Rising competitors to Pandora, Spotify and Rdio both offer free and subscription-based streaming Internet radio services; however, Rdio is an exclusively web-based program, while Spotify can be heard offline with downloadable software as well as online on its recently launched web player. Also, Rdio offers its service ad-free, while the only way Spotify users can eliminate ads is by buying a subscription. Spotify’s free model is supported by advertisements that interrupt the stream between songs. Rdio’s model is not ad-supported, but the free service is only available for the first 6 months; a subscription fee applies after that period ends.
|Platforms||Web, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Mac OS X, Windows||Mac, PC, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC, Mac, PS3, PS4, various set-top boxes, web|
|Can user pick songs?||Yes||Yes|
|Availability||United States, Canada, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Israel, Netherlands, Belgium, Mexico, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Colombia, Chile||Available in dozens of countries and territories.|
|Introduction||Rdio is an ad-free music subscription service.||Spotify is a commercial music streaming service providing Digital Rights Management-protected content from record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal.|
|Registration||First 6 months free. Paid subscription required thereafter.||Required|
|Opened||3 August 2010||2006|
|Pricing model||Subscription||Ad-based, subscription|
|Country of origin||United States||Sweden|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, CA||London, England and Stockholm, Sweden|
|No. of Offline Songs||As many as your device can handle||Up to 3,333 songs on up to 3 devices|
Both services are available to use on your home computer through their website, as a download, or as an application for mobile devices like smart phones.
To use Rdio, the company requires that you sign in with either an email address or your Facebook account. After you sign in, you are free to stream free music with commercial interruption. Rdio is on Apple, Windows Phone, Android, and Blackberry mobile devices. It is also available on Windows and Apple computers.
To use Spotify, users must first download a program, and then log in to the service using a Facebook account. Spotify is available on the same platforms, but it is also available on Linux operating systems, plus smart TV and DVRs like Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Squeezebox, and TiVo.
Rdio offers two paid subscription levels. There is a $4.99/month computer-based service that you can use at home. For $9.99 per month, you can use Rdio on your home computer as well as any compatible mobile computing device, like an iPad (directly, or through Airplay). There are no advertisements with a paid subscription.
Spotify offers just one subscription level: $9.99 per month for computer and mobile streaming. Like Rdio, there are no advertisements with a paid subscription. Both services are available free on your computer and mobile device. Spotify's ad-supported free service is available forever. However, Rdio limits free trials to 6 months, and limits the amount of free streamed music in that time period. There are a few advertisements, and the free Rdio service is only available in the United States and Australia.
Both Rdio and Spotify allow users to create playlists, search for music, and play music on-demand. A key difference is that Rdio does not play advertisements between songs. However, Rdio only allows the use of this no-charge ad-free service for the first 6 months - users must sign up for a paid subscription (still ad-free) after that period. Spotify allows unlimited ad-supported use in the United States.
In August 2013, it was reported that Rdio would launch a free ad-supported service in Australia.
Both Rdio and Spotify offer “offline” song plays on mobile devices. That means you can play your music even when you don't have an Internet connection. There is a difference in how many songs each service allows.
Rdio allows as many song as can fit on a mobile device to be stored offline. Spotify only allows 3,333 songs offline, and they expire after 30 days.
Both Spotify and Rdio claim to offer 20 million or more songs, figures that have likely grown each year since the companies have existed.
However, tech experts who have run comparisons between the two services say that Spotify has a larger music catalog featuring a larger share of popular music. Rdio claims to have partnerships with four large record labels, plus access to the catalogs of song databases, like CD Baby.
Spotify, under Digital Rights Management protection, has license to play songs owned by record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal.
Interface and design
One major difference that users point out is the interface.
Spotify is said to look “boring” and "like it was designed for someone with vision problems.”
According to a review in the New York Times, Rdio emphasizes album art.
Where they differ, drastically, is in their design and usability. For anyone who remembers the feeling of touching a vinyl record or the insert pamphlet of a CD or tape, there was something emotional and raw about seeing and feeling the album cover as you listened to your favorite band. In the digital music world, that’s often difficult to replicate, but Rdio seems to have come pretty close.
The tech blog Indie Wiretap wrote:
As a longtime Spotify user, I’ll admit that their mobile platform is less than impressive. Difficult to navigate at times and a 'available offline’ button that requires marine sniper-like precision can be a hindrance, which is something that Rdio does a good job of addressing. The Rdio mobile platform is attractive and easier to navigate, and also allows the storage of a bajillion songs as opposed to Spotify’s limit of 3,333 available tracks.
Social Media Integration
Spotify has added a social aspect to the service by collaborating with Facebook. Spotify users can post their playlists to Facebook, and allow their friends to listen along to songs with them. Facebook users can download Spotify directly through Facebook. In January 2014, Spotify also teamed up with Last.fm, a social media website that focuses solely on music.
Rdio users can share songs and playlists among friends, but only through the Rdio website. The streaming service acts as its own social media website, allowing users to build networks with friends and strangers. One Rdio social feature allows users to “drag and drop” songs into their friends’ playlist.
Although Spotify is universally more popular – some even call it the most popular music streaming service – Rdio debuted in the United States well before. Aside from the U.S. and UK, Spotify is available in Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey.
Spotify became available to U.S. users in July 2011 (it was initially available in the United Kingdom beginning in 2009). Rdio was launched and made available in the U.S. in August 2010. Rdio is also available in Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Belgium, Mexico, Hong Kong, Colombia, Chile, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, and Austria.
In Recent News
Spotify has recently revealed its rights to Led Zepplin and opened free mobile access. In other news:
- Spot the Spotify Payment - Digital Audio Insider
- Wikipedia: Spotify
- Spotify Official Website
- Online Music Service Rdio in Deal With Cumulus - NYTimes.com
- Rdio's Free Service Is Freer Than Spotify for a While - The Wire
- Rdio Launches Ad-Supported Web Service in Australia - Billboard.com
- CD Baby
- What's the Best Music Streaming Service? - Yahoo Tech (Jan. 21, 2014)
- Did Someone Say On Demand? - Last.fm Blog (Jan. 29, 2014)