The State of Digital Music: The Rdio Conversations

David Crompton
Ouch.
4 days ago

unhillbilly
Yikes! STHoldings pulls 234 labels from Spotify, Rdio and Napster. http://goo.gl/fTkNm
4 days ago

GrETcHEn
For comparison’s sake, credit card companies impose a 2.5% surcharge. And you know how much money THEY make. So yes, Apple appears incredibly greedy in comparison. But the stipulation content providers *must* provide the same price no matter what, is the kicker. It means content providers must keep the price low outside the Apple system — meaning Apple is effectively controlling prices outside their ecosystem too — and likely cutting into already slim profits for some providers.

To summarize, because of the surcharge + stipulation about matching price:
– inside the Apple ecosystem, providers will have to sacrifice profit as a trade off for having Apple direct customers to them
– outside the Apple ecosystem, providers are forced to keep prices down, because they can’t risk losing potential new customers coming from within it (because they must offer the same price)

So the best thing we can do is get people to sign up outside iTunes, just like you did.
1 week ago

ultra // dave
@JP – i agree with your sentiments, but like all big companies, especially now, they need to sustain themselves amidst this tough economic environment, but 30% is pretty steep, unless you happen to come out w/a app targeted to millions and eveybody needs it (so they think – i.e; Angry Birds), and then all of sudden you have these overnight millionaires… who at that point in time don’t mind the % rate, however, there should be a price level since the larger % of apps released hardly render much revenue.

The capitalism in this country is more than less to be desired… but I won’t embellish on that comment.
1 week ago

Jason Paul
Times like this that I remember certain particulars I really dislike about Apple. Greedy bastards.
Edit Delete
1 week ago

Web Wires
From a technology stand point and I don’t know much about the specifics of this conversation, but in order to maintain the synchronization of your Apple ID between Apple and Rdio systems would require additional technical hurdles (if you update your apple id it still works on Rdio). I can see that adding extra costs for Rdio that they might not want to pass along to people who don’t care about the Apple ID thing. It can be a PIA to remember so many usernames and passwords.
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
@UD, been trying to check what the anticipated outcome was at the time of the announcement back in February. Haven’t figure out all the details, but looks like the impact was to the content provider’s revenue because of the surcharge within the Apple ecosystem. Seemed like Apple might also cut off a provider’s app if they tried to get around this:
“We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase …outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase,” Apple said at the time.” In other words, Apple would get their 30% (sheesh!!!) cut no matter what. So providers are forced to raise prices and potentially lose customers, or, give up part of their revenue to Apple to cover the 30%? I think that was the gist…
1 week ago

ultra // dave
@Gr – you can use the iPad/iPhone, etc… apps just fine w/out signing up with your Apple ID.

I think it’s basically targeted on new ignorance. i.e; I just got this new iPad and there’s an App for this thing called Rdio. I tried it and I like it, and for only $15/mo I can listen to whatever anytime!… that’s pretty much it. for the Veteran user pre-iPad – we all know and there’s no ?’s asked when you cancel and re-sign up.
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
@UD, I’m guessing that’s the controversial surcharge Apple announced it would levy a few months back. If anything, that seemed a lot bigger challenge to providers like Rdio than anything else. Somehow it was going to lock providers into the Apple system (I believe through the iPad/Pod/Phone apps), but then tack on a surcharge so customers would find subscribing to services outside the Apple ecosystem prohibitively expensive? I can’t recall the outcome…obviously, one can subscribe to Rdio outside of Apple. But does that mean she won’t be able to use the iPad app to stream Rdio? I dunno.
1 week ago

ultra // dave
@GrETcHEn – the Rdio rep that replied to me said that the monthly is $14.99 if you sign up with your Apple ID. I for one, would have no problem giving Apple an extra $5 if I got something good in return, but like you said – I don’t believe you get anything other than signing in with your Apple ID.

Maybe something will turn up that will merit the additional $5, but at the moment there doesn’t appear to be anything, so I’m not giving up an extra Honest Abe.
1 week ago

maudeman
@gr How can you miss me if I won’t even leave?
1 week ago

ultra // dave
on the MOG talk. i tried it on and took it off immediately when i found Rdio.
that place was a vortex of [email protected]
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
mm, you are taking me seriously!?…don’t you know I miss seeing you here? Now that’s the straight up truth, no kidding at all.

