Henry’s Tech Tips: Spotify or Rdio?

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Henry’s Tech Tips: Spotify or Rdio? 

Written by: Henry Chen, Grade 12



When I was in 5th grade, the only way I could listen to music was to set up a massive audio player which played cassette tapes and CDs. This is the year that YouTube celebrated its 2nd birthday and the iPod was just getting popular. When I was in grade 6, I had to move from my beloved home in Vancity to the small town of Duncan on Vancouver Island so my Dad could complete his rural training for his medical license. Keep in mind – this is around 150 kilometres away from the nearest shopping mall. However, when the new albums were released, my dad would hit the highway and drive me 150 kilometres to the nearest HMV store to purchase the latest CD album of my favourite singers. I didn’t have the concept of online music listening until 2009, when I finally had the chance to explore YouTube. From then on, I no longer required my dad to take to the highway so I could enjoy the newly released songs from my favourite singers; all it took was a simple YouTube search.


I got my first phone when I was in grade 8; this is considered extremely “late” to most students today, who are getting phones as early as grade 6… I’m getting sidetracked here. Back to the topic… Moving along… As I explored Apple’s App Store this year, I found 2 interesting apps related to music: Spotify and Rdio. Curious, I downloaded both and expected to be comparing both services as I would Pepsi and Coca-Cola. However, it turns out that despite the number of similarities between both apps, each has its own purpose and the way that both are built made it impossible to do a fair and comprehensive comparison.


“Henry, what’s better? Spotify or Rdio?”


I get asked this question a lot, so allow me to explain using simple non-techy terms:


Spotify and Rdio both share the same similarities: they can both stream music on demand; both programs have offline access to songs; and both allow you to create your own playlist, shuffle them, and play them on demand (on demand = at any time / place). However, they differ significantly in other ways:


Spotify gives you not only the ability to listen to music on demand and create your own playlists, but also the chance to browse through pre-curated playlists that match each mood. For example, when you’re hosting a party and you just happen to run out of songs, there is a party category from the list of moods to choose from.  My favourite genre is soft pop and to my delight, a soft pop section pops up as I browse through the choices of music. Most importantly, your music browsing and listening history is all private. Your own custom created playlists remain private until you share it with the public. Spotify provides a lot of privacy for its users.


Rdio, on the other hand, considers your account as a “radio station,” (hence the name “Rdio”… aka. radio…) meaning that all of your activity is published for the public to see. Your playlists become public automatically and your recent listening activity is displayed whenever someone visits your profile. This is good if you enjoy sharing what you listen to daily with your friends and followers; you have now become a radio station! One last thing that differentiates Rdio from Spotify is that you don’t get to browse through pre-curated playlists of different genres. Rdio is a service that lets you throw together your own playlists and listen to them on demand. It is not meant for you to listen to playlists already published unless you are browsing another person’s profile and digging to find their listening history and custom playlists.


Clearly, both services offer different types of user experience. While choosing which app to go with, please keep the following in mind: Spotify has a known issue: it continues to store cache on your mobile device until it runs out of space. The only way (currently) is to delete the app from your smartphone and re-install it to clear the cache that slowly but quietly hogs up your free space. Rdio, to my understanding though tests, does not contain this problem.


The verdict? Well… use Spotify if you like having pre-arranged playlists of different genres available for you at any time and if you want privacy and protection from stalkers who are interested in your listening history. Use Rdio if you love sharing what you have been listening to with your followers and want to mimic hosting your own radio station.


Although I titled this “Spotify or Rdio,” there really isn’t a fair battle between both of these services. They’re like Facebook and Twitter; both are similar but different in the user experience. Personally, I use both because each serves a different purpose for me.


These are just the basic differences between the two on-demand music streaming services. Of course, there is more to contrast than what I have written about, but to keep it short and simple, these are the main differences. If you have any questions about these “Tech Tip,” please don’t hesitate to find me on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays in lab 206.


Finally, if you have any general tech-related questions, please feel free to ask me (stop me in the hallway if you need to!) or even any one of my Student Tech Team members; you can easily identify us with a black golf shirt and the words “Tech Team” written on the back. More “Tech Tips” in future publications!