Rdio has been a great service that I'm sad to see shut down. It's a good lesson that excellent design doesn't matter if you don't have a good marketing strategy. Or maybe their well-intentioned design focus was foiled by the masses just wanting a "free iTunes" along with the familiar "spreadsheet nightmare" interface.
Looking back, some former employees say Rdio sometimes focused on the wrong things. It invested many product cycles in refining its queue — a place to collect things you want to listen to later. Every other music streaming service offers a queue that’s a simple list of tracks. But if you dragged an album or a playlist into Rdio’s queue, Rdio would recognize it as a distinct object, so you could drag and drop an album above a track, or a full playlist below an album. "At the end of the day, that was not a major differentiating factor," says Wilson Miner, who led design at Rdio from its launch until May 2012. "If we hadn’t had something like that, nobody would have noticed and it would have been fine. I still wish we could have solved it, but it was more of a personal quest than a brutally honest assessment of priorities."
I switched to Spotify recently, just a few weeks before this news (mostly because some smaller labels I like were clearly treating rdio licensing as an afterthought), and one of the features is I miss the most is rdio’s excellent queuing system.
I was ranting just last week to my friends about how completely insane and nonsensical Spotify’s queue/ next tracks system is, and that rdio shows exactly how simple and flexible it could be.
Alas, none of them had even noticed, and they are people that work in IT and UX. Which means Miner was sort of correct in assuming nobody would notice if they hadn’t done it… but not totally correct. I noticed.
Seriously, Rdio's queue system was so much better than Spotify's or Apple Music's implementation.
I'm also really gonna miss user reviews.
And yet even with more than 75 million users and 20 million paid users, Spotify still isn’t profitable. It remains to be seen whether Apple or Google can turn their own streaming offerings into viable businesses — or whether they will simply use music as a loss leader to draw consumers further into their respective ecosystems, making the money back on hardware sales or other services.
It's strange how streaming subscriptions are overtaking downloading/purchases but aren't even profitable. It's sad that Rdio's (somewhat feeble) attempt at a sustainable business model helped ruin them.