The State of Digital Music: The Rdio Conversations

maudeman
“Don’t Believe Facebook, Spotify’s The Only Open Graph Music App Winning”: http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/08/music-app-stats/

At the end of last week, stats were revealed showing that MOG was the fastest growing music service on Facebook:

http://evolver.fm/2011/11/01/mog-grows-fastest-among-facebooks-on-demand-music-…

The only problem was, the numbers were in percentages.

And when you go from one to two, that’s a 100% increase. Whereas when you go from 1000 to 1100, that’s only a 10% increase.

The devil is in the details. And the story, as told in the TechCrunch article linked first, is that Spotify is killing its competitors on Facebook.

Spotify has 2.4 million daily users and 7.4 million monthly users.

MOG has 10,000 daily users and 170,000 monthly users.

Rdio has 4,000 daily users and 60,000 monthly users, but just 6.6% of its users return each day, as opposed to 32% at Spotify.

–from Bob Lefsetz newsletter, yesterday (11/7)
1 week ago

PDH Loves Wine, Women & Song
MOG did not do anything for me when I tried it. Spotify even less. Wonder how many of Spotify’s numbers are from people who wondered what the hype is about, gave it a spin, and haven’t used it since? Count me in…
1 week ago

ultra // dave
@Gretch – I agree with you on price. I don’t think Rdio will increase it’s subscription rate since it’s priced competitively. $20/mo really isn’t a whole lot for what you get, but that’s where I’m at since I’m paying for both Rdio and Spotify. They both have their strengths, and I radiate to each one of these greatly.
1 week ago

Jason Paul
I’m still curious as to why Rdio seems so timid on the marketing front. Unless there’s some big secret that there’s going to be an aggressive push when ‘the time is right.’ The applications they’ve developed are state of the art…so I have a hard time believing they don’t have money to invest to compete with Spotify in awareness. I think it would do Rdio well to have their own Sean Parker running game all the time. As far as I can tell Rdio is just a faceless thing that we all like a whole lot but know virtually nothing of the inner workings of their business.
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1 week ago

GrETcHEn
LU, those are some great ideas. I can’t forecast an answer to the smaller market share question, but there always seems to be room for niche players if they are well focused and execute sufficiently well. Rdio has some hooks too — users build much of the content (reviews, playlists), and those are not portable.

I would love to see Rdio and eMusic get together. I think they’d complement each other beautifully. Such a combo would yield a full set of features heavy duty music fans want.

Finally, I’ll put it out there: I’d pay more, even without anything changing. I think $10 is ridiculously cheap, especially stacked up against my cable tv and cellular phone usage to cost ratio. Even if it doubled, I’d be coming out way ahead as I’ve nearly eliminated all music purchases in other formats — and I was spending in the $100 /mo range on cds until very recently.
1 week ago

Biker Chick
Spotify is probably going to be my best bet in the UK. 🙁

1 week ago

Lacey Underall
I disagree with the premise that just because Spotify grew a ton more users than Rdio that spells the end for Rdio.

You don’t have to be #1 in market share to have a successful product. The attraction of Rdio for many of us it that we DON’T have to use Facebook, thus Rdio gets less of a Facebook push.

The thing with MOG to me is that while their are some flaws in their model, there are also some strengths. I think they are really targeted and somewhat successful in pushing the tech envelope and bringing something different. Rdio has the social stuff.

There’s really nothing Spotify offers to me other than everyone is on it. Which is of great appeal for the 80% of non hard-core, non-techy music fans who just wanna hear some tunes and have some stuff to share on Facebook and don’t think too much about this stuff. But I think it’s tough to be successful long-term just by being the status quo. Especially when Facebook could pull the plug at any time and then Spotify would be nothing.

The question for Rdio and Mog is… Is that remaining 20% of listeners enough to be viable? And how much of that 20% can they get? I think maybe someone should try to position themselves a niche product for music fans. It would be also be a way for musicians to turn their plays into money.

Add some exclusive content, have musicians come in and make playlists with comments on why they like the songs, give the 859th listener (or other random number) free merch, add some sort of “game”-like content (like designing quilts with the album covers), come up with a random playlist topic and have users submit their 10 song playlists and give the best one some prize. Take songs from random user bands and pick the best ones, make a playlist, and let Rdio users download it for free.

Lots of things Rdio could do to take advantage of the fact that this is where music fans go to talk and have fun with music. As opposed to facebook which is where regular people go to talk about all sorts of random (and annoying) crap of which some of tiny percentage might happen to be music.
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
LU, I think I was in the minority, but I liked many of MOG’s player <-> playlist features. They really thought outside the box there. I think they’ve phased most of them out in the new UI though.

I found theMOG “social” — it’s under Settings which takes one back to the old UI. Okaaay…how is that better than Rdio’s UI, or features? A bunch of us tried MOG for several months, and preferred Rdio, using them side-by-side for a while. Some of it would be peer pressure obviously (Lala people really wanted to stick together), but I think there was also overwhelming consensus as a group that Rdio was superior.

