Why I'm ditching Beats Music and going back to Rdio

When I did my initial Beats Music review back in January, I found the service to be so good I was almost certain I'd switch from Rdio and leave it behind. I did just that and for almost three months, I only used Beats Music on my iPhone, the web, and through Sonos. Unfortunately, small issues turned into much bigger ones that, ultimately, have led me to cancel my subscription. Here's why...

I'll start by saying that I stand by the points I made in my initial review of Beats Music. It does an amazing job at curation and playlists. The listening possibilities are endless and they're adding new music all the time. That's the part of Beats Music I love and that I'm really sad to let go.

My issues with Beats Music started with their app. It caused excessive battery drain. Beats was aware of the problem and pushed out an update fairly quickly. Unfortunately there were and are many other, sporadic issues that remain. Playback and streaming problems are something I experienced on a rather regular basis. The most peculiar part about it was that it happened even when a song was supposedly downloaded to my iPhone. That means there should be zero buffer time and the song should instantly play locally.

For the most part I overlooked the playback issue since quitting the app from multitasking and restarting Beats typically fixed it. At least at first. Slowly the problem got less sporadic and more frequent. Several updates later and it was still a problem. At this point I'd have to reboot my iPhone or toggle Airplane mode on and off. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. This issue was particularly annoying when I got to the gym and wanted to play a workout mix I had created. Beats Music would get stuck at certain songs and I've have to stop what I was doing in order to remedy the problem. Eventually I just closed the app and opened iTunes Radio to finish my workout.

Around the beginning of April I re-downloaded Rdio to my iPhone and iPad and fired it up. I renewed by subscription and all my stuff was still there. I decided to try and use Beats Music and Rdio for 30 days. Then I would make a decision on which one to keep. Over the first week, I found that I still preferred Beats Music for curation but I just couldn't rely on it. I listen to music through my headphones at the gym and while at Starbucks or somewhere else working. When I'm at home in my home office, I alway have Sonos going throughout our entire condo for background noise. When using Beats Music, I continually experienced long buffer times or gaps in playback. When using Rdio, I never once had to interrupt my workflow to launch the Sonos app in order to see what the problem was, because there was never a problem.

I thought about keeping both Rdio and Beats Music since there were bits and pieces of both I was reluctant to let go of. At least until I flew across the country to San Francisco. As usual, the plane's wifi was not working properly. The first thing I did was fire up Beats Music and put my headphones in. I turned on Offline mode and selected an album I had saved for offline playback. Instead I got the buffer wheel that just circled and circled and did nothing. I rolled my eyes and tried another album. The same thing happened. I only found 3 songs out of several hundreds that would actually play. The worst part? Those hundreds of songs were definitely eating up my iPhone's storage, yet none of them would play.

On a whim I launched Rdio. I didn't expect to have any music because I hadn't synced anything for offline playback since I had re-subscribed. However, Rdio had brought back down everything that I had previously synced to my iPhone before canceling my subscription. All of my songs and playlists were right there and available to play offline.

That's when I held my finger down on the Beats Music icon and tapped the x to delete it. Then I set a reminder in Fantastical to cancel my subscription as soon as I got home. To supplement music discovery and radio functionality — something I've never found Rdio to be great at — I'm using a combination of Songza, Pandora, and iTunes Radio. When I find something I really like, I add it to my collection in Rdio. Is it the most elegant solution? No. But it's one I know I can rely on. I'd really like to give Beats Music another go at some point, but I think I'll give the service some time to mature first.

What about you? If you're using Beats Music, have you experienced any of the same issues I've struggled with? And if you don't use Beats, what streaming services do you use and why? Let me know in the comments!

