We gave you an early look at the New Rdio redesign back in March during SXSW 2012, and then it was released to the masses just last month. Well, we've gotta hand it to the Rdio team, as they continue to improve the design for the enjoyment of the users. Today, Rdio has refined its design again, bringing more white space and a flatter profile to the forefront. The company says that this makes it lighter, brighter, and easier on the eye. What else? Speed improvements. We've been playing with it for a bit over on the Gear Live Rdio channel, and we invite you to do the same. It's good stuff.
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We sat in on a panel where Pandora's Jackson Gates, Daren Tsui of mSpot, and Kevin Wortis were interviewed by Gartner's Mike McGuire about the future of cloud music services at SXSW. It was an interesting discussion, focusing on what the benefit of the cloud brings to music, and the problems associated with expecting users to pay for something that they've been used to getting for free for at least a generation. It's an interesting time, and obviously the models differ substantially for companies like Pandora and Spotify, for example. Click on through for the highlights of the discussion!
In this episode we give you a look at MyStream, an iOS (and soon, Android) app that lets you share your music with multiple devices, eliminating the need to share headphones. Sharing of content happens over Bluetooth, streaming to up to 5 devices, or Wi-Fi, which will stream to up to 30 separate devices.
Last week at a press event in Austin at SXSW, Rdio gave us a look at its brand new, completely overhauled music experience. We got a look at the new Rdio, and we walked away impressed by the beauty of what the streaming music company is attempting to pull off. There are a lot of changes, and we think that most people will think they're all good.
New Rdio isn't just a visual makeover though. Wilson Miner, head of design for Rdio said, "We want back to ground zero and rethought the whole user experience from the groud up to put the focus 100% on music and people." That people part is a big deal, because social integration is a big part of the new Rdio. When you log in, you've got a constant bar on the right-hand side that shows your online contacts and what they're listening to. There's also another tab that gives recommendations of who to follow (oh, and you should definitely follow the Gear Live Rdio profile!) Wanna share a track or album with a contact? The old way still works, but now you can just drag and drop content onto contacts as well. Very fluid.
The revolutionary promise of digital music became reality with the rise of Napster. The file sharing network pioneered a functional and comprehensive catalog of music with its enthusiastic users. Developed by then-teenaged Shawn Fanning in 1998, Napster became a worldwide phenomenon in less than a year. Co-founder Sean Parker helped develop Napster into a company. Mass acceptance came quickly, but legal challenges ultimately doomed the original service. Despite the controversy and lawsuits, Napster changed the music business and paved the way for iTunes, Rhapsody, Spotify, and other music services. The divide between the cultural establishment and technology innovators was defined by the disputes raised by Napster. After more than a decade of declining sales of recorded music and imperfect attempts to present a licensed alternative, the influence of Napster continues to be felt.
At SXSW, I listened in on a discussion with Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning where they discussed these issues in an effort to promote their film Downloaded. The panel opened with a montage of clips from the VH1 rockDocs Downloaded film. The trailer touched on the start of Napster, the revelation of how easy it was to get music based on a search term, how quick the results were in the age of dial-up, and the growth of Napster as a company. There are a couple of gems there as well, such as when Fanning said back in 1999 that he believed the future was instant music access from multiple devices, including stereos and smartphones (well, he said "cell phones," but still.) this is a movie about kids revolutionizing an industry they knew nothing about.
Right now I'm at SXSW, sitting in on the Turntable.fm DJ Battle that's taking place over the next two hours. There are a few DJs on stage playing their best tracks in an attempt to rock the crowd, and as things are unfolding, I can see some real potential for Turntable.fm to bring something to the table that the Spotifys, Rdios, and Rhapsodys of the world just aren't able to deliver at the moment, especially now that Turntable has secured licensing rights from all four of the major record labels here in the U.S.