RIP Rdio
November 17, 2015 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Streaming service Rdio is filing for bankruptcy, and Pandora is set to buy its assets for $75 million. Never heard of Rdio? The service was a lesser-known competitor to the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, and did a lot of things right in a low-key way. Its userbase is savvy and fiercely loyal. The service is set to wind down over the next few weeks. The Atlantic: A Eulogy For Rdio. David Greenwald: What Spotify and the rest could learn from Rdio. The Verge: Streaming music has an economics problem.

Previously in deceased music services: Turntable.fm, This Is My Jam, Mog, and Lala (if you're old school). Meanwhile, recently-launched service Tidal has continuing problems.
posted by naju (110 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
When will Pandora's death knell ring?
posted by cyclotronboy at 12:31 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, Lala. Been a while since I've heard that name.
posted by frijole at 12:32 PM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Amazing. I literally unsubbed from the $10/month no-commercials Rdio streaming plan I was on this past weekend, so I'd hate to think that I was the straw that broke the camel's back. The interface and overall curation on Rdio was so much better than Spotify's it wasn't even funny, but I unsubbed because I'd been listening to way more of my own mp3 collection over the last few months.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:34 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


When will Pandora's death knell ring?

Hopefully not soon, because I use it (and pay for it, which about the ultimate vote of confidence in this day of pirating). I don't know how many of the music services (Pandora included) will survive, though, since no one wants to pay but the music licensing people sure want to get paid.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:34 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


The streaming services that have reached scale would love to negotiate better deals with the labels. But unfortunately for them, the entrance of tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon into this industry will likely make that difficult. Those companies are happy to pay the labels to create music services that are loss leaders meant largely to bring users into their ecosystem where they might spend time or money on other more lucrative pursuits.

Shit! Spotify and Rdio and Pandora apparently missed the memo early on that to operate a successful subscription based music platform you can't at your core be a subscription based music platform. What were they thinking!?
posted by pwally at 12:34 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I signed up for Lala a week before the Apple buyout. It was displeasing!
posted by selfnoise at 12:42 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


The interface and overall curation on Rdio was so much better than Spotify's it wasn't even funny,

Can you talk about the curation? That interests me, since I’m having a hard time distinguishing the different streaming services (I even posted an ask about it) and am interested in substantive comparisons between their content.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:43 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I still miss Last.FM. They never had a huge push for advertising music that I would never listen to, but some label wanted to push out at me.
posted by boo_radley at 12:43 PM on November 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Nooooooooo! My work blocks Spotify so I've been relying on Rdio.
posted by bgal81 at 12:47 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


This completely sucks. The interface has gotten worse in the last year or two as they've de-emphasized the unobtrusive but really nice social features, and I'm pretty sure they added more and more pointless tracky crap over time (Privacy Badger shows like 25 things now), but rdio is a service I've used daily (and happily paid for) nearly since its launch. I'm listening to it right now. I'd put it on my headphones for my post-work commute, if the app hadn't mysteriously disappeared from my phone a couple days ago. (I guess that's no longer really a mystery.)

Part of the value for me has been that a bunch of my friends and coworkers signed up at about the same time, and seeing at a glance what those people are listening to has broadened and deepened my musical taste a good deal. But beyond that, it's just a really good interface for exactly the thing I want in a streaming service: Instant access to a bunch of records, a simple collection management UI, and playlist features.

Looking at how much investment they took and being realistic about the value of my $10 a month, I'm sure this was inevitable. Still, dammit. Pandora is complete garbage, I can't stand Spotify, and the idea of turning to Appgooglemazon for a primary music source makes me want to light something on fire. Maybe it's time to go back to hoarding local copies of media.

It's not like I needed a reminder not to accumulate value in things that live on other people's computers. I know. Just... Feck.
posted by brennen at 12:49 PM on November 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


I literally unsubbed from the $10/month no-commercials Rdio streaming plan I was on this past weekend, so I'd hate to think that I was the straw that broke the camel's back

Yeah, but it's not about the money. It's because without you listening, what's the point?
posted by aubilenon at 12:49 PM on November 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


a new type of streaming music service that aims to unite radio, on demand, and even live shows into a single offering.

Oh, fantastic. It's not enough that they're destroying recordings as a revenue source, they're also hoping to destroy live performances too.
posted by namespan at 12:51 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I literally finished uploading my 120 GB+ collection to Lala a mere month before they got disappeared by Apple.

Can you talk about the curation?

Mostly, I liked the social aspect -- Rdio had a bunch of different music/lifestyle magazines and general tastemakers that you could follow to see what they listened to and liked. Spotify used to have that with their app engine, but last I heard they'd shuttered it in favor of purely algorithmic recommends.

I've often wondered why Spotify and Rdio never tried to get into the business of selling mp3s in addition to streaming. There's tons of albums I've listened to on both services that I would've paid extra to permanently buy on mp3, but had to go elsewhere to do so. I refuse to stick iTunes on my machine because I soured big time on the whole Apple ecosystem a few years ago, so I generally buy my mp3s direct from the artists when I can. But if Spotify or Rdio had gotten into that act, I probably would've bought a bunch there too.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:52 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Part of it is that you need to be able to offer something that makes people want you more than the others. Apple Music has tight OS integration (Hey Siri, play Shake it Off), Google Play takes the ads off music videos and now, all of Youtube, while Amazon Prime Music is included with a Prime sub you already have as an Amazon customer.

Rdio, Pandora, and even Spotify? They have inertia from being first movers and that's about it. Tidal? OMG JAY-ZEEEEEEEEEE and that's about it.