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • Spotify FTW
  • +500 Sent from the iMore App
  • Yes .. Spotify for me too. I've dabbled between Spotify & Deezer and went with Spotify early this year bcoz Spotify had a more polished app.
    But Deezer has done a complete app overhaul recently & I might give it another try. Tracks collection is almost same in both; hence user experience is a decisive factor for me. And as of now, Spotify has an edge. Sent from the iMore App
  • I've never cared for the interface and layout of Spotify. Perhaps it's the overwhelming amount of green that threw me off. My brother uses it and swears by it. I decided to give it a try a month or two ago and the search was busted. I couldn't look up anything. I deleted, re-installed, etc.. days later, still the same. Emailed them and got zero response, so I deleted it.
  • Have you tried the latest update to Spotify? The layout is very slick, the green is (almost) completely gone, and it incorporates some of the better elements of Beats (suggestions, moods, etc.).
  • No because the search feature was busted. I "tried" to try it out but couldn't search for anything. i emailed and no one responded. Seems like every time I try spotify some weird issue arises that's annoying enough to make me say forget it.
  • I have had the same experience. Cancelled Rdio and was using my 3 month Beats free trial. I eventually found the lack of a new release section in Beats to be a big minus and was sick of their curated lists. I guess I like listening to full albums still. I cancelled Beats today and am trying the new Spotify iphone app and so far, I find it rivaling the Rdio app. Really nice redesign and it feels faster to me than Rdio. Give it a try - I'd love to see your thoughts on Rdio vs Spotify.
  • Wow, all of those playback issues would drive me insane. Fortunately, I haven't experienced any of them. It sounds like the issues are specific to your phone configuration. That's too bad.
  • Don't think so since I had the issues on two iPhone 5s' - an HTC One M8, and a Galaxy S5. I'm not the only one that's had them. But yes, they only seem to affect some users where others go unaffected.
  • I used to use Spotify all the time, then I gave Rdio a shot. I Haven't looked back since.
    Posted via___
  • I just prefer the interface and design of the Rdio app. It's amazingly clean and polished.
  • Yes! That's exactly how I feel as well. My favorite layout for music streaming. A few people I know that I've shown Rdio to have switched from Spotify or others to it and have been quite happy. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • God yes. When I am on the other side of my house I noticed that Spotify can't load searches, playlists, etc. Rdio seems to work great though. Spotify has everyone beat on collection size, but the interface isn't that good. I also like on rdio that you can "love" a band and get all discography updates to your collection. So much better than Spotify's notification system. CSSI.US
    Computer Repair and Network Administration - Lexington, KY
  • Spotify. Can't beat the selection, especially if you're into European rock and prog rock, as I am.
  • I tested Beats Music, it is a good service, but with no tablet optimized app for iOS and Andorid, I went back to Spotify. I also tested and liked Xbox Music, but also with no tablet app for iOS and Android, I went back to Spotify. When both services offer tablet apps, I will try them again. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • Agreed. I tried it for the 7 days, and while it was really neat, the fact that it didn't have iPad support was a deal-breaker. Had Spotify since 2011 and haven't looked back since (except that one time I tried Rdio and didn't like it) THEN I never looked back.
  • I tend to purchase my music. I did give Spotify a good try but it just seems too much like renting and I found that listened to the same 8 or 9 albums. I do use Pandora which I used to pay for the whole year in advance but when they announced the end to the year subscription and a price increase I decided to just go to the free version. It's not like I use it as often as I used to anyway. So I ended the Spotify subscription and went back to just purchasing music if I had the desire to listen to a particular artist. Far cheaper and I know that I own that music. If I never buy another album I still own that music I purchased. Spotify etc, if you decide not to pay your subscription fee then the music that you like is unavailable to you and not only that you've spent close to $120 a year for the privilege of renting access to that music! I still purchase my music on iTunes even though I also use Android devices and If I want to add purchased music then I manually load it onto the Android devices and can access it through the Google 'play music' app.
  • I had the app for about three days as the free trial. My biggest issue was the built in Malware. On my Note3 whenever I opened my Browser the Beats upgrade banner would come up first, and on my Note 10.1 I would get the same thing every time I swiped my unlock screen. After about a day of that.............bye!
  • Ewe gross.. iOS users don't have this issue but I forgot about that with Android. Yeah, huge turnoff.
  • I have noticed the same issue in the iOS 7.1.1 music app....when files are stored locally, they still don't begin to play instantly when shuffling through songs.....
  • Hmm, I haven't run into this issue with iTunes, only Beats.
  • Ever ran the numbers to see if it made sense to use the free apps and buy the ones you listen to specifically? I use all of these apps in radio mode. I find that my only times i listen to specific songs was rare... And if I wanted to listen to them more often buying was the better bet in iTunes. Sent from the iMore App
  • Yeah. I'd spend thousands a year on music if I bought everything I liked. I do however buy stuff by my favorite artists and keep that in iTunes.
