The State of Digital Music: The Rdio Conversations

This page was pasted in on 12/5/2011

Jason Paul
hmm…I don’t think all Siloed apps are bad. Case and point I use the ipad to record music…it’s not possible to do that kind of stuff with web apps and I think we’re a long way off from being able to utilize web apps in such a way.
I use the Rdio desktop app…i never use the browser app even though I think it’s great. I’m an open web guy myself but the open web has it’s limitations. You’re right that many of the ‘apps’ they’re showcasing right now on Spotify are just adapted web functionaries. But that’s just about the path of least resistance. I think we could see more heavy duty apps taking advantage of the wealth of music available using the Spotify API…that’s really what it’s about. I’m not sure distributed music needs to be part of the open web in such an idealistic way
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7 hours ago

Lacey Underall
Yes. Fantastic. Can’t wait. Let’s cough up our privacy AND our cash and move off the cloud and back into a system of locally run, silo’ed apps.

I hope to wake up tomorrow and find out the whole last 20 years of free and open internet was just a bad dream. But I will still vote for net neutrality because I believe everyone should be able to nickel and dime me to death on the web except for the ISP provider that actually provides the hardware backbone to make it all possible.

PROGRESS!!!!
10 hours ago

Jason Paul
I think if the Spotify API is open enough we’re going to see some really incredible apps beyond what the ‘big boys’ are going to offer. I can even envision a market for paid apps if they’re good enough…will it go that far though? http://developer.spotify.com/en/spotify-apps-api/overview/
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12 hours ago

Jason Paul
Here’s an interview with the founder of Spotify from NPR: http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/12/04/143093962/spotify-is-good-for-the…
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12 hours ago

maudeman
MOG has/had widgets, and they still sucked. (Maybe if they had XML widgets . . .)
Having RS or Pitchfork open in a browser doesn’t let you play the song/album with a single click,
Facebook isn’t required for Spotify users who pay for streaming.
And I finally have (either in FB or just in Spotify), a continuously updated stream of friend listens, a la Lala.
Most of these “apps” are indeed content, but bringing it into my music player makes it easier to use or poke around. One click to see who is playing in town. One click for lyrics. One click for reviews.
My iphone and ipad are nice, but they rock because of the apps which quickly and without much or any effort bring me my papers and magazines and books and music without dealing with browsers or searches. Less than a week in, these apps/things seem to me to have great potential, and both their depth and breath will grow quickly.
1 day ago

Matt Marine
I’m trying to figure out why Rdio doesn’t get some of the users on this thread together and talk about what works and what could make the site better. I think every instance of what could make a great music site has been mentioned here.
1 day ago

Lacey Underall
What I don’t like about it is what you alluded to in your first two sentences. Some of these apps are just captured content.

These things don’t need to be linked to Spotify. Pitchfork and Rolling Stone have their own websites. So you can open a browser and have Pitchfork in one tab and RS in the other.

The more sophisticated approach is to just have XML widgets like how they used to do with RSS. Then I can open up a browser with a “dashboard” page and add whatever widgets I want. Like an mp3 player/catalog browser on the left, a chat space on the right, etc. The widgets could also be emailed, and users would easily be able to design their own dashboard/desktops.

Instead, we are being forced to use Spotify (and register for Facebook) in order to obtain something that should just be available to everyone. So while it may seem like Spotify is actually providing some cool functionality, it’s actually taking it away by promulgating a platform-tethered app model.

I’m not necessarily saying Spotify is evil or wrong for doing it. I just think users need to think bigger and get out of the whole “app” way of thinking and then content providers will follow.
1 day ago

GrETcHEn
@LU, I’m definitely sorting out my main objection (and discomfort) with Spotify: the “you will do it this way” approach. From having to install and use an application instead of a browser, to the forced march through Facebook for social. But, I’m thinking based on JP’s observations below, Spotify doesn’t owe any allegiance to FB. In fact, Spotify could very well suck up a big userbase from FB, then turn around and provide all sorts of alternatives. As a customer, I definitely appreciate having lots of choices. So if Spotify attracts developers to provide a rich array of add ons that allow members to tailor their music environment, I’d be willing to switch to that from a closed system like Rdio. Especially if Rdio falls behind on upgrades.