Once the yearly contract rate increases don't match the sub growth expect Spotify to go belly up (they have very aggressive grow targets built into their label contracts) and Pandora is one bad fight over royalty rates from bankruptcy.
posted by Talez at 12:53 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I doubt I'll ever use one of these streaming services. I still prefer listening to complete albums rather than tracks, so bouncing from song by X to song by Y to song by Z has no appeal at all. Last time I looked spotify had none of the albums I listen to most of the time. Hardly anything by Balke, Jarrett, Bjornstadt, or Brahem for example. So I load the MP3 player up with a bunch of albums and replace them as needed from the 1100+ CDs I have on file.
posted by lilburne at 12:55 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of bummed about this; I've been using rdio for a couple of years and have been generally pretty pleased with it. Oh well. We've still got mixcloud and bandcamp.
posted by phooky at 12:58 PM on November 17, 2015


Now that pre-programmed and pre-labeled Rdio button on my Roku3 remote, which I never pushed except when I hit it by accident, is even more useless and annoying!
posted by mudpuppie at 12:59 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


In practice, even Spotify is dwarfed by Youtube. Taylor Swift (among others) can play exclusivity games with other services, but she has to have her videos on Youtube. And they have has just launched their own streaming service: Introducing YouTube Music

It's probably not more clearly demonstrated than by the following remark: ...every time we as an industry tell Spotify they can't do something, Google goes 'f**k off, we're doing it anyway' and they just do it. And we have to scrap around after them to make it work."
posted by bonehead at 12:59 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have no clue why Pandora thought it would be a good idea to buy them. Pandora's problem is not needing new technology or new users, their problem is that they are charged vastly larger fees per song than radio and are thus unprofitable and have no route to profitability. They seemed to have counted on convincing the LoC that they should get more radio-like rates, but so far the LoC has just shrugged and said the labels can have what they want.

So yeah, every service that isn't willing to lose money is going to go away. The fun bit will be when the competition is dead and monopoly/duopoly pricing kicks in.
posted by tavella at 1:00 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


For me, what worked about Rdio was that it had the cleanest interface of all the services - it wasn't bloated and haphazard, it ran right in the browser, and it was just easy in a way other services weren't. Playlists were a breeze, the mobile app had zero fuss to it. The social features were limited but they worked, and there was an active community of people there who talked enthusiastically about what they were listening to. It was also incredibly easy to dig in and find new releases - not just the two dozen or so that Apple will show you, but you can dig as far down as you want to go. Once you had a nice base of followers, you were exposed to what they were listening to and what was trending, and lots of it was non-top 40. Plenty of space given to indie and experimental releases, and sometimes good old records popped up when they were experiencing spikes in interest. It never felt like it was trying to sell you on labels or releases, in the modern way payola operates. Overall it was just hassle-free and let you get about the business of discovering and listening to music.
posted by naju at 1:00 PM on November 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


And yeah, I was a daily user since the beta days, in 2010. Was happy to give them my money, and always had a sense that they were barely hanging on.

As an aside, I'd really like to explore Bandcamp more, and this might be the opportunity. If you want to get into obscure, interesting self-releases, that place is a goldmine.
posted by naju at 1:01 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


And while we're at it, let's spare a moment for Microsoft's Zune, which finally shut down last Sunday.

okay, moment over.
posted by phooky at 1:03 PM on November 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm also curious about what exactly Pandora is buying. I liked rdio and it had some cool advantages over spotify, I thought, but I think those were mostly related to interface and goals, not because they had some cool technology.

From twitter/tqbf: "Fun fact: Rdio had a 500MM valuation just 2 years ago."

Related: "Music Service No One Wanted Will No Longer Run on Speaker No One Bought" (I used to work at the company that made the Speaker No One Bought until the layoffs.)
posted by jjwiseman at 1:07 PM on November 17, 2015


Curation is what made me join Spotify, specifically the Discover Weekly playlists.
posted by soelo at 1:09 PM on November 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


jjwiseman: "Related: "Music Service No One Wanted Will No Longer Run on Speaker No One Bought" (I used to work at the company that made the Speaker No One Bought until the layoffs.)"

They actually thought they'd sell a $400 speaker that was hardwired to just play Rdio?
posted by octothorpe at 1:12 PM on November 17, 2015


Was going to say the same thing, the Spotify Discover Weekly playlists have been really great for me lately. Have found a bunch of new music from those.
posted by zempf at 1:13 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw this last night and am pretty upset by this. I knew it was coming but I've been using them for years. They had so many features that elevated then above the competition. I guess I'll have to make Spotify of something else work.
posted by milarepa at 1:13 PM on November 17, 2015


In my experience, Spotify's curation is worlds better than Pandora's. Pandora's recs are super predictable--a music version of Amazon sub-subgenres. "Moody female musicians sometimes featuring pianos." But the Spotify recommendations are like what you'd get from a knowledgeable clerk at a local video store.

Pandora: "Oh, you enjoy Joni Mitchell? How about some Joan Baez and Norah Jones? Michelle Branch?"
Spotify: "Joni Mitchell, hm. Neil Young? Jaco Pastorius? A really good Carly Simon song you've never heard before? Cool okay enjoy, let me know how you like it."

Plus, the ability to steam an entire album and make playlists. No contest IMHO, and I hope Spotify can get their act together and pay artists enough so I can listen to Joanna Newsom and Taylor Swift there.
posted by witchen at 1:15 PM on November 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I doubt I'll ever use one of these streaming services. I still prefer listening to complete albums rather than tracks, so bouncing from song by X to song by Y to song by Z has no appeal at all.

Actually, Rhapsody allows you to stream or download complete albums as well as single tracks, which is why I've stuck with them for many years now. Might be worth checking out to see if they have the artists/genres you want.
posted by Kat Allison at 1:16 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Never heard of Rdio?

No, guess they kinda flew under the Rdar.
posted by resurrexit at 1:19 PM on November 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


Pandora: "Oh, you enjoy Joni Mitchell? How about some Joan Baez and Norah Jones? Michelle Branch?"

Pandora gets super repetitive for me, too. "Oh, you like Debaser? Well here it is every half hour." instead of, "here's some other Pixies songs you might like."
posted by zempf at 1:20 PM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


So what does this mean for those of us who live in countries where Rdio works and Pandora is geoblocked?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:20 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


They actually thought they'd sell a $400 speaker that was hardwired to just play Rdio?

