I guess we’ve all heard of the impending demise of Rdio.
As one of the 500k subscribers with good taste in their streaming apps, it’s now time to consider a replacement. Here are my criteria – some of them may vary for you, but it’ll hopefully give you an idea for how you can choose, too.
- Offline sync to mobile (I listen to music when I’m flying a lot)
- Ability to play from my Mac (I listen when I’m working)
- Ability to play on Sonos (the rest of my house)
- Family accounts
- Desktop App (I kill my browser pretty regularly, I don’t want that to interfere with my music)
Nice To Have
- Android Auto support (I don’t have an Android Auto device, but I’m likely to buy one in the near future)
- Account sharing instead of family accounts (it’s cheaper, and my wife and I mostly don’t use the account in different locations at the same time)
Given that the death of Rdio was most likely due to its lack of market share, I decided to only go with major players – this quickly narrowed it down to Google Play Music, Apple Music, and Spotify.
Google Play Music
Out of the box, Google Play Music does okay – it has an excellent selection of music, the mobile app isn’t terrible, and it works on Sonos. YouTube Red is supposed to be pretty nice, too, but it’s currently not available in Australia.
It falls down heavily when using it on my desktop, though. There’s a Chrome extension to hook into my keyboard media buttons, or there are third party apps available, none of which are very good.
Finally, it becomes completely unusable to share with my wife – I obviously can’t sign into my Google account on her phone, and Google still don’t have family accounts (though they have been announce as “coming soon”).
I’ve never had a good relationship with iTunes – it’s always been a clunky beast, and my recent experiments seem to indicate that not much has changed, except for a re-skin of some of the UI. It feels really hacked together. It is a native app, though, so it wins points by not being associated with my browser.
The family account was super janky to setup, I found the UI kept dying on me. Eventually I got through, however, and I hopefully will never need to touch that again (famous last words…).
On the bright side, the Apple Music app for Android is really nice, despite being a recent beta release. There’s no word on if it supports Android Auto, but that’s not an immediate requirement for me, so I’m happy to let it go.
Spotify’s biggest benefit is that it’s not attached to a personal account. Unlike with Google or Apple, my wife and I could share the same account, without needing to share our personal logins. It’s cheating the system slightly, but it’d save us $6/month, so I’m not too concerned about it.
Spotify’s apps have been severely ugly in the past, but the good news is that the Android app is much more useable now. Unfortunately, I was unable to try out the OSX app, because the downloader was broken. The web app requires Adobe Flash, which is a total non-starter.
In the end, I chose Apple Music, for two reasons. One, it was the only one with a desktop app that actually worked. And two, it’s the only service that I can play Taylor Swift’s 1989 on. If the other services can’t get their act together enough to negotiate for a popular album to be on their service, then I’m concerned about their future ability to do so.
I may end up needing to re-evaluate this decision, particularly if the Sonos support doesn’t happen before Rdio finally closes it’s doors (I’m maintaining my Rdio account just for that). But for now, this will do.