I’ve been using Rdio for about six months. Since then, I can probably count on two hands the number of times that I’ve opened iTunes or Music.app on my iPhone. Rdio is a big deal.
After this much time using Rdio, I’m realizing that it’s changed my relationship with music.
New Mediums, New Contexts
The first music I ever bought was the Space Jam soundtrack on CD. My relationship with music at that point was to save up and buy a CD, and then listen to it a bajillion times. Occasionally, I’d record live radio to cassette tapes, jumping across the room to hit Record when a good song appeared on 107.7FM. My music was built around a few frequently-played albums, the radio, and a shoebox of homemade mix tapes.
Fast forward a few years, and I’m in college. We’ve got file-sharing in our dorm, and it’s this endless buffet of music. The result? I listened to a good amount of new music, but I didn’t listen to it often enough to build that same deep relationship I’d had with my CDs and mix tapes.
Once I got a job, I stopped file-sharing and started buying my music through iTunes. File-sharing always creeped me out, and iTunes was far simpler. I was back to enjoying an album all the way through.
Enter the Rdio
In 2012, I signed up for Rdio, and I haven’t looked back.
At first, I felt wary about building a music collection in someone else's cloud. I'd liked owning my mp3 files, and it was comforting to carry them with me. Once I started streaming music, though, I stopped caring about owning the files, and actually spent more time listening to and enjoying the music. To me, that’s an upgrade.
Here’s what’s changed for me:
- The border between what’s “in” and “out” of my music collection is very permeable.
- I don’t have to buy a big hard drive to enjoy Rdio - I just stream it.
- Thanks to the social features on Rdio, as well as their “New Music Tuesdays” posts, I’ve found a bunch of artists that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
- Sometimes, Rdio doesn’t have an artist - and in that case, I’m perfectly happy enjoying the ones that they do have, or digging into my clunky iTunes to find an album. Like I said, though: I’ve hardly ever gone back there.
- Album artwork is important to me again. iTunes’ Column Browser focused heavily on band names, but Rdio’s interface almost entirely focuses on album covers. I love that.
- There’s no “try-before-you-buy”, there’s just “listen”. That’s incredibly cool.
- With iTunes, I would often just buy the singles that I wanted. With Rdio, I’ve come to appreciate listening to an entire album again. That’s pretty rad.
I’ve found Rdio to be less about “what’s big on the charts” and more about finding the albums you really like and enjoying them repeatedly. As a result, the royalties that Rdio will pay out to artists will favor artists who have built long-lasting, enjoyable albums, instead of promoting the “new hits” that are often short-lived.
PS: Here's my favorite way to find new music on Rdio:
- Find an eclectic album that you love in your collection that isn’t likely to be a pop hit.
- Click the “Playlists” link in the top-right corner.
- See these playlists? They all contain at least one song from this album. The people who made the playlists probably have some similarly eclectic tastes to your own, and you’ll find some good stuff.
Or, you can find me on Rdio here.