Haha, no! Certainly neither any of the engineers I worked with nor I thought anyone would buy them at that price. But we had some management... issues.
posted by jjwiseman at 1:21 PM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I doubt I'll ever use one of these streaming services. I still prefer listening to complete albums rather than tracks, so bouncing from song by X to song by Y to song by Z has no appeal at all.

Actually, Rhapsody allows you to stream or download complete albums as well as single tracks, which is why I've stuck with them for many years now. Might be worth checking out to see if they have the artists/genres you want.

I mean, assuming you pay $10 / month, so do Google Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal, and assuming you Prime so does Amazon. The notion that streaming means you just get one-off songs is simply incorrect.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:22 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Might be worth checking out to see if they have the artists/genres you want.

Hardly any Jarrett, Brahem, Surman, or Rypdal. No recent Bjornstad, and the album I'm currently listening to Lumen Drones is nowhere to be seen.
posted by lilburne at 1:26 PM on November 17, 2015


Pandora gets super repetitive for me, too. "Oh, you like Debaser? Well here it is every half hour." instead of, "here's some other Pixies songs you might like."

Back when I still had a Pandora account, there seemed to be literally nothing I could do to keep the goddamned thing from playing "Where Is My Mind?" every half an hour.
posted by brennen at 1:31 PM on November 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


I mean, seriously, Pandora is only available -- via legal means, anyway -- in three countries. Three. And one of them is New Zealand. (Nothing against New Zealand; it's just not exactly a huge market.)

How does something like that become the big fish that gobbles up everything else? Could it be that paying for less international rights and turning a blind eye to VPN piracy means more profit? Surely not!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:32 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm fairly heavily invested in Spotify continuing to exist, I have dozens of playlists I've carefully curated, and dozens more from other people I follow. My only aggravation is that my favourite early The Mark Of Cain albums disappeared from Spotify a couple of months ago.

The killer feature I'd love to see on Spotify, quite frankly, would be the ability to increase the amount you pay for your subscription, which would in turn increase the amount of money artists make from your plays. I'd be quite happy to pay double, even triple what I pay per month for Spotify if the artists I listen to got paid double or triple.
posted by Jimbob at 1:36 PM on November 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


VPN piracy

VPN piracy lol. I think you mean artificial market-distorting protectionism imposed by media companies.
posted by Jimbob at 1:42 PM on November 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


Well this should come as no surprise; I just recently got into Rdio, so of course it's dying, just like every internet service or property I actually invest any time or energy into.

For a small monthly tribute, I'll promise to avoid $YOUR_FAVORITE_MUSIC_SERVICE in the future.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:44 PM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


And while we're at it, let's spare a moment for Microsoft's Zune, which finally shut down last Sunday.

May the Zune squirt no more, forever.
posted by drezdn at 1:49 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


which would in turn increase the amount of money artists make from your plays.

Erm! The artists that you like won't necessarily get any of the money you pay to spotify. The money goes into a big pool which is shared out across all the artists in proportion to the gross amount of plays they get. 80% of all plays are for 1% of the tracks so those 1% get 80% of everyone's subscription fees. The bands you like will get next to nothing from your subs. You are better of buying their CDs or downloads if you really want to support them.
posted by lilburne at 1:57 PM on November 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


And while we're at it, let's spare a moment for Microsoft's Zune, which finally shut down last Sunday.

To be fair that was mostly Microsoft realizing they were morons for having a separate branded music store for every single device/platform they own and shoving it all into Groove Music.
posted by Talez at 1:57 PM on November 17, 2015


antitrust antitrust antitrust
posted by ennui.bz at 1:59 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd really like to explore Bandcamp more

Bandcamp is fantastic for music lovers—it's full of good, under-the-radar, truly independent music, usually at eminently reasonable prices. And I've heard (from artists) that it's a pretty good deal for artists, too—at least compared to the much-vilified Spotify (which I use and love, FWIW).

I'm much more willing to buy music when I know the money goes more-or-less directly to the artist (or indie label).
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:00 PM on November 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Back when I still had a Pandora account, there seemed to be literally nothing I could do to keep the goddamned thing from playing "Where Is My Mind?" every half an hour.

You say that like it's a bad thing? All kidding aside, I agree totally. The algorithm sux/needs work/[wrong forum to b*tch about it].

I run my own business and use Pandora all day long, but still think there's space for a good streaming service to step in and *fix* what's obviously broken. Bottom line: there are people willing to pay for a service, and in a free market there should be a way to have a provider make money providing that service. QED. The payer/artist/owner system is broken, but we all knew that. Apple, Amazon or some other large content owner at this fragile point in the marketplace should be able to step in and easily "own the market," but it has yet to happen. Users all complain of each streaming provider's own proclivities. There must be a solution in the noise. What is it???
posted by cyclotronboy at 2:02 PM on November 17, 2015


I tried Rdio, but during my shortlived trial period they played way more ads than Spotify. . .

Seconding the Bandcamp love. Coincidentally, listening to this right now: https://sahelsounds.bandcamp.com/album/abba-gargando
posted by nikoniko at 2:05 PM on November 17, 2015


I have argued for a long time that the service which adds a "directly pay this artist $1 / $5 / $15 right now" button could change the game a lot (if this already exists and I don't know about it please tell me; I and a bunch of my friends appear to be unexpectedly in the market for new streaming music services).

I know this probably doesn't exist just because it would be hell to implement and there's no advantage for labels in it, but still.
posted by brennen at 2:06 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Unfortunate for Rdio and its fans. I can relate, having had both MOG and Lala shot out from under me. Both great services that did one thing: offered deep catalogues of music without a lot of "social" bells and whistles. And both, ultimately, casualties of Apple's hamhanded efforts to build its online music platform. As a result, I never use Apple's streaming service because fuck them. I go with Spotify, which is decent, especially for finding new, more-mainstream music, and the blogs to find the more-obscure.
posted by the sobsister at 2:07 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


In addition to Discover Weekly which is tuned to your tastes to a really alarming degree, Spotify has Fresh Finds which is basically made by datamining hipster music blogs.
posted by vogon_poet at 2:16 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Back when I still had a Pandora account, there seemed to be literally nothing I could do to keep the goddamned thing from playing "Where Is My Mind?" every half an hour.

