Rdio was launched in 2010 by Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, after which Billboard named it “startup of the year.” The service’s seven day free trial doesn’t require a credit card, and it offers two plans — $5/month for unlimited web access and $10/month for unlimited web and mobile. Reports released last year put Rdio’s library at about seven million tracks — a markedly lower number than the competition’s, for now anyway.
Positives: Rdio’s minimal, clean interface is easy to use. Its social feature allows users to follow friends, as well as labels and media outlets. The app integrates well with the website, allowing users to download playlists from the site to their mobile devices easily, and its solid recommendation engine is based on listening habits.
Negatives: The Rdio app is almost too spare. It’s simple and monochromatic, and maybe even a little dull. Recommendations link to full albums, not tracks, and require several clicks to listen to the music. And while the recommendation engine and other social aspects are great for discovery, it often takes time for users to spend enough time with the site to build a strong profile, which is something that the seven-day free trial period doesn’t leave a lot of time for.
Who it’s great for: People who want to discover music based on what tastemaking outlets and their friends are listening to will enjoy Rdio. It’s also a quick and easy way to find out and consume what Spin magazine or XLR8R thinks you should be hearing, even if you don’t take the time to build up your social network within the service.