Rdio Recommendations

Rdio VP of Product Malthe Sigurdsson tells Janko Roettgers of GigaOM the company is working on a Pandora-like radio functionality to improve the “passive listening” experience of the service.

“We need to get better at passive listening,” Sigurdsson told me during a conversation at Rdio’s office in San Francisco this week. The move in a way echoes some of the things developers have been doing with Spotify apps, and both point to a bigger problem for music subscription services: With unlimited access to millions of tracks, choice can be a challenge.

Roettgers reports how, for music streaming services, which give you unlimited access to millions of songs for a monthly fee, the real issue becomes discovering artists and finding out what you want to listen to, exactly, among all those releases and available artists.

For the past 6 months, I have been using Rdio and am very happy with it. The biggest reason for switching was the existence of an iPad app, which, surprisingly, Spotify still doesn’t offer.

In fact, I think Rdio’s iPad app is even better than its Mac client – and the feature I like the most is its dedicated Recommendations section, which uncovers artists you might like based on your music listening habits. I use this on the iPad all the time, but with the launch of NewRdio the Mac app has lost the separate section for Recommendations, focusing on heavy rotation from your network. Rdio says they are “working on improving recommendations and better integrating them in the new Rdio experience”.

The new radio functionality seems intriguing. But I do hope Rdio will bring back and invest more resources in building smart Recommendations, becoming sort of a “Zite for music”. Better algorithms to determine what a user is going to like based on behavioral patterns and history are one of the best tools web services have to separate “all content” from “the best content” going forward.


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