 for a bunch of Lou Reed songs (or whoever). There is still only one Lou Reed. That intellectual property is as scarce as it has always been. And Lou Reed (or any other musician) can pull the plug at the source whenever he feels like by not recording. It’s the 3D lego printer that is scarce, not the legos themselves.

Now you could make an argument that it is easy now for anyone to make an album and share it on the web, with the result that there are more Lou Reeds than ever. There’s probably a lot of truth to that. I find stuff floating around for free on Soundcloud or Bandcamp all the time that are as good as any album I used to have to pay $10.00 for. But that’s got nothing to do with piracy. More people (or perhaps someday machines) being capable of providing quality music means we don’t pay as much for quality music lowers the value of music. But saying piracy makes music less scarce is like saying slavery makes labor less scarce. It’s as scarce as it has always been, you’re simply not paying for it.

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
‘End of Scarcity’ — that phrase alone, in a world of astronomical waste, unevenly distributed wealth, and ever shrinking natural resources — scares the bejebus out of me. I can just imagine a mountain of plastic lego blocks where the 3-D printer jammed, or the color was off, and people throw them out and print batches of these until they ‘get it right’. And wtf: “Our laws and ethics already fail to match up with our behaviors” does this mean? How is he proposing we “fix” them? That there’s no personal responsibility or ability to choose better or political system capable of updating laws — that the end of scarcity is the goal, regardless? Is he giving up and saying “do whatever feels good”? That’s end times talk, and I refuse to buy into that thinking. Long live the Republic!

5 months ago
Jason Paul
Here’s an interesting response to Emily and David by another blogger. http://www.jonathancoulton.com/2012/06/20/emily-and-david/
Really it’s about the end of scarcity in all things. Music happens to be at the vanguard.

5 months ago
Jason Paul
I wrote up a response to the Trichordist on my own blog: http://www.jasonpaul.net/response-to-the-trichordist-artists-for-an-ethical-int…

@gretchen I hear you that it does come down to the artist not getting paid because of consumer decisions. When I do buy downloads (which admittedly is rare) I actually do prefer to buy them directly from artists websites. My greater point/hope is that this streaming thing must be profitable, even if the rates need to change, because this really seems like best way to eliminate piracy as a real threat and bring the paying consumers back.

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
And for the record, I struggle with these ‘incentives’ vs. better choices as much as anyone. I have a large cd collection, consisting mostly of used cds (over 4000). Meaning, the artists didn’t get a penny from me, even though I am legally entitled to enjoy their music as much as I want. Originally I traded cds as a low cost way to ‘discover’ — prior to streaming, it was a great way to reduce risk. Keep the ones you like, trade the ones you don’t out. Now, I’m seriously questioning if I should stop because there’s absolutely no benefit to the artists I “love”…it’s a hard habit to break, so I understand completely about ‘incentives’ and having to really stop and think about what I’m doing.

5 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
JP, I think you’re sidestepping exactly the most important issues he raises. The subtext is musicians cannot make a living at making music anymore, because consumers are being encouraged to take part in a system that makes it impossible. So, are you, as the consumer, going to make a conscious choice — beyond the per item economics — to support what you claim to love? Lowrey makes a case that the overall cost to each individual consumer is not very significant compared to other spending choices. So saying you’re going to stream instead of download or buy a cd *because it makes sense for you on a per item basis* is a bit of a cop out, and ignoring the larger implications of each small choice.

