I’m a massive music fan, and am pretty proud of the music collection that I’ve amassed since my very first album purchase way back in 1989 (Stormfront – Billy Joel) on cassette tape. I remember having to turn over the tape to listen to “Side-2″ on the stereo that got passed down from my older brothers. As much as this act way was a massive pain in the butt way back then, I now miss it massively as the experience of listening to music has become so generic over the years.
I was pretty reluctant to move to a streaming service for many reasons. The main one being that very few of them have proven to be an effective model for supporting the growth of the emerging artists. I know The Black Keys and several other high profile artists have spoken out about their involvement with services, and even as cool as Spotify and the others are, they still prevent people from spending $16.99 on an album on iTunes. This model is dead and it will never recover. So whether they like it or not, streaming services are here to stay.
The only people it seems making money from the streaming services, are the labels, the ISP’s, and the service providers themselves. For the independent artist, there’s likely to be zero money made from streaming services like Spotify, as it works out something around .001c per stream. So it would take literally hundreds of thousands and thousands of streams to cover a weeks rent in an apartment in any city. [click for more info on the streaming music artist breakdown].
Anyway. Here’s a snap shot on the pros and cons on each service – only one passed the Gerry Test. R-Dio.
There was such a massive hullabuloo when they launched in Australia, that I was literally chomping at the bit to sign up – purely to experience this first hand. Here’s the pros and cons:
- Massive catalogue
- Good iPhone application
- Ability to share music easily enough
- Theres an offline mode (to play when on the move and not eat into your data plan)
- Ability to create/collaborate playlists with your facebook friends
- Applications built around the API makes for some seriously great second level application builds – eg LastFM, TripleJ etc.
- Allows LastFM to scrobble
- You can NOT sign up without facebook integration
- Because of the integration with FB, the app posts your listening habits to your wall (but can prevent it – learn how to prevent your friend seeing Spotify stream)
- Theres a download limit
- NO iPad application (at the time. They’ve since launched one) – which was a big one for me, as I stream my music through my home entertainment unit using Apple TV
- Inability to prevent certain artists from getting played on Spotify Radio (I think they may have added this feature in their latest release)
The iphone application was particularly buggy and kept (crashing) – but in the end the biggest gripe was the restrictions around removing my facebook profile. I just don’t think it should be a requirement, and it ultimately should be the users decision whether or not they want to part with the data.
So along came MOG, a service I’d signed up wayyyyy back in the day when it was a social network in 2005-2006. Their introduction into the Australian market was extremely timely, as many of the early adapters to Spotify would have already faced the same problems I faced. They also provided me with a golden carrot – unlimited streaming-data on Telstra. This appealed to me as I’m with Telstra Mobile for my business, so it was a win win for me, plus I was given a months free trial to boot. Initially I loved it. But it wasn’t to last!
Here’s some of the pros and cons:
- Optional Facebook integration (ding ding!)
- A big catalogue of music (not as big as Spotify)
- Monthly subscription was marginally cheaper
- They “seemed” to be a little more open about things when I bombarded the customer service with questions about service offering before I left Spotify
- iPad application that allowed streaming to my Apple TV
- Stream and download as much as I want on 3G (which by the way was remarkably good)
- High quality streams. All the time. (Yes. it’s a quality that’s noticeable)
- Ability to listen to music downloaded “offline”
- Their iPhone application UI is so bad. It’s slow, and looks like a beta version of an application from 2009. Oh and it crashes all the time.
- Their iPad application is good and better than their iPhone app (not hard). But the UI still falls short of where the bench mark should be
- Clunky to sync albums between devices
- Doesn’t allow scrobbling with LastFM
- The biggest one for me (that they never mention in their promotional material) – is that you can ONLY download the music to your iPhone/Android devices. So if like me, you listen to albums on repeat via your computer, you’d quickly eat into your monthly data allowance from your ISP.
After 2 months on MOG I become so frustrated that I decided I’d trial both Rdio and Mog at the same time – side by side. Once I did this – I cancelled my account pretty much straight away. It was like comparing Shergar to the donkey out of Shrek.
I’m 6 weeks into my paid Rdio experience, and I have to say – it’s excellent. Seriously trumps the other two in terms of overall “experience”. The iOS applications are flawless, and the ease of exploring music is lovely.
Here’s the Pros and Cons:
- Gorgeous desktop and iPhone applications
- Streams via Apple TV
- Auto sync between iOS devices
- High quality downloads
- Ability to listen to music “offline”
- Optional Facebook and Twitter integration
- There’s definitely a noticeable shortage of tunes on Rdio compared to Spotify – but the majority of artists that I am into are on Rdio
- The suggested music section is a little bit crap
- Doesn’t allow scrobbling with LastFM
- Automatically continues to play after an album finishes – randomly playing music from other downloads (I still can’t figure out how to turn this “feature” off)
Update: Rdio contacted me to see if I wanted to get my Minus Circus releases onto Rdio. Of course I accepted (nothing to lose), but in return they gave me a free lifetime subscription. Now that is what I call great marketing. I’ve since introduced several other people to the service as a result.
All in all – there’s a pros and cons for each, but I’m a stickler for good quality UI, and a good experience. A product shouldn’t make the user feel frustrated, especially when on the move. Try using a crappy UI when you’re walking in a busy street….
This is why I’ll be sticking with Rdio.