I had tried Spotify before using Unblock-Us, but I couldn’t sign up to the service with a Brazilian credit card. Anyway, having to organize my song collection through the exclusive use of playlists was a major deal breaker, and I had decided to stick to Rdio, even though the Spotify catalogue seemed better suited to my tastes, from my limited experience.
While Spotify’s collection feature is a great addition, which finally makes the service usable for me, it’s still inferior to Rdio’s implementation.
On the Mac, you can view a grid of artists, but once you choose a particular artist, all you get is a list of songs which are sorted by album. Rdio on the other hand offers the possibility to view a more compact list of artists on the side, while offering a grid view of an artist’s albums, which can be toggled to a list view of songs sorted by album.
On iOS, there is no grid view, but the same problems hold. Once you are viewing you album collection, there is no way to filter by artist. If you navigate to an artist, you can only see the list of songs by that artist. There’s no way to see a list of albums.
On the mac, I also find the album covers in the grid view too large. Using the Spotify app on full screen on my 13" Retina Macbook Pro, I can see 4 albums per row. Comparing that to iTunes, which shows 8 albums in a row I find it much easier to browse my collection on iTunes than on Spotify. While Rdio shows only 5 albums per row at most on my laptop screen, it’s not as much of a problem since there’s the ability to filter the album grid by artist, which is what is actually lacking in Spotify.
As a side note, I also enjoy Rdio’s lighter style over Spotify’s predominantly black design.
As to pricing, Spotify is currently cheaper, with its premium plan at $5.99 per month. Rdio’s unlimited plan is currently priced at $9.99 per month.
With all that said, even though I find the Rdio app superior, the choice of services is no longer a no brainer. Spotify’s new collection feature, while lacking in several aspects, is good enough to make me seriously consider it over Rdio. The defining factor is no longer the apps, but the catalogues offered by each service.
The dreadful licensing issues continue to be present, limiting the experience for international users on Spotify, and all similar services. It’s one thing if an artist or label decides not to distribute its content through streaming services at all, or licenses exclusively to a single service. However, regional limitations for availability of specific pieces of content feel artificial and are poisonous to the TV, music and movies industry. It is an artifact of a time before content distribution had the means to be as ubiquitous at it is today. It has to go. ↩