  • I tried Beats for about 3 hours the day it came out. I found it clunky and just not worth dumping my Rdio subscription. I deleted it the same day and canceled my subscription. I use Rdio to run marathons and not once have I had a problem.
  • I haven't switched over to Beats yet, so I can't speak as to the problems with the service. But I'm a long-term subscriber of MOG which was bought out by Beats. We were told a while ago that we'd be transferred over to Beats in April, only to receive a very Spartan email a few weeks ago advising that they're not ready to undertake the transfer and to continue using MOG. In the meantime, MOG is working the best it ever has, so if they ever switch us to Beats, I won't be a happy trooper...
  • My Beats® works flawlessly. Sent from the iMore App
  • I don't understand the praise for Spotify. The app still has usability issues.
    Example 1: download an album not in your library for offline playback. Rhapsody: one tap Spotify: Save the album to your library. Navigate to your library. Scroll through the hundreds (or thousands) of albums in your library. Flip the switch to make the album available offline. What if you don't link the album? In Rhapsody you simply remove the downloads. In Spotify you must also remove the album from your library. Example 2: View essential artists in a specific genre, such as Native American. Rhapsody: Browse/World/North America/Native American Spotify: If you're lucky, you may find a playlist. Rhapsody has several hundred genres, all of which can be browsed by New Releases, Top Tracks, Essential Artists and Essential Albums.
  • I'm not a huge fan of Spotify either. Something or another always seemed to not make sense, glitch, or piss me off every time I tried it. So I just stopped trying.
  • Thanks Allyson. I've been a MOG user and debating on Beats Music. I've heard wonderful things on the curation, but a lot of the promo has been Hip Hop based which I have no interest in. It makes me wonder how well other genre would be supported long term. Also, they don't support Last.FM yet which is a non-starter for me. Reading about your experience has convinced me to terminate my MOG subscription and go all in with RDIO which has been nothing but a wonderful experience over the last 3 months I've been trying it.
  • My issue with Beats is that it's not downloading the full songs at times Sent from the iMore App
  • I had beats for a month liked it but songza is where it's at for me and plus it's only 3.99 a month has the newest songs that beats was missing also.
  • Yep I love Songza as well. I use it constantly when I want to discover new music. I then add it to my Rdio collection.
  • I am writing as an ios and android,and former spotify user. I use to love spotify. It fulfilled all my streaming needs. Yes, it's iPad app is somewhat cluttered, but at least they have one. I still have an iPad air and I switched over to a galaxy s5. I thought I'd give beats music a try. Playlists are amazing. Library is on par with the rest of them , but I had two separate problems. First, I can't save music to my sd card. Secondly, I had the same problem with loading offline tracks on both platforms. I have to admit, on an android google play works great, but on ios,at the moment, spotify the better choice.
  • Windows user so cant really get on with iTunes, maybe if I get a mac I'll store it all locally but atm have a Spotify sub and steadily getting annoyed by it not having some songs I like, so might switch to Google Play Music seems the best of both worlds.
  • I also have gone from Spotify, Rdio, Google Play, and then Beats. I had the same exact problem with Beats and offline music. I also still felt like I had battery problems and I was not a fan of the no ipad app. So when Spotify updated to the new design I downloaded and haven't looked back. Canceled Beats yesterday and I'm back with Spotify for good. Great new design and it's wicked fast for me. Even streaming on my drive home it plays in seconds unlike Beats or Google play which took forever. Hope Beats improves because the competition is only good for all of us.
  • I've been a Rhapsody user for eight years; was thinking Beats would be the one subscription service to pry me away. After my 3 month Beats trial expired, I cancelled and went back to Rhapsody. I find the UI a lot better and easier.
  • I'm a Slacker guy. I like the newer interface, but I wish they would update the iPad version to the new look and feel. The current iPad version is a little too cartoony. That said, Slacker is that I've been using of late, and I'm diggin' it. :)
  • I love Rdio, not only the offline service is very reliable, but the radio stations are great, very well curated. I have several devices and love the way I can hook one of them to the speakers on the living room, or to the bluetooth speaker in the kitchen, and use any other device to choose songs or radio stations. International availability is very good as well, much better than Spotify in this respect.
  • I'm currently on Beats because I can put it on my AT&T bill, which I have a work discount on. I still like Rdio better but Beats has its perks, namely the "sentence" gimmick. Sent from the iMore App
  • i only used beats during the trial. But i preferred it to any other streaming services i've ever tried. But i don't use any because i have more than enough local music and when using services i'm constantly searching for albums and finding nothing. I found it hard to justify paying for a service when my own library more fit my listening tastes and was more robust.
  • Rdio uses an inferior bitrate (last time I checked they refused to even say what it was) to Beats/MOG/Spotify/Google, so I wouldn't even consider using the service. I am currently using MOG and I am trying out Spotify as a replacement. Beats is still working on changes, so I will wait and see what they offer since I should get a 30 day trial when MOG ends. If they still have the same issues that they had back in February, I will move to Spotify.
