Name That App: Rdio

**As published at digiday:DAILY** Publisher: Rdio Price: $9.99 for unlimited web and mobile, $4.99 for unlimited web Platform: iOS and BlackBerry Advertising: None Functionality: B+ Fun Factor: B Overall: B+ Music has turned out to be a rather tough proposition on mobile. While apps like Pandora have soared in both popularity and revenue-generation capabilities, other apps like RealNetworks’ Rhapsody have garnered less favorable reviews and market penetration. Still, there are a growing number of free and subscription-based streaming services to choose from, which makes the “music on mobile” market all the more compelling to participate in. Case in point: The Rdio app.

Pronounced r-dee-o, Rdio is one of the latest startups to focus on music, and already, I find myself fighting the urge to become a fan. Because of its simplicity, unique mobile component, and seemingly pure and independent nature, I can’t help but root for the success and growth of the service. Rdio is decidedly simple, but I would argue that’s part of what it brings to the table. The service can be managed purely online with a simple user interface that also allows subscribers to sync songs or entire albums directly to their mobile devices. I enjoyed being able to manage everything online, including the songs that get synched to my mobile phone for non-streaming use. A simple feature like that is bound to drive usage and get subscribers more engaged with the service on their smart phone – a key step toward driving critical mass on mobile. Rdio has lined up licensing deals with the big four music labels and a pair of independent houses, but the content selection still needs to be expanded. I found myself digging deeper into catalogs of some of my favorite artists, particularly with b-sides and live material – but at other times, I expected more choices of both songs and artists. Rdio has a dashboard that lets the user view all of the music in their collection or their entire network’s collection, which includes all the users you’ve linked up with on the service. The self-described “people-powered” platform encourages users to “discover music through people, not machines” and share to their hearts’ content on Twitter and Facebook. My guess is that Rdio believes there is greater social significance in a friend’s recommendation versus any automated code no matter how intelligent and music-driven it might be. That’s unfortunate, because the automated suggestions we’ve all grown accustomed to on Pandora, Slacker and iTunes Genius are sorely missing from this particular app. So, while I’ve been using Rdio online, on a BlackBerry and iPod Touch for about a week now and I can’t say I’m eager to drop $9.99 a month for the service once my free trial ends. That said, being an invite-only service for the time being, I hope things improve enough to change my mind soon. If Rdio can expand its catalog, encourage more interaction between users, and somehow, better integrate my massive existing catalog with its unlimited list of tunes, I’d be willing to pay. And just maybe, I could finally put an even tighter clamp on my CD shopping sprees.

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