A little over 2 months ago, Beats Music launched and I gave it a go. I didn't care for the app, or the fact that it's pretty much mobile-only. I loved the Jazz stations, but was severely disappointed by several large and significant (to me) gaps in their library across various genres.

I bring this up now mostly to get it out of the way, but also, because I ran in to a very similar situation around 18 months ago when I finally decided to go with a streaming music service.

At that time, I was evalutaing Rdio and Spotify. I'd been using Spotify Free a little bit here and there, but hadn't really been sold yet. I downloaded both apps, signed up for an Rdio account and started switching back and forth between them. Now, I'm going to set the tone here: I hate iTunes. The Spotify desktop apps take a lot of design and UI queues from iTunes.

My initial impressions were simple though. Rdio had better designed apps, but they were very buggy and extremely slow and resource heavy. Rdio was also missing a lot of music I wanted. I deleted Rdio and gave Spotify my credit card and haven't really looked back since.

Comparing the Two


Fast-forward to 2014. The complaints I've had about Spotify haven't gone away. Since launch they've had a glaring billing issue where you have to make a new account if you want to add or update an Amex card. They still absolutely refuse to acknowledge that they fucked up by ignoring convention and common sense when they decided that the 'close' button should not, in fact, close the app, but instead minimize it. They keep promising new features like "Play To" (remote control) and device transitioning (playing a playlist on your phone, walk into your house and transfer play to your PC) but in reality have been extremely slow to actually implement anything. In fact, with the exception of a few changes to the social sidebar (mostly turning it off), Spotify is almost exactly the same beast I signed up for a year and a half ago.


On the flip-side, Rdio has made huge strides. So far I haven't run into a single gap in my library. In fact I've actually been able to find songs that I was previously missing with Spotify. Their apps have stabilized while keeping up-to date with design and features. I can use my Amex instead of going round-about using Paypal. I can remote control my PC at home and my iMac at work from my HTC One. And best of all, I don't have to ever deal with a support team who seems to think that users don't actually know what they want when they request features and fixes.

Oh, and Rdio radio stations are actually good.

The Breakdown


Pros Cons
Huge Library Archaic Interface
A lot of people use it I just can't care about the crammed down-your throat social crap
320 kbps Streaming Breaks common-sense and the Close button
Amex cards won't validate unless you're creating a new account
A lot of known issues(like the Amex problem) that have persisted for years. They just don't care.
Slow iteration and a lot of un-kept promises
Probably the worst music recommendation system out there.
Web player has a worse interface than the app. And just about everything you do stops playback.


Pros Cons
Huge Library They don't have every single song out there.
They accept Amex. And it works.
Modern design that doesn't ape the worst music player out there.
Modern features such as Remote Play
The ability to add music to your collection letting you manage what you listen to better
A good recommendation engine that allows you to adjust variation from the theme(artist,playlist,genre,etc) on the fly
A clean, well-designed web player that works well, rarely interupts playback, and when it does, resumes exactly where you left off.

Two-Bit Summary

Spotify's done. I'm cancelling my Premium account today and giving Rdio my money from here on out. And the awesome part is that this decision hasn't been even remotely hard. Rdio is so far ahead of Spotify this go round that I can't help but wonder why everyone isn't switching.