RDIO is a “new” streaming service for Australians. Starting in 2010, it conducted a soft launch in Australia early in 2010, and officially opened it’s service to Australia on 20th January.
It is founded by Nikias Zenstrom and Janus Friss, founders of infamous music piracy software Kazaa (as well as VOIP software Skype), but RDIO is working within the music industry, with a paid and licensed streaming service.
One thing I like about the service, is that it can be used on most platforms. It has a web based client and also has dedicated client for iOS, Android, Blackberry and even the Sonos sound platform. It can also has an API which has been liked to Facebook and Last.FM. Testing on Windows 7, Mac OS Lion and Android shows that the interface is crisp and easy to navigate. It will sync your Windows Media and iTunes libraries to the service, giving access to those songs with the service (in theory).
As mentioned before, the content available to Aussies is a small subset of the normal libraries available to US and European customers. This hinders the service as many songs I had in iTunes did not apear in my RDIO library. This also hampers one of the main selling points of RDIO, its musical discovery feature.
LAST.FM and Pandora both have extensive data collection and uses this date to recommend songs (or stream them). While RDIO uses a social media mechanism for musical discovery (using Facebook, AOL, Gmail and Twitter) this requires your connections (friends in other words) to use this service to get the most benefit. And the lack of a large library means that the musical recommendations are not that useful as the service will only recommend legally available songs.
However, using social media as a music recommendation tool is a great idea, if only because people trust people rather than a faceless algorithm.
The lack of user data and music is not a killer problem but a problem none the less. Slowly the recommendations will improve when more social network connections and songs become available to RDIO. The underlying infrastructure is sound, it needs more data to work with.
If the songs are available, you can easily create playlists for listening. You are limited to Windows and OS X computers to create and edit playlists, but they are playable on almost all the platforms available in Australia. On computers, you can use the web based client or a dedicated application, whichever is better for the user. While it would be nice to use smart phones and tablets to create and edit playlists, it must be on the agenda for further upgrades for the service.
You can get a short trial period, and the plans for web streaming is $8.90 (unlimited) and web and mobile device streaming is $12.90. This compares poorly with Last.FM who charge EUR3 (A$3.78) a month. However LAST.FM does not have its streaming apps available to Australian App stores, so RDIO is available for more devices. Added to that is the fact that RDIO also has a download service means that you do not have to be connected to the Internet to get music.
Personally, I would wait before subscribing to RDIO, unless you have a lot of friends using the service now. But the underlining service is sound, and only needs time and negotiations with music labels and rights holders for this be become a great service for Aussies and Kiwis.