Like I said, keeping an open mind — cause, it’s my wallet that’s open too, and I want the best bang for the buck.
1 day ago

geemarcus
Thanks MM. I searched spotify for info and found very helpful instructions about where to find apps in spotify. They might have mentioned the part about it not being in the standard version yet.

The last.fm app is underwhelming to say the least. Hopefully they’re planning to integrate the social side of the site.

I did learn that Spotify doesn’t have Zenith Myth. Losers. 😛
1 day ago

maudeman
http://evolver.fm/2011/12/02/spotify-apps-slated-to-roll-out-next-week/

All 10 million users will have access next week, but you can download the preview version from the story above.
1 day ago

geemarcus
I don’t know what my problem is…but I’ve got no “apps” section in the left sidebar of Spotify. Just did a fresh install.
1 day ago

Jason Paul
I’m most interested in the Last.fm Spotify app beefing up. If it could see Last.fm playlists then we can kind of move around the streaming networking services a little more freely. Hell, if you could get an XML download of your Rdio playlists and data someone could make a Spotify app to allow import. But why would Rdio allow that?
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1 day ago

Jason Paul
Ironically Spotify’s core interface is still not conducive to the way I actually want to listen to music. A big part of that is just a design issue…I like the player controls on top not the bottom etc. On the flip side I actually trust the new App developers to create features that I would be very interested in using. Rdio doesn’t have this possibility within their deskptop app and there’s no indication to think they will. I’m actually ready to start looking into how to develop apps for the Spotify platform. I might still keep my personal music consumption on Rdio unless Spotify makes some fundamental UX design/functionality changes.
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1 day ago

Lacey Underall
Have to admit that the changes to Spotify are potential game changers.

But it’s still sort of puzzling to me. If I can socialize on Spotify, then I don’t really need Facebook. In fact, not needing facebook is the major reason I’m still on Rdio and in fact I dropped Spotify because of this.

In essence, by adding more social-like features they are challenging Facebook as much or more than other music services. But they’re giving Facebook a huge leg up by forcing me to sign up for it.

There doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason why Soundrop (or whatever) has to be a module/app/add-on within Spotify’s platform as opposed to Facebook (or Rdio). Everyone is trying to be sort of all-in-one. The technical aspects of this stuff are not particularly daunting, so its totally just a race for userbase.

1 day ago

GrETcHEn
I guess Soundrop is the place to start? geez louise, Soundrop’s logo looks almost exactly like Rdio’s. Honestly, that’s kind of obnoxious.

edit: that does look promising. I’m not so interested in the way the voting thing works in the current incarnation — I’m waiting to see more equitable and interesting sharing methods than yet another variation on a popularity contest. But I can foresee a lot more ways to interact coming over there. Something to keep an eye on (and open mind about).
1 day ago

maudeman
Yes I know what you mean. Which is why I post here.
1 day ago

GrETcHEn
Well yeah, but you know what I mean. The direct interaction is what I like so much. MM, I totally know what you mean that Rdio hasn’t done many UI upgrades in 18 months. That is disappointing. They could have expanded the feed to include listens a la FB last year, for example.

Thanks for the heads up on the Spotify updates…Napster rolled over to Rhapsody this week too, so I’ve got some catching up to do.
1 day ago

maudeman
If you are sitting at your computer listening to music, you are alone, whatever site you listen on. You can listen to music with friends now, (Soundrop), and lots of other things.
1 day ago

GrETcHEn
I do some fun things alone. But music discovery ain’t one of ’em. In fact, I like music discovery orgies, with lots and lots of people. Rdio, you den of iniquity!
1 day ago

maudeman
If you all were over there I could still make cameo appearances here.
These review/discussions here (and the people who post them) remain a plus for Rdio, but almost nothing else is. The 18 months we’ve been here have given us a larger art button, (great for Full Balconies and Plush bottoms), and some reworking of the still-not-sure-what-to-do-with-them collections. And the catalog is better than it was. The “discovery” gap closed this week.
1 day ago

fangoguagua
Please don’t say it’s time to Face the music!!!
I was just there and it scares me!
2 days ago

GrETcHEn
so if we were all over there, could you make a cameo appearance in a discussion like this? just asking.
2 days ago

maudeman
Cameo Alert!
Spotify got a whole lot better this week with its’ integrated apps, most of which are focused on music discovery. I’m just saying.
2 days ago

Jason Paul
@Lacey 100% agree it should be Rdio selling their own App marketplace. Their API is open and can be utilized to develop web apps (I’ve seen some good ones). For whatever reason web apps are not considered as sexy as closed apps (probably harder to marketize?). This again amounts to a failure to market by Rdio. @Brian suggested they’ve already switched focus and are putting their resources towards Vdio.

