Pondering if your should fork out the fairly inexpensive $25 a year for iTunes Match, but also wondering if you should put that money to use for a monthly subscription to a music streaming service like Rdio? Well stop thinking and read on to see what better meets your musical needs!

Background

With iTunes Match is pretty new acts like an online storage locker for your existing music library, so music doesn’t really stream and is stored in the iCloud. Rdio was created and founded by Skype’s founder back in 2010, making it a still growing music streaming service. It provides ad-free music that incorporates your current library and allows you to check out new tunes you don’t have.

Compatible Devices

Given iTunes Match is iOS based, obviously, it works with Apple products like Mac computers, iPads, iPhones, Apple TV and iPad Touches. If you’re a Windows/PC kind of person, you can easily download iTunes and use iTunes Match, too. That’s basically it since it doesn’t work with any Android-based device, including Blackberry or Palm OS gadgets. It’s purely an iOS thing. But Rdio isn’t that great with devices either, but it does include Android stuff! Compatible devices with Rdio include: Blackberry smartphones and tablets, iOS devices, Windows phones, PC, Roku and Sonos devices. They say they’ll be adding more in the future to compete with other bigger streaming music services like Spotify.

Winner: Rdio works with more devices

Computer Application

Rdio’s color scheme for their computer app is blue and white, so it’s pretty eye-catching and makes navigating the site pretty easy. Once you sign up for the service (there’s a free and paid subscription one), the landing page is really straightforward. It features all the artists that are currently getting a lot of love in your network of friends or in general. From here, you can choose to follow such friends or look for new ones to check out what they’re currently listening to. Rdio will also let you import your current music collection so that you can easily enjoy their stuff and yours in one convenient place. You import this from either your iTunes or Windows Media. However, it doesn’t scan music that it doesn’t have in its catalog (more on that later). Also, songs have to be on point in terms of their title, so tracks with obscure hyphens and stuff won’t get uploaded either. To browse music, you can do a couple of things, including: the album grid, searching in the Rdio collection, sorting through a chart of frequently listened to artists or song list. This makes new music discovery pretty decent when you use the Browse Music button, which shows new releases and what’s popular in the service at the moment. Another plus is that it can provide you recommendations based on what’s in your collection already.

For Mac users, iTunes is built-in to devices already so it’s an easy interface to use since iTunes Match is part of iTunes. Since its not exactly a music streaming site that allows you get new music, what it does is allow you to store all your music that you buy form the iTunes store in the iCloud. When it is in there, you can use your music on all your iOS devices, allowing you to enjoy your tunes whenever, wherever. Uploading songs to the program is easy since it finds the files from your hard drive, skipping over the ones that are already in there so no need to manually add new ones every time. Playing songs that are in the cloud play pretty fast and you can stream/download your tunes on up to 10 devices with five being computers. To access iTunes Match, you’ll need an Apple ID and iTunes 10.5.1 or later on their Mac or PC to use it. Just go to your iTunes, choose iTunes Match in the sidebar and enter your Apple ID and password to subscribe and it will automatically be to scan and match your entire library in order to upload it to the cloud. After it’s all done, an iClooud icon will appear right next to songs that are stored in there (only 25,000 songs can be stored right now).

Winner: Rdio allows you to listen to music that’s not yours PLUS uploads your stuff, too!

Mobile Application

Like Rdio’s computer app, its mobile app is also easy to navigate. It allows you to access Rdio as if you were on the computer app itself. The app pre-loads tracks in your queue for uninterrupted playback, and provides the ability to load music right into your phone so you can listen to when in offline mode. The computer app has this cool “+ Button” and the mobile app has it, too and lets you add things to your local storage via 3G or Wi-Fi (and with 3G or Wi-Fi, you can access Rdio’s entire musical catalog). Another cool feature is that the app changes colors when you’re using it in offline mode so you always know when you’re online and off.

The cool thing about iTunes Match is that if you use any iOS devices it’s already incorporated into it via the Music app. To turn it on, just go into your settings and turn on the function. When you edit, delete or create a playlist on one app, changes will automatically be synced with all the iTunes devices so you don’t have to do each one manually (what won’t sync, though, are playlists with videos, voice memos, or PDF files). For the most part, music is available pretty quickly, but sometimes it might delay to play a song (usually just when you play the first song of the album). And since songs aren’t streaming from a service, the song won’t stop or get delayed when service is interrupted since it’s downloaded to your device via that magical iCloud! You can also download the song directly to your iOS device if you want to, too.

