Spotify is Microsoft. Rdio is Apple.

I started using Rdio almost 13 months ago, according to my account statistics. I was working at Next Big Sound, everyone around me was raving about Rdio and Spotify had yet to launch in the US. I gave Rdio a casual spin, dropping $5 on a monthly subscription and using it occasionally in addition to the limited iTunes library on my MacBook Air.

Somewhere around April or May, I noticed my Rdio usage ramping up. I was continually sharing music and finding new things to listen to in the activity stream. The friction to discover a new, unknown album was practically zero. I’d try a new album every morning as I biked to work, occasionally stopping to change albums because my morning experiment had gone so horribly awry.

Then Spotify launched in July in the US. So I gave it a try for a few days. I didn’t really like it and went back to Rdio, without thinking much of it. 

You don’t even have to pay attention to music, startups or their intersection to realize that Rdio is incredibly quiet compared to Spotify. Spotify is everywhere you look. You hear about it; people talk about it; it’s plastered all over Facebook in that CNN-like ticker on the side. 

I think Spotify initially felt so sexy to everyone who used it because they couldn’t have it for so long. It’s like everyone had one or two friends in Europe with a legal version of Napster for the 21st century and everyone in the US felt left out. When Spotify opened the gates in July, we couldn’t get enough.

You always want what you can’t have. 

The funny thing is, Rdio is a better product. Far and away better. It almost feels like a secret to those of us who use it.

But when I look at both products side-by-side, Rdio has soul. It’s got color. There are album covers and user avatars everywhere that attach a human side to the music. Albums that you know nothing about sit there waiting, inviting you to listen with their album covers and recommendations from friends.

Rdio feels human. Spotify feels sterile. It’s the same feeling I remember having right after I got my first computer from Apple (a PowerBook G4). The Dell I had before it was cold, gray and bulky. My Mac was sleek, silver and somehow just felt more personal.

The one feature that I think Spotify does much better is the music inbox. The fact that I can send someone a song, directly to them, without email, Twitter or Facebook, is fantastic. Plus, Spotify is everywhere. They have an incredible marketing department that makes sure Spotify is in your face, all the time. When you think music subscription service, you think Spotify, not Rdio. 

Just playing the odds of my audience here, I’m guessing you’re reading this post on some Apple device. And you know that thought that goes through your head when you see a person that you really like using a Windows machine, How can they actually stand that thing? That’s what I think when I see people using Spotify. 

Give Rdio a try. You won’t look back.

10 Notes

  1. zackshapiro posted this