The State of Digital Music: The Rdio Conversations

Aroon I played with Spotify a bit this morning, and while I like some features, I’m not too impressed. I feel like it’s really missing the boat on social features. Aside from Facebook friends, how do I find new people, or communicate with anyone, get exposed to interesting new music, etc? Especially in comparison with Turntable.fm, which has introduced me to so much outstanding music in the past 3 weeks, while chatting with people about it in real-time, this just feels crippled and backwards. (You can’t even find new independent music through non-social features, as the charts and “What’s New” sections just show Top 40 and the new Limp Bizkit album.)

The selection doesn’t necessarily seem amazing compared to other services, either. They don’t have the new Washed Out, for example, which is the most hyped album of this week.

The free version is too crippled for daily use (10 hours of listening per month, plus visual ads and audio interruptions), and at $5 a month I think there’s better options. 4 months ago

CAW a.k.a. The Aquatic Ape I’ll second Jason’s praise, K Rom! Great stuff!

Lala folks may remember an episode a couple of years back when I let fly a pretty impassioned response to a now well-loved young guy who was at the time sort of a neophyte music-streamer’s public reference to the effect “my opinion may be less reliable than the Lala alpha-users” or something very self-deprecating. I was implicated as one of those “alpha users” then but not with contempt. My public response then was – and it remains now – that there ARE NO “alpha users,” however, and that these communities only get stronger with each person who’s prepared to speak with interest, animation and conviction about the music that excites them. Yeah, some of us may have a mature schtick, a writer’s knack, extremely pent-up expertise about rarified musics or whatever. These communites function to file down hyped-up egos, social malfeasance and bullshit provocation, though – worthless bullshitters get e-tar & feathered by the community in a way that’s obvious but subtle. On the other hand, though, there is conspicuous room and welcome for a myriad voices and there’s not a single user who doesn’t benefit from any user’s well-phrased/felt/observed take on a piece of music worth hearing.

Two years ago or whenever precisely that earlier episode was, I lamented the demise of a true American institution: the record store. This much later, “lament” seems a tame description – I verge on tearing my garments when I consider how my homes of Boston and New York City have turned into positively /shitty/ record towns. With apologies to the Amoeba towns and Princeton, though, what city isn’t now? Times have changed. And shopping on Amazon – no matter how steep the discount or easy the access to rare shit may get – hasn’t filled that void.

That said, the record-stores which I haunted daily for twenty-five years were the ultimate “alone together” experience: the best of them were some cramped (usually subterranean) hole jam-packed with albums and folks whose heads were all down reading liner-notes, scanning for scratches and dog-earred corners and crossing fingers that the out-of-print gem about which they’d read might finally be in the bins. When conversation figured, it was usually at the register with some miscreant Jack Black-wannabe. What we’re getting in rdio is SUPERIOR to the record-store in that respect, then: people’s heads aren’t down, they’re UP! Whether it’s done with dialogue, monologue or hydra-headed banter, there’s a lot less secrets being kept about what music is truly special and it takes only the press of a button to see what all the fuss is about and if you’re one of the people whom that music really reaches. 4 months ago

Crippling Niles Ha ha! The day Bieber gets his hands on a shotgun, God help us all. 4 months ago

Anthony L ah this is discussion is useful and thought provoking. thanks for everyone’s input. i’ll continue to read and lurk 🙂 4 months ago

Biker Chick Suhweeeet! 🙂 4 months ago

K Rom @ BC One word: VPN. Okay, that’s actually three words, abbreviated. You won’t lose any of your streaming services. Here’s the service I use: http://overplay.net/r.php?i=4284654937 4 months ago

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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