Media

Streaming music service Rdio spiffs up with social-centric redesign

Streaming music service Rdio is getting a revamp. Rolling out today, the updated web interface and desktop-application design plays up social music sharing and recommendations, and cuts down on clicks with a new unified view.

Only paid subscribers will be able to see the new Rdio, which is available immediately. The new look was announced Tuesday at SXSW Interactive in Austin by Rdio vice president Malthe Sigurdsson.

“Machines are a nice help, but they can’t do it alone,” said Sigurdsson of music recommendations, in a subtle dig at the algorithms employed by other music services like Pandora. “No matter how good they get, they still don’t have taste.”

Accordingly, Rdio is putting people front-and-center in its new design. On the right side of the screen is a People Sidebar showing the various friends, musicians, or critics you follow. You are able see what someone is listening to right that moment, and if you are feeling it too, you can click and start streaming the same song.

When you hover over an album or song, you can see who in your network has listened to it. Use that information to decide if you should give new music a try, or to judge your friends for listening to Lana Del Rey.

The entire Rdio user interface has received an overhaul. The main view is now unified, with a navigation bar on the left and a continuous stream of content in the middle that automatically populates when you scroll down. The display will resize to fit your browser, and if you leave the main page to check out album details or anything else, when you return you’ll snap back to the exact spot where you left off.

There are a few other nice bits rolled into the redesign, like easier sharing over Twitter, Facebook, and email, and the ability to create private playlists and share them with select groups of people.

Rdio, which is not making its user numbers public, has a lot of competition from streaming-music companies such as Spotify, MOG, Pandora, and Rhapsody. The service currently has over 15 million songs available. There’s a limited free option, and paid subscriptions start at $5 a month for unlimited web and desktop streaming. The price bumps to $10 a month to add mobile and offline access as well.

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