LAST UPDATED: October 3rd, 2019
This company is no longer in business. To view better options for Streaming Music, click here
Rdio (pronounced as "R-dee-oh") was founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, who also developed Skype. Based out of San Francisco, California, it was so named to be a combination of the words radio and audio. It was launched in August 2010 and has since grown to be available in approximately 60 countries, most of which are in North America, South America, and Australia. In its initial stages, users were required to pay for a subscription in order to use Rdio, but in January 2014 the company introduced a free version supported by ads. Their library boasts more than 30 million songs, and they've steadily become a competitor in the streaming music industry.
With music streaming being such a popular and accessible service, Rdio has become a stronger competitor by offering a free option. With their free streaming, you can only listen to their stations (including ads) but not create playlists of your own.
Rdio's subscriptions aren't bad either. The standard subscription, called Unlimited, costs $9.99 per month and gives you access to listen to stations, create playlists, and enjoy ad-free listening. And students are rewarded with a half-price rate of $4.99 per month. You can also download an app and listen to music on just the Web for half price.
Rdio takes it a step further and also offers family discounts. With a family subscription, you can add additional subscriptions to your plan for just $5 per subscription, so you could have as many as five subscriptions for $29.99 a month. If you're not sure if you'll like Rdio, though, they boast a 30-day free trial.
Another point goes to Rdio for their large music library. With over 30 million songs to choose from, you're sure to find tracks you like. Plus, you can submit catalog requests for specific artists, albums, and labels you want access to. Their website is easy to use with a minimal amount of links. You sign up for an account with either your email address or Facebook account, after which you enter personal information, create a username and password, and personalize your stations. You can also download desktop or mobile apps.
With Rdio, you'll be able to create a favorites list (a list of your favorite songs, artists, albums, etc.). Between your favorites and personalizing your stations, you can stream all the music you love. It's available on several different mediums, including the Web, Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Mac, Sonos, and Roku. Since they're available in 60 countries, you'll probably be able to stream their music while you travel as well.
Last but not least, Rdio's customer support is strong. They provide several different ways for you to contact someone with a question, such as emailing, tweeting, posting a question that other users can see and answer, and reading public articles about troubleshooting technical problems. Hopefully you can stream your music without any hiccups, but if you do run into problems you have several options for getting help.
With as many positives as Rdio has, the company has a few significant cons.
To start, Rdio streams songs at a fairly low bit rate. If you're listening on the Web, songs come through at 192 kbps, and if you're listening on your phone, the bit rate is between 96 and 192 kbps. A higher bit rate (320 kbps) is saved for people who pay for the Unlimited subscription. So unless you're willing to pay, you won't enjoy the highest sound quality.
You also have to put up with ads unless you're willing to pay for a subscription. It's great that Rdio offers a free version at all, but like any other free option, someone has to pay for the service, and it falls on Rdio's sponsors.
Compared to other streaming companies, Rdio is also quite inexperienced. They've only been operating for four years, so they haven't had as many years to smooth out problems and enhance the user experience.
The Bottom Line
When all is said and done, Rdio has an extensive library, accessibility in many countries, and pricing plans that please. Like many competitors, it offers personalization features as well. Aside from creating a favorites list, there are also features called People and Trending, which allow you to view tracks that are popular with other users. With Rdio, you can listen to your favorite tracks as well as discover new ones.
If you want all the perks, though, you must be willing to pay for an Rdio subscription.
Despite its drawbacks, Rdio is a growing company that has steadily become a strong competitor in the music streaming world. So if you'd like to try something new that's user-friendly and easy on your wallet, Rdio might just be for you.
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