I’ve had some ideas where I thought I could use Rdio’s API to build web/mobile apps. Ironically they’d be more accessible on the open web. But they might have a better chance of being noticed if they were built specifically for the Spotify ‘platform’ (I’m still a bit stunned that Spotify is now suddenly a platform).

@geemarcus that seems like such necessary idea…that must exist. Or should at least be able to get built with minimal difficulty
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4 days ago

geemarcus
I’ve got a question for the app/plugin savvy out there. There’s a chrome extension that basically turns last.fm into a full streaming music website. This extension (last time I checked) streams music from a .ru website and as such I don’t expect artists/labels are getting paid for it so I’m not using it. But could a similar plugin be created that allows you to login to your rdio account and stream from rdio through last.fm?

Why do I want this? Because while rdio has many fine features the music managment/collection has a long way to go, and last.fm has features that I would happily take advantage of if I could actually stream anything I wanted there.
4 days ago

Lacey Underall
Rdio was the one that should really have gone for the (ugh) “app platform” approach. Because they are already web-based, and they are set up in a way that encourages active listening. By that I mean, that when you are listening to stuff on Rdio, you are likely to be typing “reviews” and checking out what other people are doing and exploring other music

Whereas I feel like Spotify is more just iTunes with a bunch more songs added. It’s a way to play music, but you’ll be playing that music while doing other things.

Therefore, Spotify should be the one that says “Hey, while you’re listening to this song, here’s a bunch of other awesome stuff you can be seeing/doing.” And Spotify should be the “app” that gets integrated into other platforms. Like “Hey, while you’re browsing the web or whatever, here’s a little plug-in so you can play songs from Spotify.” Or “Hey, tell your facebook friends what you were listening to.”
4 days ago

Jason Paul
I think my loyalties to Netflix are waning…I could really dig a more participatory movie watching experience like we’ve got on Rdio. Judging by how little press Vdio’s got so far though…the fellas in charge of Rdio and Vdio desperately need some marketing and PR muscle so they don’t fail just for not publicising their products well
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4 days ago

Jason Paul
shite…I’d never heard of Vdio. Dunno how I missed that. Only available in the UK though…taking a page from Spotify heh. The buzz is just not with Rdio so even if they are planning something amazing the tech press just doesn’t care to scoop it.
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4 days ago

Brian Goddard
Exactly, and it’s about time someone owned karaoke. That’ll be a killer.

I agree that iTunes should have done this, but of course Apple is always more inclined to be closed than open.

I wonder what it’ll take for Rdio to keep up with this, and how much of their time is focused now on Vdio. The one thing they’ve still got going on here is Community, but my sense is that kinda just happened rather than something they planned for.
4 days ago

Jason Paul
haha.. I’m so not ready to leave (maybe not ever ;-). I played around in the Spotify app beta…and truth be told I really liked the apps and their potential…but I still can’t stand the actualy Spotify interface. Professionally though…I see more possibility in Spotify…maybe I’ll have to become Bi-music subscriber. These things are deductible in my line of work anyway 😉
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4 days ago

CAW a.k.a. The Aquatic Ape
Jason, we’ll miss you once you fly the coop. When you get to The Other Side tell Turd and Maudeman that their respective cameos over here are a bit too frequent. ;>)
4 days ago

Jason Paul
and kareoke. Spotify is basically going to own kareoke.
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4 days ago

Jason Paul
@Brian I just tried out the Spotify app beta. I’m with you. This is such a big deal and a huge game changer. The lyrics app is nice. It made me think ‘why not a chords app’ and the lightbulb goes on and I realize that this thing is going to be HUGE. I think it’s only a matter of time before a chat/comment app comes out.

