News

The Renaissance of Music Collecting

By Marc Ruxin

I was six when I first fell for music. I raided my parent’s record collection, skipped the classical records, didn’t quite understand jazz or blues, but fell hard for The Beatles. Although it was the music that made me smile, it was also the act of pulling the record from the sleeve, admiring the art, reading the song titles, cleaning the vinyl, and dropping the needle on the record that was very much part of the fun.

As it turned out, this was not a passing phase. I’d listen to the radio to fall asleep. It was the mid-70’s so the commercial music on the radio was what we now describe as classic rock, with a heavy dose of disco. By the time I was 12, I would begin to spend my hard earned allowance on records. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, Styx, Foreigner, Wings, Billy Squire, The Police, The Who, Ozzy Osborne - it was pretty obvious stuff I suppose, even though some of it didn’t endure the test of time. In the 7th grade, a buddy with cool older brothers, played me a cassette called “This Are Two Tone.” My mind was blown initially by the stark black and white mod cover art, but then I listened to the music. It was on that tape that I discovered The Specials, The Selector, Madness and finally The English Beat. My life was changed by rock and roll. The next day I raided my piggy bank and bought all the records I could find by the artists on the compilation.

I was hooked. I begged my parents to get me a subscription to Rolling Stone, and then Spin, and a few years later Option Magazine. I clipped out album reviews, band photos, and hung them on the cork wall in my bedroom next to the posters that came from the various albums: Devo, Wings, Rush. The first thing I did when I turned 16 and got my drivers license was drive to Cleveland to buy records. For the next 20 years I frittered away most of my allowance or paychecks, and much of my free time, milling through bins of records and CDs building a massive collection of life-changing music.

But at some point in the early 2000’s I started buying digital albums, primarily from eMusic and then eventually from Amazon or directly from artist sites. I never liked the DRM on iTunes, and so I steered clear of Apple as a music store. I stopped going to Amoeba Music music every weekend, Kim’s Video in NYC closed, and slowly but surely a huge part of my lifelong obsession collecting physical music ended. Option Magazine was long gone, Rolling Stone had become a magazine about politics and celebrity photos, and Spin had long lost its focus. I now bought external hard-drives and spent an ungodly amount of time digitizing CDs, scrubbing the messy metadata and multiple copies of albums digitized at various bit rates. Then Napster happened, and the music business was turned on its head. It became easier to steal music than to buy it. I never bought into file sharing, because after all if artists couldn’t make a living making music, there wouldn’t be as many artists trying to make music. I was trying to do my part in a very small way, so I continued as a small patron buying tracks and albums.

There were no more beautiful double albums, liner notes, and song lyrics. There was no more flipping of albums, browsing through walls of CDs in search of the perfect album. It was more about accumulating digital bits on increasingly small and slick drives. But then came the iPod. The Walkman and headphone culture had been largely dead for eons, but these digital files could now be consumed on these small sleek devices. Tiny white headphones became a fashion accessory, and collecting music started to get interesting again.

But then something amazing happened. Online music services started to emerge. There was Pandora, Rhapsody, Mog, iMeem and eventually Spotify, Soundcloud and Rdio. Initially they were web services because mobile devices weren’t sophisticated enough to handle the software, and there wasn’t enough storage to take advantage of the promise of “renting” infinite amounts of music. Broadband signals were weak so streaming was often challenging. But then came the iPhone and the app store, and the companies that survived built apps, and the labels started to allow for the legal streaming of music to phones and computers. Companies like Sonos made it easy to stream files from central archives, and eventually blue tooth devices like the Jambox made it easy to push music over Bluetooth to compact devices.

The magazines of old were replaced by wonderful blogs like Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan, Aquarium Drunkard, and Hipster Runoff. Artists could now release singles, covers and EPs immediately, and ride the hype cycle into instant stardom. Distribution was becoming increasingly influenced by artists, and these new platforms made being a music collector so much more immediate, accessible and inexpensive.

In the old days, you needed to be rich, or content being poor to be a great collector. Albums, CDs and cassettes were expensive relative to today’s $10 a month subscription service. For less than the cost of one downloaded album on iTunes or Amazon, you can have over 30M tracks available online or offline, on the web or your phone, played through a stereo, or computer or tablet. Instead of having to commit to buying something on a whim that might suck, you can easily test drive a song or an album at no additional cost. Had this option been available to me as a teenager, I would have saved literally thousands of dollars a year. Instead of buying magazine subscriptions, I can read reviews, watch live concerts and videos for free.

Discovery is also considerably easier. You now have social features that prompt you when there are new releases and highlights popular music across your social graph accessible in a single click. After all people turn people onto music and that will never change. Things like bios, photos, and social media are integrated into these services, reducing the endless trolling for the right reviews, or buried diamonds in the new release rough. Now you can have most of the music ever recorded complete with all the context (reviews, ratings, etc.) delivered over the Internet to whatever device you happen to be on.

