Friday, November 20, 2015

Rdio & The Music Industry

I'm grumpy that Rdio couldn't make it through the forrest of crappy music services that end-users lapped up in the name of "free." Especially when it comes to artistic endeavors, look past your wallet sometimes folks; life is better in the end when we do.

Clients & Services

Pandora's winding down of Rdio bums me out. While the landscape is littered with music playback clients (iTunes (or whatever it is now), YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud, etc etc), there isn't a single one that gets the music listening experience right for the end user. All of them have significant deficiencies. Rdio was closest though.

Today's end-user music experience requires high-quality music files (320kbps+), seamless offline playback (consistent, high-throughput, low-latency, network access is a myth), cross-platform support (browser, iOS, Android, Sonos), social networking, access to _all_ the music out there, ad-free playback, and playlisting (I can't believe I have to even mention this one). Rdio was the service that got closest to all of this, however it just didn't have critical mass; sadly.

Money

Who's to blame? Obviously, us (the end-users) at the end of the day. In our quest for saving money, we demanded that our experience be littered with advertising so we could "listen" to music. While the industry needs[ed] a revenue model reset, "streaming" harried the process and now we're throwing babies out with bathwater to try and keep up and build a new model that appropriately distributes dollars to artists and middle-men. It starts with us being willing to pay though.

I don't have any answers to how the overall landscape should shake out, but I do like some of the thinking from Imogem Heap around how money should move. I believe Rdio, despite its own issues (of which there are plenty), had the end-user experience closest to correct. It's a shame it's going away. Like my fellow Rdio users, I'm now cast into the wasteland of VHS quality music experiences because the industry couldn't get its shit together. I want my Beta!

What Now?

My friend Kevin figured out a way to migrate from Rdio to Google Music and posted about it here. I've exported my playlists (using Rdio Enhancer) and posted them here. Rdio's announcement says they're going to provide exporting capabilities before they shut it down. I'm curious to see how that goes.

I'd much prefer that Pandora reverse its headspace on Rdio, and instead of shuddering it, double-down with it. Lift it up and push the overall industry forward here. You have an opportunity to set the right experiences (for the end-user, and musicians/artists) in motion for all of us.

For the record, I've always been a card-carrying, full-paying, subscriber to Rdio (RIP).

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