I love Rdio and still think it’s better right now. But as someone with an eye for development (at least conceptually) this Spotify app store represents a very compelling direction for digital music. What Spotify has done is opened possibilities. And I’m a sucker for that…

With LastFM integration you could probably keep up with all the friends you made on Rdio and now get recommedations.

Spotify has done what iTunes should have done/could have done. I’d like to hold out hope for Rdio apps but I don’t think it’s likely. However Rdio is not out of the game as far as utilizing their web app to encourage 3rd party app development. In a way I think it’s more attractive to developers to leverage browser apps as opposed to an entirely new native environment. However, Rdio is silent as all ways. So much potential but we have no idea what they’re going to do. If they’re going to compete. If they even can.
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4 days ago

Brian Goddard
Hmm, some of these “apps” do seem pretty interesting. I like how TuneWiki displays the lyrics in sync with the vocals. The last.fm recommendations fill a gap. Songkick is cool, but I think I find their mobile app more useful. I haven’t tried SoundDrop yet, but it looks like it’ll let you create collaborative listening rooms with Jelli-style voting for which song gets played next. I am surprised there’s still a chat/comment void though.
4 days ago

Jason Paul
love the shortlink. didn’t know you could do that.
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4 days ago

CAW a.k.a. The Aquatic Ape
Hate to disrupt the feng shui of this discourse, but just want to interject that anybody who was writing me off as /just/ a ranting paranoid a few weeks back must be sure to catch-up to the fresh news about the FTC cracking-down on Facebook. Here’s a link to the New York Times’ coverage this morning:

http://tinyurl.com/fuckerberg
4 days ago

Jason Paul
I think the word ‘App’ has severly been diluted thanks to Facebook ‘apps’. But unfortunately they are called Apps…I think we need a new word to differentiate what we used to call Software and Apps and whatever else these little add-ons are (Firefox does ok with calling them Add-ons).

Lacey…can you post a link for that Read? or is it a book?
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4 days ago

Lacey Underall
Those do not count as apps. Those are just bits of html code pushed to your PC that any browser can read. And Spotify just put a mini-browser in their software. Or probably they don’t even have a mini-browser and they are just using IE.

I’m constantly amazed by how many people pay $5.00 for iphone/Android apps that are essentially just web content you should (and used to be able to) get for free. And they think it’s great!

In fact, didn’t MS build this into Windows 98 over a decade ago and everyone complained about it?

All it does is turn Spotify into Songbird, which no one uses. Nonetheless, I’m sure this will prove tremendously popular and everyone will marvel at it.

Anyone ever read “The Future of the Internet–And How to Stop It?”
4 days ago

Jason Paul
Marshall I like the Rdio web app scenerio better. But unfortunately people are more comfortable in the silos of Facebook and Apple these days…Spotify is trying to be its own (and Rdio is a silo too…but one that makes more sense). The app framework Spotify is releasing probably resembles Facebook’s app framework more so than Apple’s. And I must say…Facebook apps can be pretty damned annoying and intrusive. But music as a focus/platform seems to be a really great basis for an app platform too.
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4 days ago

Marshall Preddy
The fact that Rdio is a web app means its already extensible than Spotify, and that apps can be built without Rdio’s permission. A good example is this Chrome extension that recommends songs using the Last.fm API.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/fmoejibmdnaipdcibhmpecmmjkoiidoc

To be clear, I think such web extensions are less friendly to casual users than what Spotify’s implemented. Ultimately, I think Rdio will have to survive as a niche offering for more knowledgeable and discerning social music customers. Whether it can be profitable as a niche service is up in the air. I sure hope so. But Spotify is intriguing enough to earn my business if Rdio goes down in flames.
4 days ago

tod nelson
Maybe Rdio will respond in kind by opening up their API for internal apps. Do we have any brilliant people around here who could take advantage of such a situation?
4 days ago

Jason Paul
good point tod. I think the advantage is in opening up their API to third party developers making apps that will run in Spotify. So essentially developers could build in the missing apps to give Spotify Rdio like chat/comment apps. This paradigm shift (which I didn’t expect) is actually kind of huge. Rdio actually does have an open API so you could build apps that use Rdio as well. But they are for external apps. No doubt incredibly cool, but also very different than actually running Apps inside your Rdio desktop/iOS apps.

 

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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