Thoughts on Rdio

For the past several weeks, I’ve been using (and loving) Rdio to play music at my desk and through my iPhone. As a long time record geek/chronic music hoarder, it was a tough decision to let go of the need to own everything I want to listen to. ((I credit Netflix streaming for easing me into this concept)) When it comes down to it, however, access easily trumps ownership. It’s pretty incredible to want to listen to some jazz and with a couple of clicks be able to call up the entire Blue Note catalog.

It’s no secret that this model is the future of content consumption. I do think more work needs to be done to make these subscription services feel a little more like ownership. What’s the digital equivalent of the excitement teenage me felt when frantically unwrapping cellophane packaging in my car? I’m not sure, but as great as these services are, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m just browsing through the record collection of a friend’s cool older brother.

There are a few features that I’m really hoping the Rdio team adds or improves to increase that feeling of ownership:

  • An easier way to browse through the music in my collection. At home, I can look through the spines of my CDs and records. On iTunes, I can use grid view or cover flow for a more visual experience. Currently, Rdio allows you to browse your full collection alphabetically or with a visual bubble chart of my most played music. This makes it difficult to find anything in a larger collection.
  • I love a beautifully curated playlists, but I like listening to full albums better. I’d love to be able to group and sort the albums in my collection. This could be the digital equivalent of Rob Fleming reorganizing his record shelf. (( Rob Fleming is the protagonist in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and played by John Cusack in the film adaptation. ))
  • The ability to add all the albums by an artist with one click. As I previously mentioned, I’m a music hoarder, so when I decide I want to listen to Thin Lizzy, I want to hear everything by Thin Lizzy.

I hope this doesn’t come across as overly critical. I am truly loving my experience with Rdio and have found myself listening to more music than usual over the past several weeks. It’s my hope that services such as Rdio continue to improve and provide music lovers with easy access to a wide vary of sounds while supporting artists.

Update: The new version of the Rdio app allows you to browse only the albums you've synced to your device. Yay!