Hah! Yeah, if you listen to pretty much any late 80's/early 90's "indie" stuff Pandora assumes that The Pixies and The Cure are your ZOMG MUST LISTEN bands. Eventually I beat the algorithm into submission, but I think it took like a month of actively skipping & thumbs-downing every single Pixies and Cure song.
posted by soundguy99 at 2:18 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Dang. I tried Rdio a while back, and while I loved the UI and curation, the sound quality was just unacceptable on decent equipment. If they offered 320k at the time (hell, I would have settled for 192k), it would have been perfect. I couldn't stand Spotify's ass-backwards play queue behavior and overall lousy UI, so I settled for Google Play Music.

After Rdio finally went to 320k, I almost went back earlier this year, but I read a bunch of disgruntled posts about large swathes of music disappearing from their library. I figured the writing was on the wall for them at that point.

It's really a shame; if they had better marketing and didn't lag so far behind on the sound quality front, I think they could have done a lot better.
posted by segfaultxr7 at 2:30 PM on November 17, 2015


It's not enough that they're destroying recordings as a revenue source, they're also hoping to destroy live performances too.

Everyone knows real musicians make music for the love of music. If they want to pay the bills, they can sell t-shirts. *
*adjust model as necessary depending on creative profession
posted by Thorzdad at 2:33 PM on November 17, 2015


And yet Pandora's algorithm makes much more sense than Google Play Music's does. Thumbs-downing does not actually affect anything except that one track -- and only for "radio", not removing it from your library or skipping it when you play the album or someone's manually created playlist. "Not Interested" from the suggestions does not affect the chances that band/album will come up on radio, and doesn't even seem to affect the suggestions beyond the day you clicked it.

I like Google for playing whole albums, but Pandora for "give me stuff that's kind of like this" because Pandora can at least be trained.
posted by Foosnark at 2:33 PM on November 17, 2015


let's spare a moment for Microsoft's Zune, which finally shut down last Sunday.

My strongest memory of the Zune was when I was at a party in, like, 2012 where it turned out that one of my friends owned a refurbished Zune (and, in retrospect, was exactly the sort of guy who would own a refurbished Zune). As soon as he brought it out, one of his drunk asshole friends grabbed it out of his hands, started mashing his fingers at the front of it to no apparent effect, and finally threw his head back and yelled, "This interface is so unintuitive!" at the sky.
posted by Copronymus at 2:35 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I love Rdio and I'm really sad to see it go.. plus their family plan was baller.. me and my husband and my sister and my brother all just pay $5 a month each, which is reasonable enough that it stopped me from pirating music anymore.

I'm really sad to see it go, especially as a canadian, where we can't get pandora.

also, I was mad for the microsoft zune, so I just have bad taste in music technology I guess.
posted by euphoria066 at 2:39 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


80% of all plays are for 1% of the tracks so those 1% get 80% of everyone's subscription fees.

Notice I asked for the system to be changed. I am an artist on Spotify. A shitty one, but I know how the system works. Plays are counted per track. Artists get stats on that. A play is worth a certain (tiny) amount of money. I'm asking that if I'm a hypothetical double-subscriber, every time I play a song, it basically counts for two plays from me, and therefore increases, a little, their pay-per-play.
posted by Jimbob at 2:41 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I worry for Pandora because their Music Genome Project is unique in the streaming space. If they go bankrupt, will that immense treasure trove of knowledge be lost? I wish they would open up an API for searching for music based on attributes: put in something like "metal with minor key tonality, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation, nu-disco production, and horn ensemble", and get back all the songs that match those attributes. (Uh, whatever those might be.) You can sort of do it with Google right now, but it's clunky and probably misses a lot.
posted by archagon at 2:46 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, like many others, I was pleasantly surprised that my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist had more hits than duds. And I'm pretty picky about my music.
posted by archagon at 2:55 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


>Everyone knows real musicians make music for the love of music. If they want to pay the bills, they can sell t-shirts. *

Real T-shirt makers make T-shirts for the love of T-shirts.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:55 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Curation is what made me join Spotify, specifically the Discover Weekly playlists.

Discover Weekly has been providing maybe 80% of my new music discoveries lately. There's some seriously clever tech powering that thing.

(And if you want me to buy your stuff, put it on bandcamp.)
posted by effbot at 2:57 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


system to be changed. I am an artist on Spotify. A shitty one, but I know how the system works. Plays are counted per track. Artists get stats on that. A play is worth a certain (tiny) amount of money. I'm asking that if I'm a hypothetical double-subscriber, every time I play a song, it basically counts for two plays from me, and therefore increases, a little, their pay-per-play.

Hmmm couldn't someone build a bot that did this? Logged in as you when you're not online and listened to tracks you selected over and over? Note: this may be illegal.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:00 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's some seriously clever tech powering that thing

If only they applied the same tech to their Start Playlist Radio feature which, like, Pandora, tends to regress to The Pixies pretty quickly.
posted by Jimbob at 3:01 PM on November 17, 2015


and the album I'm currently listening to Lumen Drones is nowhere to be seen.

At least on Google Music, little-to-nothing released on ECM is unavailable. This is a serious annoyance and a real problem for the streaming services: label-wide catalog gaps.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:10 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


In light of this, I decided to check out Spotify after being an Rdio user for a long time. I'm finding myself concerned that other than literally play the music I ask for, it doesn't do almost anything I used Rdio for. I can't search by record label, albums don't end with a seamless transition to (well selected) similar music, and it seems like it takes a bit of effort to play things album at a time. Am I confused? And if these aspects aren't there, can anyone suggest any useful features that Spotify has that I should be excited about?
posted by Schismatic at 3:15 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I still maintain that Microsoft should have named their post-Windows Mobile smartphone the Zone, for Zune + Phone. I've never owned a Zune nor spent much time with a Windows Phone, but it would be preferential to continuing to flogging MS's tired cash cows into dead horses in branding.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:17 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Spotify's Discover playlist is likely powered by their The Echonest acquisition. I wonder why it them so long to integrate it.

