A Eulogy for Rdio

From Robinson Meyer, in The Atlantic:

At its best, Rdio had perhaps the kindest community in online music. People left comments on albums, and, lo and behold, the writing was good and interesting. Strangers constructed playlists that pulled from artists and albums you’d never heard of, but without the performative high/low-ness that afflicts so much online music talk.

Spotify is a revelation: It feels like you’re discovering the radio station that all your friends have been listening to this whole time. It feels, actually, like the Top 40 radio people went and made a music app: It’s hyper-condensed and just a little too overproduced and always mid-commercial (even if you pay for premium) and yet—dammit—like a college acquaintance who got rich right after school, it’s somehow stayed hip.

Rdio, on the other hand, was cool. It went with sky-blue over neon green. It felt like Internet people made it. (Partly because they actually did…)

I will miss Rdio very much.

What was Rdio? Some interface choices and a lot of code and what I’m sure were a dyspeptic pile of licensing agreements; an organization with internal politics and designers who fiddled in Photoshop for hours and reports with charts that maybe had all their lines pointing in the wrong direction. But to me, it’s a snowy day in a café north of Chicago, mid-afternoon, coffee at my side, as I sit feeling anxious and gallant and languid, and I hunt for something to listen to.

Gabe Kangas, Goodbye Rdio:

Rdio’s shutdown isn’t just a loss to me, or the people I share an office with every day. It’s a loss to the world of music. Rdio was the service for music lovers, by music lovers. In this world of The Streaming Services vs. The Music Business it’s not enough to love music to keep the lights on.

Koven J. Smith, On losing Rdio:

Yeah, so I accept that it’s a little weird to write a eulogy for a website. I accept that it’s completely self-indulgent to have gone into a deep funk over what is, effectively, a business going under (much less a business tin which I have no financial stake). But that’s what I’m here to do, because today the music streaming service Rdio will go dark. And I’m pretty damn sad about it.

They keep coming. Richard Beck in n+1, I am here to demonize Spotify:

But Spotify also degrades the experience of listening to music. Like the rest of the internet, it encourages impatience. You listen to a track or album, and if it doesn’t grab you right away, you skip to the next thing, and then you never come back to it. You may intend to, but you won’t.

… opening the app on my phone just now, I’m being asked to delve into something called Organic Experimental.” The platform is a fire hose of asinine recommendations for songs you haven’t heard that were only recommended to you because they’re as similar as possible to songs you have. (In the words of one Guardian writer: You like bread? Try toast!”) In pursuit of its goal of perfect, frictionless streaming, Spotify encourages you to outsource the work of deciding what you like and dislike, and of figuring out why. In other words, it discourages listening to music as such.

Listening to Spotify is like listening to a radio station run by the stupidest version of myself.

November 17, 2015