I agree with your point about discovering music via streaming. I would suggest if you love a particular artist, buy their music too. Don’t wait for “stronger incentives”…

5 months ago
Jason Paul
@geemarcus I read that. It’s certainly impassioned. Made me think about this whole music economy thing. I almost (almost) was won over to the side of paying per download. But I just can’t agree on one key point. Discovery. Rdio is pretty much the reason I get to discover new music all the time. I would be pretty pissed if I kept putting money in the iTunes slot machine and it kept turning up duds. Perhaps if there was a stronger link/incentive to translate that discovery into hard download sales on the part of Rdio the circle would actually complete itself. Never mind that when I discover a band that I love it’s almost a given that I’m going to fork over 20-50 bucks to go see them play live (somehow that’s not relevant??). As it stands I see no need to actually purchase downloads. As long as the streaming distribution channel continues to exist and I can always plug into it via Rdio or whatever else I won’t be paying for downloads. I do think the artists need to see their fair share from streaming and it’s pretty mysterious what the numbers are right now. But to Trichordists main point on which I do agree, it’s a shame that there are Google ads all over pirating websites. The fact that big money is being made off of music by some very big companies and not a penny goes into the artists pocket from these search results and ad sales is pretty sad. I think Rdio and Spotify are really the best chances we’ve got right now on changing the “unethical” behavior of the kids these days.

5 months ago
geemarcus
This thing is all over the interwebs:

http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/letter-to-emily-white-at-npr-all…

6 months ago
Jason Paul
Anyone familiar with Amazingtunes.com? I didn’t know about it http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57445778-93/amazing-media-poised-to-lead-the-n…
That seems to relate

6 months ago
One Mighty Mike
Amen @Chloe below me. Well said I agree completely.

6 months ago
Chloe O’Hearn
So here’s what this streaming price index example is totally not getting http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/streaming-price-index-123111/#co… – if I like your music on a level equivalent to wanting to purchase the cd back in old school days, I’m going to stream it hundreds of times, many of those times will be around my friends who might also like it and go check it out themselves. and if you happen to be playing in a venue near me, I’m going to buy a ticket and come see you live. If I only stream your song once, it’s because I didn’t like it and wouldn’t have bought it anyways so you’re lucky you even got $00.005 for my listen. For me, streaming is like listening to the radio and buying the album all rolled up in one significantly more portable and customizable package and I think if you really do the math in a more logical way, it works out comparable to old school models and allows indie artists more exposure, more plays, and better crowds at their live shows because they aren’t dependent on mainstream radio for exposure. Pay per play seems fair to me, especially when I think back on what a bummer it was to pay $14 for a cd and turns out it completely sucks and I end up never playing it. Break it down into simple math: the more I like it X the more I play it = more $ for the artist.

6 months ago
Jason Paul
great find @maudeman. This one was fun http://evolver.fm/2012/05/31/video-daniel-ek-and-sean-parker-discuss-spotify-it…
The Spotify spin is incredibly positive

6 months ago
maudeman ‏
These guys do a great job of covering the new on digital music and apps.
http://evolver.fm/about/

6 months ago
Jason Paul
Having let that stew for a few days…seems like that guy from the previous posts’ article is really skeptical about streaming music—before the ball has really gotten rolling. He posed some worst case scenarios such as pirate versions of Rdio and Spotify. That would really be a shame. But I’m more of an optimist. Let’s assume that streaming music via Rdio or Spotify is not a bad thing. If you look at the success of iTunes, people actually don’t mind paying. What are the economics of this thing if Rdio becomes the equivalent of your cable tv provider? I actually wouldn’t mind paying a little more for Rdio if that extra was going into the pockets of Artists. At the heart of the problem, artists don’t seem to get paid for their music. That’s a big problem. But there’s money here. Perhaps a mathematician could work out some ideal calculation.

6 months ago
Jason Paul
He’s going after Rdio: http://thecynicalmusician.com/2012/05/rdios-stab-at-some-artist-love-and-why-it…

But going back to the previous article, I think he was spot on about iTunes. I dislike iTunes for different reasons, but I thought he was spot on in his assessment. iTunes has no “skin in the game” and thus is ultimately bad for artists. Regarding streaming though…his skepticism seems predicated very much on the returns of the present. I think we need more data to really determine if the streaming business model is a bust. For instance, how many customers constitues a functioning music market and how many customers are actually subscribed to Rdio and Spotify etc? I suspect there are still relatively few paying streaming customers. If streamers constituted the norm/majority…wouldn’t that be enough to run a functioning music business?