What killed Rdio, and what will probably end up killing Spotify, is that the rights holders want more money for their content. Google can lose money on music, but make it up by using to to sell more advertising. We can lose money (although I don't know any of the financial parts of Apple Music) but we can use I to sell more iPhones and digital music. Pandora is acquiring more than just steaming music companies lately, so they obviously have bigger plans.
posted by sideshow at 3:22 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm moving to Apple Music rather than Spotify, personally. I gave it the three-month trial and was actually pretty impressed with the curation side of things. Their playlists are regularly updated and really good - their Editorial Content Manager is Scott Plagenhoef, who was previous Editor in Chief at Pitchfork. He knows his stuff. Surprisingly they have an experimental playlist that gets into weird modular synth stuff and noise. You don't see that everyday from a major multinational corporation!

It's utter havoc on your iTunes library, though. Hilarious example. And the UI is just a bunch of stuff cobbled together. Sigh.
posted by naju at 3:25 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'd be quite happy to pay double, even triple what I pay per month for Spotify if the artists I listen to got paid double or triple.

I've often said this myself. It's an amazing service for what we're paying (and so are its competitors). The trouble is that every time I read a comments thread on the subject, I invariably come across a whole bunch of people saying, "$10/month to access 95% of the recorded history of music? Why is it so EXPENSIVE" and I end up grumbling about the kids today and their fucking entitlement complex.
posted by fungible at 3:26 PM on November 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I wanted to like Apple Music, but compared to Spotify, the interface was downright insufferable, both on desktop and mobile. Plus, things constantly failed to sync.
posted by archagon at 3:28 PM on November 17, 2015


I'm finding myself concerned that other than literally play the music I ask for, it doesn't do almost anything I used Rdio for. I can't search by record label, albums don't end with a seamless transition to (well selected) similar music, and it seems like it takes a bit of effort to play things album at a time.

I was a disgruntled Spotify user for these reasons and am about a year into settling comfortably into Rdio. I also found that if you dig deep into their stations, you can discover some awesome left-field stuff. They really hit the comfy low-bullshit sweet spot in many many ways. Sad to see them go. The service is still running right now and I'm enjoying the hell out of it's last days.

In my dream world, a consortium of most non-massive labels would get together, copy Rdio's design, pool their catalogs, and charge 3x more than Rdio did, and market it to serious-music-sorts as "the platform that will make music sustainable", and I would throw money at them in fist-fulls.
posted by tempythethird at 3:29 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Bonus Spotify tip: plug in...

genre:"a genre from this list"

...into the search box if you want a quick genre playlist. Useful if you're interested in exploring new genres but don't know where to start!
posted by archagon at 3:33 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, apparently you can do the same thing with label:"[insert record label here]".
posted by archagon at 3:34 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]




I can't search by record label, albums don't end with a seamless transition to (well selected) similar music, and it seems like it takes a bit of effort to play things album at a time.

Yep I was just about to say, you can use artist: genre: label: tags in your search. And I don't know how you're struggling to play an album at a time - you find the album, click the big "Play" button. As for continuing music after the album, yeah it doesn't do that unless you've put something in a play queue for it to switch to.
posted by Jimbob at 3:38 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pandora has been ramping up their advertising in Australia, I've seen several TV ads over the past week telling me to 'start my music journey' with them.

Honestly I really like the idea that they've gotten actual musicologists to survey tracks and give them a bunch of attributes. But please just let me go in and select the attributes I want in the songs you serve me! Your algorithm is so bad at playing things that sound like the seed I chose!
posted by Quilford at 3:48 PM on November 17, 2015


Thanks for the search tips, that's a big help!

And I don't know how you're struggling to play an album at a time - you find the album, click the big "Play" button

It's not a big deal on desktop, but on mobile it seems like the only way is to scroll to the first song on the list and specifically touch it. The big central button is for shuffle play of the album, for some reason. "Effort" is perhaps not the right word, but I feel like I'm fighting the interface to do it.
posted by Schismatic at 3:48 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't recommend Bandcamp enough.

Bandcamp is fantastic for music lovers—it's full of good, under-the-radar, truly independent music, usually at eminently reasonable prices.

Seconded. And my favorite feature is the community aspect! Once you register an account, there's a Music Feed that initially just shows new releases from bands/labels that you've previously purchased albums from. But in the bottom right, there are a handful of other users who have similar album purchases as you. So from there you can either (a) add users as friends, in which case each time they purchase a new album, it shows up on your Music Feed, or (b) just go straight to their user page and view their entire purchased library. Either way, it's a fantastic way to discover new artists and albums you never would have heard of from people who like the same albums you do.

Which is great if you have any kind of sub-mainstream tastes at all, since Spotify, Apple, and all the other major services have a pretty miserable library. (Although I have to admit that Apple's "For You" curated playlists aren't great for discovery, but they are fantastic for effortlessly serving up good music when I don't feel like picking something myself! But boo for the way the Apple Music releases of iTunes and the iOS Music app totally fucked up the UI)

(I mean they seriously made it so that if you have Apple Music activated, it's impossible to select what locally-saved music you want to sync from your computer to your phone. They just remove that functionality from the sync settings interface entirely. But come on, what about when I'm flying? Or when I'm in an area with no wifi and bad cell reception? I want to make sure I have my most recent purchases and some old favorites synced with my phone so I have something to listen to when I can't stream! So it turns out you have to deactivate Apple Music so they re-enable the music selection interface in iTunes, sync your phone, then reactivate Apple Music again. Fucking ridiculous)

(And of course the iOS Apple Music app shows your entire music library and not just what you have actually synced to your phone. But there's an option to show only offline music! But it doesn't work or do anything, as far as I can tell)

(Anyway I have some thoughts about Apple Music but this derail has gone on long enough)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 4:55 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Don't uh... tell the record industry this but uh... I would probably pay 3x as much for Spotify.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:00 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't uh... tell the record industry this but uh... I would probably pay 3x as much for Spotify.

