A Love Letter to Rdio

Why I held on when I knew Rdio wouldn’t make it

Nov 20, 2015 · 5 min read

Right now I’m in denial, the first of the five stages of grief. I don’t want to believe that my favorite music streaming service, the soundtrack to my life over the last four years, is coming to an end.

I have never felt loyalty for a product like I do with Rdio. So much loyalty, in fact, that I heckled my friends to adopt Rdio over Spotify.

It got 33 likes.

On our first date, I hit it off with my now-boyfriend because we both used Rdio.

He reminded me the other day.

I tweeted at their help account when something went wrong, because I wanted them to be the best.

I probably sound crazy. But since 2011, Rdio has been a big part of my life on a daily, if not hourly basis. The Rdio app sits pinned to the bottom dock of my phone, next to my texts and email. Its website is basically always open as a tab when I’m on my computer. In a nutshell, Rdio allowed me to access the music I wanted and discover new music in a way that was reliable, enjoyable, and beautiful.

Yet I knew the end was coming. Since the round of company layoffs around this time in 2013, people said it was only a matter of time. But I wanted to believe that a superior product could win.

There are hardly any disputes in the tech world over Rdio’s beautiful UI. What I didn’t know until today was that Rdio’s core design is the reason I love it so:

“The founding premise was the best music recommendations come from the people you know. That was the whole idea.”

Truth. I am lucky to have friends who are amazing tastemakers. And I discovered that because of Rdio.

Connecting with Strangers… but Strangers with Great Taste

Here’s a funny thing that I didn’t piece together until writing this, and a feature that will be totally lost forever. Rdio lets music enthusiasts find each other.

I don’t know how they came across it, but Rdio tweeted about my “Chill out it’s French” chillwave French language playlist for Bastille day:

I was ecstatic. Then, a complete stranger sent me a message on Facebook:

Who would have expected this interaction from a music streaming service?

And actually, before that message, there was Josh, another stranger nice enough to give a shoutout:

So appreciated. And though I haven’t done it publicly before now, I have a few shoutouts for my favorite Rdio strangers/music enthusiasts:

MusicologyNYC, I don’t actually know you, but you have awesome monthly playlists.

jfryleon, you are the most avid Rdio user I’ve ever seen. When I think I’ve found something new you’ve always gotten to it first.

kunalbhat, your playlist of album covers with circles on them is genius.

treeves2, thanks for following my monthly playlists.

And beyond my small Rdio community, there are hundreds of others leaving comments as album reviews to say farewell (see it here).

What I Want From My Music Streaming Service

To make the best of this whole situation, this is part of my love letter to Rdio, to honor its amazing features and avenues of music discovery, and to begrudgingly pass along my suggestions to the Spotify engineering team.

Here is my list of demands:

  • I want to see an artist’s entire album catalog, instantly. I want release dates visible. And don’t make me scroll down.
  • I want to discover albums and artists through record labels.
  • I want to follow my friends’ every move through listening history. I want to see what they were listening to at 2:30pm or the playlist they put on at last weekend’s party. I want to see what music they added to their collection this morning. I want to see if they’ve listened to my playlist yet, and how long ago it was. I want to see if I am the first of my friends to listen to an album.
  • Oh yeah and look really good while doing it all. Like maybe put the album art next to each track in a playlist.

In Memoriam

I’m reminding myself that in 2011, I was a casual Rdio user who still relied heavily on the mp3s in my iTunes library. Now I wince when iTunes appears on my dock. I feel less irritated by Spotify, thank goodness. But it’s far from perfect. It’s like someone took Gmail away and now you have to use Apple Mail for the rest of your life. Same basic functions, clunkier design.

Rdio was the playlist that kept me going on every run, the collaborative playlist at every party, the soundtrack to road trips and plane rides. Rdio was on during every morning commute, got me through many long days at work, and was probably on during the commute home too. Rdio was there for everyday moments.

Today I mourn for all the undiscovered amazing music ahead in our futures. Rdio, you truly embodied what music discovery is supposed to be.

Team Rdio forever. Xoxo.

What’s next for us Rdio users? I feel like the default option is to go green. Rdio hasn’t announced the plan for us yet, but I’m preparing to export my playlists over with http://soundiiz.com/#/converter.

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