Winner: Rdio’s app still give you access to all their music library when online while you only can listen to songs you have in your iCloud for iTunes Match.

Sound Quality

For iTunes Match, music plays back from the iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality. Rdio’s streaming capability is at 256kbp over Wi-Fi in the browser/desktop/mobile apps. However, 3G streams seem to be at lower quality that the company will not disclose and sometimes users can generally notice the difference.

Winner: The iTunes Match provide you with the ability to upgrade matched songs to higher quality ones available in the iTunes store.

Social Capabilities

iTunes Match really doesn’t have much social capabilities to it. iTunes has that Ping thing that no one really uses, so lets just say there isn’t anything that will enhance or share what you’re listening to on your social media sites. On the other hand, Rdio has a social layer built into their service so you can share songs via a message blast that goes to Facebook, Twitter or other Rdio users. You can also find your Facebook friends on Rdio and follow them there.

Winner: Rdio has some social capabilities at least.

Catalogue

Apple was one of the first companies to get all four major record labels on board, so you know they have a large library to download songs from using iTunes. This also helps when upgrading tracks to higher quality versions. So iTunes Match is able to push its library of more than 20 million songs in the iTunes to any of your iOS devices. Rdio is said to have about more than 15 million songs, with new releases on point, but older jams might be harder to find.

Winner: iTunes has more music, so more will be able to be matched for higher quality upgrades in iTunes Match

Membership Perks

Rdio allows you to play music you don’t already have, as well as has cool features like music that’s hot right now, top charts, review recommendations and more. Basically, it has music discovery, which iTunes Match doesn’t. There’s also a free version so you can try it out, but there are restrictions still. iTunes Match has its “match,” which basically scans your library and any songs in y our library that are already in the iTunes store, won’t be uploaded since iTunes already has it. The only time you have to upload something is if it’s not in iTunes. The more songs that are purchased from iTunes that are already in your library, the more you can store (more than the 25,000 songs the service lists on its site). But you only store what you want to play on your device.

Winner: Rdio’s free version allows your to test drive the service before buying.

Limitations

Rdio doesn’t have any podcasts and songs can take a while to start streaming. Songs are also erased that you download to your mobile device if you cancel the service. Also, you might not find a lot of older jams on here.

iTunes Match doesn’t stream or provide you new music to listen to that you don’t already have in your library. There’s no ability to discover new artists or albums aside from buying them via the iTunes Store either. There’s no support for any other devices that aren’t iOS based. Apple’s Scan and Match isn’t always the best either even though the service says it will recognize tracks taken from CDs, but said nothing about other files. There’s also a limit of songs, which might not fly for those with HUGE libraries of music. And once you turn on iTunes Match, all music that you had on your iOS device like an iPhone or iPad will be erased even though you’re warned before it happens.

Winner: Rdio obviously has less limitations.

Pricing

Pricing for iTunes Match is only $25 per year with no monthly subscriptions so you buy once a year. Rdio has three pricing tiers with their cheapest started at $4.99/month for unlimited web streaming with no adds. If you want to add mobile access to that, you’ll have to dish out $9.99/month. For those who want more than one subscription, it’s going to be $17.99/month for 2 unlimited subscriptions (three for $22.99).

Winner: Obviously, $25 is a lot cheaper than what you’d pay for a year’s subscription of even Rdio’s cheapest pricing tier.

Overall Winner

It seems Rdio is better if you want to really discover new music and have the ability to listen to stuff that not’s in your music collection. If you just want some extra storage then iTunes Match isn’t that bad and for the price you can most likely get both, but if you had to choose only one, Rdio should be the one you get! You’ll most likely expand y our musical horizons more with Rdio than you would with iTunes Match, too.



Kristie Bertucci

 
Kristie Bertucci is an L.A.-based writer, who can't live without her MacBook Pro. When she's not writing, she's either reading or shopping (online, of course) and loves lazy days so she can catch up on her DVR-recorded shows and movies. She's definitely a Mac girl, she loves music and is currently on a mission to to have an insane and enviable iTunes library.