The record industry would love that. Of course, Spotify would love it more, and almost certainly pass very little of it on....
posted by lumpenprole at 5:17 PM on November 17, 2015


I really liked the idea of Rdio, mostly because they actually bothered to enter the Canadian market well before anyone else thought it was worth their time. But once Google Play Music arrived in Canada with their cloud music storage option, it was the beginning of the end of my Rdio subscription. The easiest way to illustrate this is with numbers: I have 181 albums in my Google Play Music library (made up entirely of albums I've bought on CD or digital download over the past few years). 82 of those albums aren't actually available on Google Play Music; the vast majority of those are because the artist has zero albums on the service. The depth of each service's music library doesn't vary much, either: if an artist isn't on one service, they're likely missing from all of them. This means any service that lets me upload music I already own is automatically going to win, which in Canada basically means Google Play Music and Spotify. Google Play Music was here first.

Bandcamp has been instrumental for giving me easy access to music I'd have a hard time finding on the streaming services. Its digital downloads are top-notch—name another service that'll let you download music in high-quality formats like FLAC. They're out there but they're few and far between, and tend to serve niches or individual labels. Bandcamp also does physical product, and I've bought several albums in vinyl and CD formats over the years from Bandcamp artists and labels.

If the larger music industry ever gets a hold of Bandcamp and ruins it, I might be done with music.
posted by chrominance at 5:47 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm really unhappy about this, which is more of a common (but not common enough, I guess) reaction than I thought it would be. I love Rdio and pretty much everything about it. So sorry to see it go even if the writing's been on a wall a while with the lack of traction it had.
posted by trbojanglesm at 6:04 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't uh... tell the record industry this but uh... I would probably pay 3x as much for Spotify.

People did pay 3x and 5x and more for satellite radio for a while, and that was not as good a product (though it wasn't a *bad* product by any means, I quite liked it myself). They probably would still be paying that if streaming services hadn't come along and driven the price down.

I'd bet 3-5x is the part where the streaming economics actually start to make sense in terms of getting everybody paid. But that's probably more for services like Pandora which are meant to be better radio. Something like Spotify is not only that, it's also Columbia House/BMG music club for the smartphone age (but cheaper!), and is meant to replace buying recordings, which means they're blowing up an economic model that used to produce more revenue at just the time when musicians could have taken advantage of disintermediation opportunities and been collecting most of the revenue themselves.

More concretely: one purchase on Bandcamp is gonna do so much more for an artist you like than 100 Spotify plays. It'll make it that much more likely they can make more music for you instead of doing some other hustle to pay the bills.

Of course, only a fraction of people think about this and even fewer actually care. There's plenty of music in the world, always will be, losing some here and there at the margins ain't gonna to change that.
posted by namespan at 6:31 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Which is great if you have any kind of sub-mainstream tastes at all, since Spotify, Apple, and all the other major services have a pretty miserable library.

What are the things that people want to find in a streaming library but can’t? I’d love to start compiling some sort of definitive list of these. As a general rule Google Music has been excellent for any artist whose catalog I’ve been interested in dipping a toe into, but there are certainly gaps. (ECM music, for example, as I mentioned in an earlier comment.) Keeping track of those gaps seems key for any real assessment of the services’ relative merits.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:43 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


And my most recent comment, by the way, is probably the answer to this question:

I've often wondered why Spotify and Rdio never tried to get into the business of selling mp3s in addition to streaming.

Because the people who created Spotify and Rdio probably already did see themselves as in the same business of selling mp3s. Just the next iteration of it. Managing files? Owning recordings? So. 2005. Consumers don't want that. They want easy, searchable, at-your-fingertips always-on on-demand access to the (mostly) entirety of recorded music: all for the low price of $19.95.
posted by namespan at 6:50 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had to double check this by searching through e-mail to make sure I hadn't imagined it, but in fact rdio did for a while allow for the purchase of albums. It was fairly easy. I'm not sure when they dropped the feature.

(Looking at mail & twitter history, I realize that I once tried to get a straight answer out of them about the financial mechanics of it - I remember feeling like there was reason to think it wasn't a great deal for artists, though I don't remember why I thought it'd be any worse than doing the same via, say, Amazon - but they politely refused to tell me anything.)
posted by brennen at 7:11 PM on November 17, 2015


Dismayed to hear this. In Canada, our options are more limited, but Rdio was exactly the streaming service I wanted: easy to find and play full albums, to make my own playlists, and all on a relatively clean interface. I'm not sure where I'll go now; I'll probably just listen to KEXP most of the time. (Currently, I listen to KEXP to discover new music, then stream the albums on Rdio. If it is about curated music, Apple, I'll take John Richards over whoever you've got any day.)
posted by synecdoche at 8:30 PM on November 17, 2015


is it weird that I'm still missing the original AudioGalaxy?
posted by meehawl at 9:34 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


.
posted by univac at 9:44 PM on November 17, 2015


Some bits from a pretty good article at The Verge, "Why Rdio died":
For a solid year, though, using Rdio felt like the future. Securing label deals took so long that the app was in development for two years before it launched, and it showed in the polished product delivered by its team. There was that calming blue-and-white design, and its simple grid of album artwork — a powerful rebuttal to iTunes’ nightmare spreadsheets. There were its innovative social features, showing you what your friends were streaming in real time, and a "heavy rotation" playlist that highlighted albums based on how many friends had listened to them. "Social from the ground up — it sounds like marketing speak, but it was legit," says Chris Becherer, Rdio’s head of product. "The founding premise was the best music recommendations come from the people you know. That was the whole idea."
[...]
One major problem: Rdio never had a dedicated marketing chief for more than a few months at a time. Early on, the company contracted with West, a San Francisco-based agency run by Allison Johnson, Apple’s former head of marketing. But many people inside the company blamed the lack of in-house marketers on its lack of traction. Later, Mark Ruxin, who joined Rdio after it acquired his app Tastemaker, served in the role. But he only served in it for a few months before leaving. "No one was looking over marketing whatsoever," one former employee told me. "Ultimately, that was the beginning of the end there."
[...]
"Rdio, I guess, made the mistake of trying to be sustainable too early," Miner says. "That classic startup mistake of worrying about being profitable and having a business that makes any sense before you’ve reached this astronomical growth curve. Which is partly the trap of the business model itself — because of the content licensing deals, the margins for the business were so incredibly thin. No matter what we did, the labels made the lion’s share of the revenue. You have to make it up with extreme volume, which is why you see Spotify going after every human being in the world."
[...]
Miner jokes the design was aimed at "snobby album purists." Among its subscribers were a small legion of user interface and user experience designers — one reason you see little touches of Rdio everywhere you look
posted by jjwiseman at 10:33 PM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, I mean, did they even market it at all, though? The only reason I know about it is because I dug around in the App Store for a music streamer that wasn't Spotify.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:37 PM on November 17, 2015


I have argued for a long time that the service which adds a "directly pay this artist $1 / $5 / $15 right now" button could change the game a lot .