6 months ago
Nohbdy
One thing that bugs me about arguments like that, while its very well put together and he makes several points about how filesharing of music is bad, is who are these people that are saying its good? I haven’t read an article, at least not within the past 10 years, arguing for music filesharing. I thought it was and acknowledged fact, since it has been illegal for a while now. His msin contention with google, amaxon, etc. is that they are able to profit, through ad hosting, on these illegal download sites, but isn’t the problem the offending site and the people willing to go through google (or whoever) to place an ad there?

Anyway I guess my point is that to me it seems that the anger is misplaced as not all filesharing is wrong, I mean hell if you think about it emailig a file is filesharing, and the focus should be on the ones that are sharing the files that aren’t allowed and not the process itself. I know some of those sites are doing nothing but illegal hosting and I’m not defending those, because I do believe some are culpable, but some are used for many other purposes like sharing freeware and or user modified files for games (I know there’s issues here to, but that’s another argument).

6 months ago
Matt L
Also on that same site they list a streaming price index. Its hard to see how they came up with the numbers since they don’t give any sources, but it makes sense.
http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/streaming-price-index-123111/

Very interesting website.

6 months ago
Matt L
Back in the 70’s I used to have to follow my mom into the data center she worked at on Saturdays sometimes. I have fond memories of making paper airplanes out of the punch cards and throwing them at people.

6 months ago
Jason Paul
@Unhillbilly, Thanks for sharing that article. That truly blew my mind (and seriously has jeopardized my work day!)
He doesn’t seem to go on the attack against music streaming services, looks like he sees some hope there. It’s so dirty, that bit about major advertisers ads showing up on sites like Pirate Bay. The money is there, but artists just aren’t getting it.

6 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
true. but Dave can’t outgeek me. because I’ve had one of these:
http://tinyurl.com/belllabscardiac

6 months ago
Matt L
Unhillbilly-

Thank you! That is the most eye-opening, comprehensive, and lengthy article I have read regarding the digital music world as we know it today. I always thought David Lowery was pretty literate from the music he put out, but its interesting to see just how well he covers the topic. Your link is broken for me so I thought I’d try my hand at posting it again:
http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/meet-the-new-boss-worse-than-the…

6 months ago
unhillbilly 
Provocative rant from David Lowery.
http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/meet-the-new-boss-worse-than-the…

A small excerpt from a comment by Miss Lady Keir of DEEElite:

” all the fake artist sites set up by Facebook have directly halted the traffic to our own personal sites which is makes it increasingly difficult to maintain for lack of funds. I never started a Deeelite site on Facebook or any other site – but there they are- vapid and unmaintained except by a random fan who stumbles across the site and can’t tell the difference.

6 months ago
Jason Paul
I wish I could still see which songs were in what playlists. I really miss that feature. They paired this down too much!

6 months ago
Nohbdy
A pretty good article frome the Austin Chronicle:
http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2012-05-18/pennies-from-heaven/

6 months ago
One Mighty Mike
Scheduled maintenance this saturday night. NOW WHAT!

6 months ago
Nohbdy
I use lastfm for recommendations. They use results are usually much better than Rdio’s broken recommendation engine ever was. Also pandora can be useful.

6 months ago
Jason Paul
It’s taken me this long to realize that Recommendations is gone. It’s such a dry year for music IMO that I could really use some recommendations. Social recommendations are great, but I kinda like it when the robot thinks for me too.