@UD, good god, is that an extra $5 per month or a one time fee? In any case, when I said I would pay more I sure didn’t mean handing money over to Apple for doing basically nothing.
1 week ago

ultra // dave
No. She probably signed up from her iPad or mobile device. Apple charges an additional $5 that Rdio (under agreement – so they say) is not to disclose. All she needs to do is cancel her sub under her Apple account and then resubscribe on the Rdio website for $10/mo. It happened to me and I asked and that’s the answer that I got. Simple, however, I’m sure there’s more to it.

edit: btw – It’s better to wait until your current sub expires before renewing on the Rdio website. I don’t think the sub will continue – I think it may run concurrent and then you lose the initial $15 you paid.
1 week ago

Jason Paul
I friend of mine just did the paid subscription and Rdio charged her $15/mo…they only charged me $10/mo including mobile…has something changed?
Edit Delete
1 week ago

geemarcus
I originally wanted to use MOG. I liked the UI better and my understanding at the time was that they had higher quality streams than rdio. But lucky for me it had issues streaming at my workplace…so I ended up here.
1 week ago

maudeman
You’re welcome!
1 week ago

Biker Chick
Yea! MOG still sucks! ok, I feel better now.
1 week ago

maudeman
@grETcHEn Not muckraking, just posting stats about user usage. I think people are curious, and none of the services seem very forthcoming with information.

I do indeed like Spotify (a lot) more as a music player; it’s lack of/dependence on Facebook for social features doesn’t bother me – I can still come here and other places – and I liked people here when I was on Lala, when I was on MOG (which still sucks) when I was listening here, and now that I listen there.
1 week ago

geemarcus
@Gretchen: I hope I wasn’t implying that it WASN’T OK to respond…just saying that I often wish I could do it more easily, not so much for recommendations but comments or links people post.
1 week ago

Jon Springer
It can’t possibly be that difficult to add a little notification thingy when someone comments on your playlist or responds to one of your reviews, can it? If they think it might interfere they could make it an opt-in feature. Get crackin, rdio!
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
yeah it would be nice to see more in the feed. And some account settings so you can choose what sort of things to see — and publish — to the feed. That would be nice too.

@gee, I think it’s ok not to respond. If I make a recommendation to someone, I never expect a response. Heck I don’t even expect someone to listen to it. I would never want to burden someone with that expectation. People’s lives are too busy, and maybe, they didn’t like it and don’t feel comfortable saying so. No worries. There’s so much good conversation going on all the time, and people are so participatory and responsive in many ways here, it doesn’t matter.
1 week ago

geemarcus
@Tod: I agree, I like the way that communication is always centered around music here. I’ve been on last.fm for years and never engaged with people there like I’ve been able to here. I’ve never been one to chat much on message boards.

BC and Rob, I agree with you both. I don’t know much about website development and I’m not sure how expensive implementing facebook-style integration would be.

I’m always looking for the “like” button here…but I was thinking last night that maybe it’s better we don’t have it. It’s too easy to hit the “like” button and I swear people do it even if they don’t follow your link or whatever; so in a way it’s good to make people actually leave a comment. OTOH sometimes here I don’t bother to say anything even if I “like” something, and could really use that button.
1 week ago

Biker Chick
@Rob – yea, that is a good idea to throw it into the feed.
1 week ago

skydivingrhino (rob)
BC, seems like they could at least post it in your Activity feed … but, actually, I’d like to see rdio migrate to inline, Facebook-style notifications for comments, recommendations, etc.
1 week ago

Biker Chick
Maybe they need some kind of notification when you receive a comment from a non-follower. Is that possible? Too difficult?
We all know to hit Reviews/Network to see who has been rambling while we have been away but if a non-follower comments on a playlist, you have no way of knowing and can go months before you realize.
1 week ago

tod nelson
I kind of like that in order to communicate on Rdio, you either have to share an album, artist or song or review a playlist. It keeps us from getting lazy and chatting away on message boards–keeps it centered on the music. Perfect case in point, this playlist/forum. An amazing discussion, plus a pretty kick ass playlist. I *don’t* like that you can’t contact/recommend something to someone who isn’t following you. There are a number of people whom I follow who don’t follow me that I’d like to invite to the general discussion, but can’t.
1 week ago