Agreed - and, by extension, I'd love a service that told me "Here is a list of the music you listened to last month - click here to pay each artist [amount you stipulate]/number of individual artists * number of tracks by that artist]". Basically an on-line version a street musician passing a hat around after a performance.
posted by rongorongo at 12:38 AM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


What are the things that people want to find in a streaming library but can’t?

For me, mostly, very local, truly small independent artists. However - that's what Bandcamp is for, and it's fantastic. Although it's not like it's *hard* to get your music distributed on Spotify or Apple Music now matter who you are - DistroKid will do it for a very reasonable annual fee. You won't make any money, most likely, but it's not like there's a gatekeeper.
posted by Jimbob at 2:45 AM on November 18, 2015


What are the things that people want to find in a streaming library but can’t?

For Pandora, that would be less Pixies and a much deeper catalog of obscure international music. I am just now experimenting with Spotify, but their mobile interface isn't immediately lending itself to the way I like to use streaming, which is as focused radio stations for music on long drives. I don't want to listen to all the music by artist X, I want it to start with that artist and then go in surprising directions. (As noted above, Pandora fails on the surprising front, but does really well at maintaining a consistent sound.)
posted by Dip Flash at 5:43 AM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


At least on Google Music, little-to-nothing released on ECM is unavailable. This is a serious annoyance and a real problem for the streaming services: label-wide catalog gaps.

One of the main reasons I subscribe to Play Music rather than some other service is the ability to upload one's own tracks, whether ripped from CD, purchased elsewhere, or acquired by..other means. They even integrate half decently. I don't think they will show up in a featured radio stream, but you can use the play [artist] radio option and it will play your owned tracks and their in similar artists/genres/whatever.
posted by wierdo at 6:13 AM on November 18, 2015


Agreed - and, by extension, I'd love a service that told me "Here is a list of the music you listened to last month - click here to pay each artist [amount you stipulate]/number of individual artists * number of tracks by that artist]". Basically an on-line version a street musician passing a hat around after a performance.

Yes, very much this. What I would really like is something a lot like Gratipay (formerly gittip)'s model, plus some tooling so you can allocate funds by listening and such. (Or at least their model from before there was an ugly social media blowup and a name change; it looks like they've shifted things since.)
posted by brennen at 6:49 AM on November 18, 2015


Western Infidels: "Well this should come as no surprise; I just recently got into Rdio, so of course it's dying, just like every internet service or property I actually invest any time or energy into."

I respectfully request that you spend less time on Metafilter, then.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:49 AM on November 18, 2015


The long-term challenge all the streaming providers have is that owners of content copyrights recognize that they add little intrinsic value and will constantly struggle to limit their skim to a bare minimum, and sideline them whenever possible (cf CBS using the new Star Trek series to anchor sales of its proprietary streaming platform, and HBO keeping its content exclusive to its controlled platforms for years.) The streaming video providers are reacting to this by focusing resources on creating their own content, but that's not realistic for streaming music providers.
posted by MattD at 6:54 AM on November 18, 2015


One interesting statistic with regard to the "depth" of rdio's catalog: Fully half of the tracks in their catalog had never been played by a user. 80% of tracks had 10 plays or fewer. Half the artists had never had any of their tracks played by a user. About 90% of artists had fewer than 10 cumulative plays of their tracks.

The power claw is strong in music, and the tail is long and extremely thin. I don't know much about the details of streaming music licensing, but I know it is often a relatively terrible, painful process with draconian contracts. I can imagine that in terms of reward per unit of effort, putting a deal in place with labels that give you e.g. Katy Perry's and Drake's music, which will be listened to by literally millions of your users, might be a higher priority than dealing with N small labels whose tracks will have a median playcount of 0.
posted by jjwiseman at 8:11 AM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


What are the things that people want to find in a streaming library but can’t?

Back when I was kicking the tires on streaming services, I would always look for my favourite band - a semi-obscure garage punk band from the 90s. If the service had one of their albums, it was a signal their catalogs were not only deep enough, but also actually had something I like. Pandora didn't for a long time. Mog did, Rdio didn't, so I went with Mog. (RIP!) Now I use Spotify, and their long tail is great in parts but not entirely because of rights and licensing.

Like my favourite band - their label went bust in 2005. Somehow their first album is streamable, but not their earlier instantiations nor their last two albums. Since they're labeless, if they want to get back online they'd have to do it themselves, but they've also been broken up for 15 years. They're not alone in this situation.

There's also the issue of a lot of old stuff that might be great but never made it to a best of compilation. The song that most quickly comes to mind is one of my favourite Gary Lewis songs - "Orangutan". Nobody cares enough to make it accessible (other than people putting in on Youtube).

One interesting statistic with regard to the "depth" of rdio's catalog: Fully half of the tracks in their catalog had never been played by a user. 80% of tracks had 10 plays or fewer.

This is really interesting and I wouldn't be surprised if it was true for most streaming services. The long tail is a hard thing to wrestle with. I'm often pleasantly surprised by what I can find streaming, like this British beat song by the Addicts, I never thought I'd hear. But then I'm equally disappointed when I kind find things that are pretty common. It's a confluence of obscurity and rights ownership.
posted by kendrak at 8:49 AM on November 18, 2015


Well, I mean, did they even market it at all, though?