6 months ago
Matt Marine
I’m thinking this might be nice, a way to import playlists from other services – http://blog.rdio.com/us/2012/05/developer-app-respin.html (haven’t tried it yet though)

6 months ago
Michael Jandron
Anyone else notice that rdio seems to promote people you’re following in the album and playlist recent activity list? Meaning all the people I’m following who have listened to the album at some point in time are listed first, followed by people I don’t follow that have listened recently. This is fine, but it only shows like what 15 (?) recent listeners, so for people like me who follow a lot of people it makes it that much harder to find new people to follow if the entire thing is filled with people I follow anyway. I like to see who is listening that I DON’T know. /mixed feelings

I also wish my heavy rotation would show a lot more albums too, like it does when I view my networks HR. It’s cool to browse 100 or so albums. I need to go full screen just to see my 12 albums in HR. I wish it would just wrap around. Maybe I’ll compile some suggestions for the rdio team.

7 months ago
Jason Paul
I still don’t get why everyone on the street defaults to Spotify as the premiere music service. I haven’t kept up with it…what’s the story? Is Spotify better than Rdio and I’m just not seeing something?

7 months ago
maudeman ‏
New Spotify iPad app available today.

7 months ago
Jason Paul
Here’s an interesting post about how SoundCloud CEO says sound will bigger than video. I’m inclined to agree. I shy away from consuming video all the time because I just don’t have the time. Sound is easy cause it can go in the background.
http://mashable.com/2012/05/04/soundcloud-alexander-ljung-mashable-connect/

7 months ago
Jason Paul
Matt L–
what releases are being withheld? Guess I’m so much into Rdio that if it doesn’t filter through I’m just plain missing them.

7 months ago
Matt L
JP-
I find myself digging much more from 2011 over 2012 so far. That is probably just because we are only 4 months in though.
Do you think it may be a trend of releases not being available on streaming services or maybe bands are just waiting to see if the Mayans were right before bothering with something worthwhile?

7 months ago
Matt L
Crompsy-

That’s interesting about the UK launch. I wonder if BC has tried it yet? Also, did you read the comments to that article? Looks like other countries outside of NA are quite unhappy with the available selection. The complaints seem worse than what we are seeing here, but hard to judge.
I wonder if France and UK was a “soft launch” because they are still working on getting rights. That would explain the lack of hype about it.

Well that and the fact that Rdio has no PR to speak of.

7 months ago
Jason Paul
I know this is the state of digital music and not the state of music…but the music releases were a lot better last year IMO

7 months ago
David Crompton
Rdio quietly launched in France and the UK… http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/2/2994991/rdio-uk-france-launch

7 months ago
gretchen ∞♫
“expand…ubiquity”

Is that like “totally unique”?

7 months ago
Matt Marine
This was really the big Spotify news today? http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/18/spotify-details-new-global-partnership-with-co…

8 months ago
…creatingmischief…
Me too, Jason. Me too.

8 months ago
Jason Paul
I miss being able to click on a track and see how many playlists it was in…I think they paired this down too much

3 thoughts on “The State of Digital Music: The Rdio Conversations”

  1. Great post and comments!

    Right. So… Is Rdio the Future of Music?

    The problem with these sorts of “x is the future of y” discussions, particularly where technology is concerned, is that x always changes the nature of y. Because of this, you can never quite arrive at point y.

    I see Rdio and it’s ilk bumping into a few issues shortly that run along these lines:

    1) The closer these services get to delivering on the promise of offering “almost everything” in the world of music, the more they will underscore what isn’t offered. Put another way, how much music needs to be available to make up for the fact that what you want to hear right now isn’t?

    2) Part of the appeal of these services lies in the social aspect, which presently is built on the enthusiasm of early adopters and music nerds. The tone and quality of the social interaction will change as more users sign on. Will Rdio still be compelling?

    3) Rdio is presently a novel way of trying to monetize music in a time where monetizing music is difficult. It’s an experiment that is occurring concurrently with other experiments at trying to resuscitate the monetization of music. A verdict will be reached. Recent high profile releases by Coldplay, Black Keys, Tom Waits — to name a few — are not present on Rdio. Presumably this is because posting on streaming services is viewed as possibly undermining the success of other channels, both experimental and traditional. Is this the start of a verdict being reached? Will this assessment be shared by others?

    Just a few thoughts.

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