Ron Bronson
I don’t know why Rdio has prevented social features other than perhaps not wanting to invite inbox spam. Or believing that with Twitter/FB/Last.fm profiles available that you can talk elsewhere. I get that but…it’s another step and a lot of it happens in the moment. I like the organicness of the community here because it flies under the radar in a sense. It’s also fun, knowledgeable and eclectic. All good things in my book.
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
Sometimes they don’t look at comments. 🙁 It even took Joe a couple days to realize his “Ask me anything” list been flash mobbed over 100 times. Those pile ons are fun to do to strangers though, just to see how they’ll react.
1 week ago

CAW a.k.a. The Aquatic Ape
Well, you can always just post (maybe initially unwanted) stuff on their playlists. My non-sequitured Ty Webb quotingon Mr./Ms. Underalls’ site seven months ago, for instance, seemed to have softened the ground for her/his eventual public debut.
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
CAW that does indeed sound like a thing of beauty. For what it’s worth, when I cruise the New Release section, I hit ctrl+ a couple times, just so I can see the artwork bigger/better. Otherwise, it’s really painful trying to scan them quickly.

LU, go for it. And Fango, it’s just as difficult to try and make new friends outside of the ones you’ve already got. Why Rdio doesn’t allow us to contact someone we don’t mutually follow, I have no idea. The only way to get someone’s attention is to follow them, and hope they follow back. There’s no way to say “hey, I know we don’t share musical tastes, but I think your listens are really interesting anyway, why don’t you come join one of our blurbs and hang out?”

So we’ve had this moveable feast going for a while, hopefully people notice it’s ok to jump right in, no one needs an invitation.
1 week ago

CAW a.k.a. The Aquatic Ape
Fango/Popsy/et al., anybody who’s really prone to lament how artwork’s handled on rdio will really lament that the desktop app doesn’t do everything that the iPad app does (and why NOT, I can’t for the life of me say…). The landscape-screen that appears when the iPad get laid on its side is really a thing of beauty – as good as anybody has gotten a GUI for online listening IMHO.
1 week ago

fangoguagua
I agree, Lacey, if you don’t know anyone it’s hard to get started. If I hadn’t been hunting down and trying to keep track of LaLa-ers I don’t think I would have gotten back here. Also, even though the social and discovery here are great – it is really weird! I’m getting used to “reviewing playlists” as commenting in a thread elsewhere on the web, but not to have forums and not to be able to send messages is not really social and discovery friendly. Searchable forums that are separate from reviews might make both the reviews and threads better or at least more accessible. I’d like to see Rdio add these direct social features and not rely on Facebook. I’m not there.
1 week ago

Nohbdy
@LU: For me part of music discovery is finding people with musical tastes that are different than mine and discovering music through them, so why would I have an issue with my handle being shared or recommended to others?
As far as I’m concerned my profile (here and other places) is public domain, and I don’t put any info up that I wouldn’t be willing to share.

1 week ago

geemarcus
We don’t get to choose our followers…which felt kind of weird at first but I’ve gotten used to it…so I don’t see an issue with recommending people to follow.
1 week ago

Lacey Underall
I have an etiquette question.

I recommend Rdio to all my friends. But one thing I think we all agree on is Rdio’s strongest aspect is the social features. Which– if you don’t know anyone– it’ kind of hard to get going and see how cool it all is.

So would anyone here object, or is it considered an uncool invasion of privacy to recommend people (via email or something not like posting people’s handles on public website) for them to follow?

Pretty much everyone here is on my Rdio follow list and the reason I like Rdio so much. OTOH, you don’t really know me, and you definitely don’t know the people I bringing over. Matter of fact, I don’t even really know them. They’re just cool music people I’ve met on other sites. So I don’t know if people are comfortable with random stranger suddenly following them… though I guess that pretty much happen anyway.

1 week ago

fangoguagua
Gretchen, I completely agree with your album art comment – MOG’s improvement. This is a horse I have beat a few times with Pandora: “The “quilt” style display in most sections is terrific — I wish Rdio would get a clue and use more of its real estate for album art in the same way.”
Pandora has a fantastic iTunes-style album art cover flow on the iPod Touch but on the desktop on my 27″ computer screen the album art is truthfully even smaller than on the 2″ mobile screen! I think visual display is a way that streaming services could distinguish themselves and Rdio has perhaps an audience that would appreciate it more. I haven’t spent time there but I don’t really like the look of Spotify either. Everyone has lots of wasted space.
1 week ago

geemarcus
Just in response to the “Spotify is free” comment, I recently made a new friend at last.fm and suggested she check out rdio because the free version is ad free…but she’s actually paying for Spotify so that wasn’t a draw. I’m still trying to get people to check out rdio though.
1 week ago

Lacey Underall
I don’t have the answer to the niche thing either, but price is an important consideration.