Rdio had at least three advertising spots on my radio station in the morning and two on the drive home. They never said anything that made me want to switch from Spotify to them.
posted by INFJ at 9:42 AM on November 18, 2015


I still (as in, within the last 14 hours) use Zune software on my desktop to play my music. I like the interface and smart playlists although I'm sure there's other just as good options out there.

I absolutely loved the Zune HD with the Music Pass though. I could download as many songs as I wanted and could listen without internet later. Sure they had DRM, but every month I could buy 10 mp3s for the stuff I actually wanted to keep. All for $15 a month. It was like paying $5 a month for unlimited music and $10 a month to keep some of it in perpetuity. For me it was the best of both worlds. Of course my Zune HD has long since worn out its flash and I think they finally discontinued the $15 a month with 10 mp3s deal, now that they finally killed the Zune service. But it was good while it lasted.
posted by Green With You at 12:01 PM on November 18, 2015


Mog was terrific. Though it turned into Beats, which became Apple Music. I've stayed on since Mog.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:13 PM on November 18, 2015


Someone still has to solve the, "ok, you've got 30m tracks; what do you want to hear?" problem.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:17 PM on November 18, 2015


The power claw is strong in music, and the tail is long and extremely thin.

Tell me about this power claw.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:31 PM on November 18, 2015


Honest question: do people actually care about social features?

Curating and sharing playlists is one thing. But beyond that, I don't care if my music app shares what I listen to on Facebook or if my friends can see what I am listening to in real time. I think really what I wanted was just what Rdio was, minus the social features: something with a big library that made it really easy to listen to a full album or create my own playlist or listen to a random stream of music that I might like based on my previous listening habits.
posted by synecdoche at 4:35 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Honest question: do people actually care about social features?

Ok, I've commented in here too much already, but I'll bite on this one before I stop: Yes.

I want to elaborate on this, because I think it's sort of an important point. I don't want anything at all shared on Facebook by anything at all. I don't want anything shared on Facebook so much that I haven't used Facebook in like 5 years, and in general my life is much the better for it. I usually get about a syllable into hearing "social network" in any given professional nerd's description of their current project at work events and conferences and shit before I mentally file the whole conversation as a loss and go into automatic drink-refill seeking mode.

That said, what I like in systems is lightweight, focused, non-coercive, optional mechanisms for communicating things with people I know and people whose cognitive space it is good to share a little of at a distance. rdio was really good at that kind of thing for quite a while. It gave me an ambient awareness of what people were into, without forcing much of anything into the cluttered foreground space of my mind, and it let me share a little of my own awareness of music without a lot of stupid, irritating, desperately-begging-for-engagement fuss.

I think part of the reason that systems like this keep getting killed off is that they don't suit the Facebookification-of-everything agenda for the total ownership of our attention and the ways we distribute it. They're just kind of useful little spaces for our awareness to inhabit without attempting to subsume all networked communication into themselves. See, for example, the really pleasant aspects of Google Reader's sharing features. I know why they're almost never an architecture our corporate lords and masters are especially thrilled about, but I appreciate them when I find them.
posted by brennen at 7:59 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Back when I still had a Pandora account, there seemed to be literally nothing I could do to keep the goddamned thing from playing "Where Is My Mind?" every half an hour.

So this is what it's like to know you're not alone.
posted by book 'em dano at 9:24 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


synechdoche: Honest question: do people actually care about social features?

Curating and sharing playlists is one thing. But beyond that, I don't care if my music app shares what I listen to on Facebook or if my friends can see what I am listening to in real time. I think really what I wanted was just what Rdio was, minus the social features: something with a big library that made it really easy to listen to a full album or create my own playlist or listen to a random stream of music that I might like based on my previous listening habits.


I use Spotify, but it seems like Rdio had some very similar social features. And I'd say yes, I care about the social features, but I'd agree that sharing playlists is the crucial feature there, with a focus on collaborative playlists and seeing/following friends'/strangers' public playlists. This, plus the sheer availability of music, is what has changed my listening habits as I've transitioned to a majority streaming listener.

I don't want what I'm listening to shared on Facebook, or to see what others are listening to because that would overwhelm everything else there. I do like being able to easily share playlists, albums, and tracks though. But I really liked the Friend Feed (seeing what others are listening to in real time), at least until they made each entry take up three times as much space. And also made it so we couldn't resize columns. I now keep Friend Feed hidden just so I have more space to try and see what I'm listening to. It's a shame, because I have some friends that share/write about interesting songs and I don't always think to check Activity.

I like that I can see who a friend/followee is listening to if I go to their profile. I like that if I go to an artist's page I can see what of my friends are listening to them. I find these unobtrusive and interesting.

But the rest of this could go away and I'd still be held by sharing playlists and the massive library (even though it is not complete).
posted by mountmccabe at 9:48 AM on November 19, 2015


jjwiseman: One interesting statistic with regard to the "depth" of rdio's catalog: Fully half of the tracks in their catalog had never been played by a user. 80% of tracks had 10 plays or fewer. Half the artists had never had any of their tracks played by a user. About 90% of artists had fewer than 10 cumulative plays of their tracks.

The power claw is strong in music, and the tail is long and extremely thin. I don't know much about the details of streaming music licensing, but I know it is often a relatively terrible, painful process with draconian contracts. I can imagine that in terms of reward per unit of effort, putting a deal in place with labels that give you e.g. Katy Perry's and Drake's music, which will be listened to by literally millions of your users, might be a higher priority than dealing with N small labels whose tracks will have a median playcount of 0.



This reminds me about Forgotify (previously).

And this is why most of the money goes to the biggest artists. It's more a tautology than a conspiracy.

With streaming I listen more to pop - both current and from my youth - than I otherwise would, which keeps listening fun (so yet another person listening to Katy Perry). But far more of my listening has been exploring other music, which has for me mostly meant classical (meant broadly, thus far today has been Biber and Sokolović) and opera, but also tons of stuff I never would have gotten to, being stuck listening to the same CDs over and over.
posted by mountmccabe at 10:04 AM on November 19, 2015


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