Getting back to the state of streaming, and the Techcrunch article, the whole FB peer pressure thing is the most salient point here, I think. There was optimism expressed in this discussion that the Facebook integration would help Rdio. I agree with the Techcrunch author that the exact opposite has happened. 🙁
1 week ago

Lacey Underall
I always thought MOG’s techiness was pretty slick when I was on it. It was clearly a priority for them. The problem was, none of it worked.

They had caching fairly early on, and their app was *in theory* a lot nicer than Rhapsody’s at the time. But it would crash constantly, and their follow up on fixing known bugs was awful.

Rather than wait until things were ready, they like to roll out their exciting new toys before everyone else. Which actually, I’m okay with as a philosophy, because I like playing with cool stuff even if it’s not ready-for-primetime and tend to be an early adopter. But not with music, man. I don’t mess around with anything that might prevent me from playing music for hours at a time.nd yeah, their “social” and music discovery stuff was non-existent.
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
@CAW (and anyone else who can clarify): the new GUI is fine. 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.

However, the “discovery” is pretty limited:
– “all new releases” only ~50 titles, the usual highly promoted suspects. Why not show everything?
– “just for you” all titles I’m very familiar with. It’s a good list for things I’d want to hear again — seems zoned in on my tastes. But no discovery here.
– “Editor’s Picks” ugh! boring. Rdio is beating the pants off them with their new monthly playlist (which is pretty awesome, check it out, Spotify has awesome editors lists too — tho’ eMusic has ’em all beat with those wonderful guest editorials+lists)
– “tops” same boring poo that floats to the “top” everywhere including Rdio

On the Techcrunch article, again someone raves about another site while dismissing Rdio even though Rdio is better at exactly what he’s talking about! He doesn’t give point by point examples, so I have no idea where this is coming from:

“I’m not really surprised at Rdio… If you’ve ever tried their app or web-service… it’s clunky and user unfriendly. They really did make a huge effort to incorporate the social aspects of the application, and music discovery… It just was bland.

Yes. I am a MOG fanboy, but with good reason. The heart of MOG is their music discovery; which is second to none. I’ve found a ton of new bands simply because of the service. It’s an awesome feeling when you find a ‘new’ band that fits snugly in your genre. MOG also has a great community…”

I totally agree Rdio’s UI needs an overall. I experience a lot of Flash gliches, and I agree it’s clunky. The design is boring. But the *features* — and especially the way they all dovetail into discovery + social (are those two sides of the same coin? for me yes) are what make it better for me, and worth putting up with the technical difficulties.

And where the hell is “community” on MOG? I can’t find it.
1 week ago

Nohbdy
@fangoguagua (dude we gotta come up with a short version of that):
If you want to load just one song the do it from that songs review page (or any page that list just the song, click anywhere the song title is blue and it will take you there)
Here’s an example: http://www.rdio.com/#/artist/The_Apex_Theory/album/Topsy-Turvy/track/Mucus_Shif…

Also check out the help page for some other tips:
http://help.rdio.com/customer/portal/articles/59003-secret-hidden-features

Can’t help you on rhapsody, but as a guess most of these subscription service keep your profile (at least for a little while) in case you decide to come back. I think rdio you actually have to request the account be deleted. I could be wrong others might know more.
1 week ago

CAW a.k.a. The Aquatic Ape
I’ll second that, U.N. I checked out “the new MOG” the other day and was QUITE impressed by their new set-up. It’s a shadow of the place we were all kickin’ the tires on eighteen months ago, but the new GUI is really slick!
1 week ago

unhillbilly
@BC re: MOG .. They’ve made a fairly slick player app that apes Spotify. #ttbowtbw and all that.
@gReTCh re: Spotify. Amen. If you don’t bring your social with you from the mono-culture, the barrier to fun and enlightenment is enormous.
1 week ago

fangoguagua
Another question while I’m at it. Anyone know about what happens to an account when you leave Rhapsody? I got the same free MOG notice too and my account there is the same as it was, not that I really care. But I have quite a few playlists to rebuild from Rhapsody.
1 week ago

Jarrod Zickefoose
First, to John, thanks for hosting this salon.

@tod: The Roku search is great, but I am a browser by nature. I never know what I am looking for until I find it.
1 week ago

Jarrod Zickefoose
@gee: I agree and only use Grooveshark when I can’t find something here. In addition to it being a little sketchy, I also just don’t like the interface. It’s cumbersome, especially when it comes to compiling complete albums.