Don’t forget that Spotify piles up Facebook users in part because you HAVE to have Facebook now to use it. And also Spotify and Facebook are free. So yeah, like someone said– how many Spotify users are likely to want to pay for it? There’s a huge portion of that base that are really Facebook users taking advantage of a “free” Facebook plugin. Gotta convert that to profit.

It’s like Apple. Not the iPhone or iPad or iPod but back when they were just doing Macs. They only had a niche market, but they were profitable because the people who liked Apple liked it so much they were willing to pay double the price compared to a PC so their profit margins were huge.

And yeah, at risk of being labelled an “indier than thou” music snob, I’d prefer Rdio stay small. Especially since there really isn’t a way to just share playlists with certain people or ignore crappy spam comments. The system relies entirely on the fact that everyone using Rdio is cool.

I actually think that is partly the reason why Spotify doesn’t do much on the social front. Partly it’s the technological work involved in not having a web-based app and central storage of certain things.

But also like Rdio, there’s no real security/spam filter. The only way you really have of protection you have is being able to not share URL not being able to comment on playlists at all. Thus you are somewhat sheltered from jerky strangers at the expense of being able to meet and make friends with cool strangers.
1 week ago

tod nelson
@CAW–I’d suffer the unwashed horde of 2 million users if it allowed Rdio to survive. I don’t think their current headcount will keep them alive for long. They have to grow, and they have to court the average music listener to do so. I think Tony brings up an interesting idea–I’d definitely pay more for this service. In a way I do, with an account here and Spotify. I only keep my Spotify account because of the higher fidelity (for parties and entertaining) and the early Butthole Surfer and Scratch Acid albums in their catalog.
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
except caves are fun.
1 week ago

Biker Chick
We have these caves here by where I live.. Called Laurel Caverns.
We used to run around in them when we were kids.
Getting lost and shouting trying to find one another… just reminds me of Spotify.
1 week ago

CC Longboards
Well put Tony.
1 week ago

Tony Liano
Agree, CAW. Here’s the question: Would you pay $20 per month? This would price out the frey and might reduce financial pressure for Rdio to scale “too wide”.
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
mm, you spotify-loving muckraker. Go back to your black as night UI hole over there and listen to some playlists through your Sonos or something.
1 week ago

Niish
Again CAW, I share the sentiment. However, this is still my preferred site at present. Bitter/Sweet.
1 week ago

geemarcus
CAW, I was having similar thoughts but trying not to be so cynical. Heh.
1 week ago

CAW a.k.a. The Aquatic Ape
Does anybody feel “If rdio become the most popular streaming-music service, then I will be finding a different streaming music service”? Really, I mean who out there expects the incipient horde that might come to rdio to make it “more popular” would make it better and funner to use? Remembering the average chain-letter, emo-ing free user of Lala days, I’m quite certain that an extra 2 or so million users per day around here would SERIOUSLY compromise rdio’s charms.
1 week ago

Marshall Preddy
I like Spotify, but I prefer Rdio. Only way I’d start using Spotify is if Rdio was acquired or ceased to exist. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but I’m pretty certain it well. There are too many players right now offering similar services. There will be a shakeout. And the smallest companies will be the first to be acquired or shoved out. Until that happens, though, I’m here with you guys.
1 week ago

Mark Ingraham
Wow – quite a read but well worth it. As a new user of Rdio I must say that I’m loving it, particularly the ability to explore and find new music through the “following” approach. I feel like a kid just discovering record stores again!
I do have one issue with Rdio – they don’t support Squeezebox. All of the other services seem to support Squeezebox – MOG, Spotify, Rhapsody – and it makes them a bit more appealing. If I could stream Rdio through my audio set-up via Squeezebox the world would be right.

BTW, if you are a Squeezebox user, there is a “feature request” page in the help center asking for feedback: http://help.rdio.com/customer/portal/questions/19013-feature-request-squeezebox…
1 week 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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