Forget Spotify, Pandora and Beats Music. I’ve tried them all, and for my money, Rdio is the best streaming music subscription service out there. It has the best app design and, for my tastes, the best music selection. But you have to pay.
An update, though, is trying to make Rdio much more palatable to free users, as well as help all users find new music faster. It’s making the service free to everyone, emphasizing ad-supported stations for free users (with up to 15 times as many tracks as competing services), and new, smart social services for paid users.
The song-recognition app that Apple is baking into Siri in iOS 8 can now play back full tracks thanks to a partnership with Rdio. Users with the Rdio app installed will be able to listen to a whole song tagged in Shazam without having to the leave the app.
Word cloud from Apple’s press release on Beats acquisition. Larger words are more frequent.
I’m a streaming music junkie. I’ve subscribed to Rdio, Spotify and Slacker to rein in my tendency to hoard (and then not back up) music. Putting a tenner on monthly subscriptions for an all-you-can-listen auditory buffet model appealed to me more than an album-binging approach, too.
Still, the Apple and Beats acquisition rumors (now fact) struck me as tone deaf – what does Beats bring that the other services don’t? So I decided to take the Beats app on my iPhone for good long spin.
Video might have killed the radio star, but streaming hasn’t killed the record store. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Stroll into your local record store and you won’t find the dusty-floored wasteland of empty bins you might imagine. Chances are you’ll see something that’s more vibrant, relevant and vital than before.
Like the nerdy know-it-alls at specialty wine stores and comic book shops, today’s typical employee at an indie record store is still a tastemaking wizard — just turned up to 11. Staff picks bear the unerring zeal of the true believer, and staffers are more focused on uncovering stuff that you’ll never find on a Walmart CD shelf.
“Since there’s been a turn to Spotify, Bandcamp and iTunes, we sell way more vinyl,” said Jim Haynes, assistant manager at San Francisco’s Aquarius Records. “We’re at about 75 percent vinyl to 20 percent CD and a smattering of cassettes. People are turning to an even more seemingly obsolete medium.”
Predictions of the end of physical media are as played-out as those reports about the death of rock ‘n’ roll, with everyone and their mother proclaiming that Spotify and other streaming services have killed the local record store. That fear-mongering sounds smart and might even contain a kernel of truth, but the reality is much different.
iTunes Radio still has a long way to go before it catches up with Pandora’s number of subscribers, but in an effort to keep up with increasing royalty costs, Pandora announced this morning that it’s bumping up the monthly subscription price for Pandora One.
Starting in May new subscribers will have to pay $4.99 per month if they want their music stream ad free, which is still cheaper than competitors like Spotify and Rdio (both $9.99 per month).
Apple’s alternative, iTunes Radio is ad-free with $24.99 annual iTunes Match subscription, but Pandora is deciding to just drop the annual subscription option altogether.
In 2001, Apple changed the way music was distributed with the arrival of iTunes, its online digital media store. Since that time, the digital age has evolved rapidly into an era where cassette mix tapes and compact discs are no more. As we enter an era in which the internet serves our every need, alongside digital distribution and the iTunes Store are an increasing number of on-demand music streaming services have become today’s most popular and possibly cost-effective means of accessing the equivalent of walking into your local music store and buying everything.
Unlike Pandora and iTunes Radio (which we’ll cover shortly in another column), on-demand streaming radio allows you to listen to any music in the service library as often as you like.
The competition between the unlimited all-you-can-stream music services is fiercer than ever before, and with the launch of Beats Music this past month, it has become even more difficult to pinpoint the most suitable music subscription for our needs.
However, after hours of research, a comparison of the seven on-demand services on offer (including Beats Music, Spotify, Rdio, Xbox Music, Rhapsody, Sony Music Unlimited, and Google Play Music–see our table below), and some hands-on testing, we’ve managed to narrow down the overwhelming choice to a select few that offer the best overall features and usability. So let’s crack on with the results, shall we?
Rdio users can now ditch the desktop entirely, thanks to an update which brings playlist editing and reviews to the iOS version of the app. No more booting up that dusty old Mac just to remove an accidentally-added song from your “awesomest songs evah” list.
Chances are you’ve already picked your preferred music streaming service by now, but you’ll have another to consider next year when French startup Deezer make its debut in the United States.
The company has avoided the U.S. up until now, citing too much competition, with Spotify, Rdio, Google Play Music All Access, and many others already offering subscription-based music streaming services there. But having already amassed over 5 million paying customers in 185 countries worldwide, it’s ready to do battle with the big guns.