@gretchen: I am still free at this point. Last month it seemed like I could get away with it until I feel asleep listening to a piano compilation with like a bazillion tracks. It must have been playing music until 4 a.m. The next day I had like two songs left. After Rdio refreshed me this month, though, I find that my free allotment is running out way, way, way faster. It will likely be depleted by the end of the week, at which point I will just go ahead and subscribe.
1 week ago

tod nelson
@j zickfse: I don’t want to hijack this thread, but try the search function on the Netflix app on Roku. WAY more movies show up than in browse. For example, you won’t find any Mystery Science Theater 3k movies in browse, but if you use search, dozens show up. You kind of need to know what you are looking for, but there is a much deeper library than shows up through browse.
1 week ago

fangoguagua
I am using Rdio free and my green “free music” bar just topped up the other day! There are no commercials – not sure how they do it/will do it. It seems like a fairly generous amount of music for casual listening. I am having to be quite judicious and doing more reading than listening an/or previewing on Amazon or iTunes before pressing play here. One question/frustration: If you press play on a song it adds the whole album or playlist, so now I have learned to click “play later” instead to load a single song. Is that just the way it works?
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
Yeah well, I’ve had a client scrape my last.fm page after I inadvertantly streamed — from home — while connected to their vpn. eek.

Anyway. What I don’t quite understand is joining Spotify because all your friends are on it, yet the interface has few features that build upon that. Spotify claims to have great social, but it’s really all Facebook. That’s the one lie I hear Spotify make over and over. People can’t tell the difference between Spotify and Facebook? I have *tried* to interact with people on Spotify, and found it incredibly difficult. Just finding someone there requires telling each other your usernames outside of Spotify, then using this arcane command string to hook up, plus some other steps to enable or whatever I can’t even remember it was so convoluted and stupid.
1 week ago

geemarcus
You know, I discovered grooveshark a couple of years ago, and my first thought was “is this shit legal?” A little research told me that it apparently is, but it was controversial enough that I wasn’t about to use it considering I do most of my streaming at work. I’m still wary of it. Similar thing…there’s an extention for google chrome which basically turns last.fm into a free streaming music site. Awesome, no? But I noticed that the streams originate from a .ru url and I uninstalled that. Again…streaming at work. I don’t think you can get in trouble for streaming…but still.
1 week ago

GrETcHEn
j zickfse, are you using the Rdio free account as well? If you prefer to not say, no problem. Just curious how it measures up.
1 week ago

Jarrod Zickefoose
I would like to echo tod’s comments. The Roku is super easy to use and worth every penny. I use it for everything on my TV, though I have never been a big TV guy. Netflix and Starz offer a deep library of movies, there are a few premium channels that are reasonably priced with more coming all the time, and there is also a free news channel. Roku does indeed have Amazon Prime. Pandora. That’s all out of the box. The only thing I will say is that after about two weeks, I found myself browsing for Netflix movies online because you see the same movies over and over and over on the Roku. That being said, I would never give it up. It quickly became an integral part of the household.

Also, Spotify is really bad. I still use Grooveshark because there are things that you can only find there, but aside from that the vast majority of my music streaming has migrated here. Spotify never engaged me at all. The library is too small, and the ads on the free version are like having a glass of water thrown on you out of the blue every 10 minutes or so.
1 week ago

tod nelson
@Gee Marcus: Roku streams Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu plus (among others). It’s a pretty amazing device for the cost and shockingly easy to set up and use. I was kinda blown away. The rdio app interface is great. Def. something the folks at Rdio do well.
1 week ago

geemarcus
Ooh, rdio may be the thing that tips me over into getting a roku…my stupid tivo is getting old. I dropped Netflix (which the tivo streamed) but I’ve got amazon prime (which it doesn’t, but I’ll bet the roku does…)

Of my 150 odd fb friends only two are using spotify (including one in England who’s been using it for quite some time)…so I’m not seeing the huge advantage others seem to be.
1 week ago

Biker Chick
Got an email from MOG today.. telling me they want me back and now it is FREE!
yea, no thanks.
1 week ago

tod nelson
It’s interesting that in the comment section of that article you posted, Jason, Rdio is getting the majority of the positive feedback. Most posters clearly regard Rdio as a far superior product to Spotify.

I’ve noted a marked up-tick of non-Rdio people on Facebook listening to my Rdio feed–they must now be able to listen without joining Rdio? FB launched without cross platform listening, but it looks like that is changing.

Has anyone seen their Facebook Timeline yet? I can’t, but I know a few people who can and they all say it’s pretty danged amazing.

I’m starting to see a few more marketing appearances for Rdio. This weekend during a football game I saw a Walmart Xmas ad where a dad played Rdio over his mobile device–product placement! Also saw Rdio featured in a Sonos ad. And I bought a Roku box last week and the Rdio app is featured both in the marketing and on the device itself. Btw, the Roku box is amazing! It’s great to see and browse my Rdio collection and playlists over my home theater. There’s also a Mog app for Roku, but as yet no Spotify.
1 week ago

Jason Paul
Ok this is what we’ve been waiting for. “Don’t Believe Facebook, Spotify’s The Only Open Graph Music App Winning” http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/08/music-app-stats/
Contain your naseau. Rdio is getting absolutely killed in the Facebook world unless these stats are wrong. Guess we’re gonna have to stay niche which I don’t mind as long as it doesn’t go out of business. I reaaally don’t want to have to use Spotify. And I would miss all of you 😉
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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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