  • Rdio is switching to 320 Kbps AAC.
  • Any idea when they will be finished with the conversion? It took Spotify a long time to make the change. I will look at the service when they are finished with their conversion.
  • Here's the story: http://rainnews.com/rdio-upgrades-the-sound-quality-of-25-million-tracks/
  • I see that they are converting the library, which is great news, but I didn't see an estimate on how long they expected it to take. Did I miss it in the article? Since these services are month to month, I don't plan on trying it out until everything has been converted.
  • sorry to hear about your Beats issues but I haven't had a single one of those problems and I began using Beats the day it became available in iTunes. Before that I was using Rdio for a long time but permanently switched to Beats despite their child-like design and terrible, terrible sound. I mainly use it on my iPhone and i find it infinitely better and more versatile than rdio, everything from caching tracks to the selection to their wonderful 'intro to artist' and 'deep cuts' playlists for artists that i am curious about. Beats also works incredibly well in low coverage areas which may contribute to why their sound is so bad, but it works great in 3G mode and also caches three or four tracks ahead of the track you're on which is fantastic is poor coverage areas like my work. Rdio unfortunately does non of this stuff but does have Peter Gabriel which Beats does not. lol. I also find Rdio eats more data. But the desktop Rdio experience is superb.
  • I also have been a longtime user of Rhapsody. I tried others, and Beats killed my iPhone due to the battery problem, but they did fix that quickly. I had playback issues also. I never have problems with Rhapsody, and can find the artist I like. To me the best test of any service, try to search for little known artist, or songs. I am not talking about total unknowns. If the service finds music by your search, it may be worth the download, and fee.
  • Agreed. Beats had all sorts of issues: playback, downloading, crashing, not playing songs in offline mode. It finally got annoying enought that I canceled my subscription after 3 months.
  • I had Spotify, cancelled it and went to Rdio and now I'm back with Spotify. Before the recent update to Spotify, Rdio had a better App, but Spotify's app is now very good.
    Spotify simply has more music than Rdio. Spotify has signed exclusive deals with many artists that you just don't find as much content for on Rdio.
    Spotify is the best in my opinion out of all the music streaming services at the moment. The good thing is my service provider in New Zealand has just done a deal with Spotify which gives all their on contract mobile customers Spotify Premium for free, so I'm happy. Sent from the iMore App
  • thank you very much Ally, you just described my issues. You sure you were using your phone and not mine? :p
    I've had the same playback issues even in offline mode and that's SOO annoying. Another thing is that despite I listen to a lot of different artists and genres (and hit the like button) the home section doesn't really modify or update so often. It has gone quite sometime showing me the same playlists. Oh, and I find the web player really slow, sometimes I hit play there and takes so long that i then prefer to use my iPhone's app. They need a good desktop and iPad apps urgently. I like the beats interface, which is innovative, but as a "young" service/app I also think it needs a lot of fixing and "maturing". When the trial is over I'll go back to Rdio or spotify which looks and works a lot better with the new update. Sent from the iMore App
  • I wish there were a one size fits all. I use Spotify and Songza. I wish Spotify, Rdio or even iTunes purchased Songza and integrated it. Spotify is trying. Their new app Is slick. Ally, give it a try again. Songza is fantastic for curation but it's getting long in the tooth and is due for an upgrade
  • Slacker. Been using it since my Blackberry days. I left for SiriusXM when I got my new truck but only being able to use it in that vehicle got old quick. The new interface is slick too. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm late to comment, but I just started my free trial with Rdio. I like the Rdio UI way more than Spotify. Beats was cool, but it suggested too much "mainstream" music for my tastes. If my free trial goes well, I'm switching to Rdio on the student discount subscription. I have a question for you Rdio users. When you remove albums for offline use, are the songs deleted from the phone storage? When you remove songs in Spotify, they will still stay and take up valuable storage space on my iPhone. The only way to delete the Spotify songs is to delete the app and reinstall. EDIT: I just saved an album in Rdio and checked the storage usage. It was a 128mb after sync and 55mb when I removed the album from sync. This is huge because it will help me manage my iPhone storage! Bye Spotify!
  • I recently started my free 3 month trial of beats, being a long time spotify user with tons of playlist, i was disappointed that there is no option to import. I to am starting to have problems with songs that I have downloaded to my S4 trying to buffer them or simply won't play a song, I really like the UI and the "smart music" creation. But I truly think that once my trial is over if things have not improved, I will be going back to spotify.
  • I've used Rhapsody, then Spotify, then MOG and rode MOG to it's bitter end and tried Beats because MOG recommended Beats. I think Beats bought MOG and closed it down. I'm going back to Spotify. There are some features I just couldn't find in their search results, like 'similar artists'. They only save the top five or so searches. It was just a clunky UX on the iPad and iPhone, but when I couldn't find the songs I was looking for, I gave up on Beats. I may come back later.