Rdio recently updated its 'Stations' tool, which is a clear shot across Pandora's & the rest of the streaming music industry's bow. Just like Apple's iRadio, Rdio is looking to improve by offering a passive listening experience similar to the one that made Pandora a consumer favorite. This is an important change, as the passive listening experience allows consumers to pick one song/station to start an ongoing stream of music. Traditionally Rdio, Spotify & other all-you-can-eat subscriptions have asked listeners to continuously curate to listen keep the good tunes rolling. In other words, before this feature, you had to constantly select the song you wanted to hear.
Rdio Stations = Continuous User Curation No More!
While the concept of stations is not a new one to Rdio - artist & user stations were previously available - the new iteration allows subscribers filter by thumb up/downing songs on their stream. More importantly, as they aren't tied to the same type of streaming music licences as Pandora, there are some great features that an all-you-can-eat service provider:
- Pick the First Song: Unlike Pandora, you can play a specific song to start a station.
- Replay Song: Rdio let you skip backwards & replay a song as many times as you want.
- Add to Collection: No per song payment or download is necessary to "keep" the songs you like.
- Add toPlaylists: Add the songs you like to a new or existing playlists to create your "greatest hits".
One other interesting feature is meter above the song that is playing, which allows the listener to specify how "Adventurous" they are feeling. There is a small "Powered by Echonest" icon in the bottom right of all stations, so I assume the song selection algorithm is outsourced. That said, so far I think Rdio does an adequate, but not exceptional, job incorporating my feedback to keep their stations on track. Anecdotally, the benjshap station got a little too "non-benjshap" once I moved the dial more than one step towards adventurous.
Combining a passive listening experience like station with the flexibility of an all-you-can-eat subscription service is a huge win for Rdio users. I am surprised that the feature is relatively buried in the greater context of the app. I'm not sure if Rdio stations will end up getting the credit it deserves, but it's a tool I use to for both new music discovery and to passively listen to my existing tunes.