The act of collecting has become more about consuming and connecting. The times they are a changin’.

At Rdio we have built what I would argue is the most comprehensive service available to give music lovers music any way they want it. Songs, albums, playlists and starting today radio stations built around you. From algorithmically generated stations that can be initiated with a song or artist, to fully curated stations based on mood or genre, to personal stations where people can listen to other people’s recent activity. You can now access all of this for free supported by ads or uninterrupted for a fraction of the cost of a single CD.

The future is now. Artists can reach a global audience instead of the one restricted by physical distribution and retail marketing. This is a good thing. The more listeners an artist can attract directly, the more money they can make. The more money they can make, the more artists will continue to pursue creating art.

In the end surely something was lost when the act of physical collecting disappeared. The era of “High Fidelity” is largely over. The Jack Blacks who man the counters of dusty record stores are gone. The smell of new vinyl is restricted to purists, and the hand printed zines of old are all but extinct. The walls of records and CD’s have disappeared from apartments and houses, but now these private collections can be shared with the world in pint-sized digital images.

Collecting music is now a democratic, global endeavor. You don’t have to live in hip cities to access limited edition music. You don’t have to be rich to afford the pursuit. Nearly everything is available to anyone with a smartphone or computer. Music is, after all, one of the world’s most creative inventions. It is highly local, yet massively global. After years of trying to build a model where both consumers and artists win, we are finally at the beginning of something amazing. Technology has caught up, and the business of music has finally entered a safe and exciting time.

I couldn’t be more proud to be part of a company that built a business specifically to bring music to everybody, wherever they are and no matter what music they like. In the immortal words of Bob Marley “where there is a will, there is always a way.” It has been a long journey, but today the song doesn’t remain the same, but then again it does … only differently.

Marc Ruxin is the COO of Rdio.

∞  September 4, 2014 — 2:55PM

Posted by Rdio at 2:55PM in News |

News

Come As You Are: An Evolved Rdio for Every Kind of Listener

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By Chris Becherer

A great music service should let you listen any way you want. Sometimes, like when you’re driving or hosting friends, that means “turning on the radio” and letting the service do the work. Other times, you want complete control of what you’re hearing, such as when a new album drops from your favourite band or when a friend shares a song with you that you need to hear, right now.

No streaming music service has successfully combined these listening experiences. Music fans have been forced to go to different services for “lean-back listening” (radio stations) and “on-demand listening” (albums, songs, and playlists). This is an unnecessary hassle, and it cheats you out of having one service really get to know your music taste.

Today, we’re rolling out a significant update on iOS, Android, web, and Roku that for the first time pairs a first-class stations experience with a first-class on-demand experience — along with a suite of new features that seamlessly integrates the two and personalises the entire service around you. It’s an evolved Rdio, tuned to you and your unique way of loving music, and we’re thrilled to finally share it with you.

Free radio, front and centre

Last year, we added the Stations section to Rdio, along with the ability to start a wide variety of endless stations based on artists, songs, albums, playlists, genres — even record labels. We also introduced You FM, a station that takes into account everything we know about you — what you’ve listened to, what you’ve told us you liked, even what you Like on Facebook — to create a truly personalised listening experience. You can listen to your own You FM, or tune into the You FM station of a friend or tastemaker like Exclaim! or AUX TV. You FM quickly became one of our most popular features.

Today, we are doubling down on lean-back listening and moving stations to the forefront of the Rdio experience. After downloading the app and signing up in a few simple steps, new users will immediately start listening to a free radio station based on their favourite artist, with no trials to start or paywalls to navigate. From there, they will have access to all the various station types we offer, each drawing on the 30 million tracks in our catalogue. They will also be able to enjoy hundreds of brand new curated stations, handcrafted by our in-house team of experts to fit any mood or activity.

That’s just the start. We’ve re-examined all of Rdio through a stations-first lens. Rather than a single dedicated section, stations now live throughout the app. Whether in Recommendations, Trending (our new section combining Heavy Rotation and Top Charts), or Browse (our new home for expert-curated stations), new users will be looking primarily at stations.

All of this is completely free to users today in 20 countries around the world with plans to roll out to more of Rdio's 60 supported countries in the coming months.

We believe Rdio is now the best free radio experience on the market. But what about Rdio Unlimited subscribers, our most loyal fans? Rdio Unlimited pairs all of these great stations with the ability to play albums, songs and playlists on-demand and offline. One of the central design goals of this update was to maintain a single app with a consistent user experience that scales gracefully across our subscription tiers. Every one of the new features we are introducing today was carefully designed to be flexible enough to benefit all of our listeners, free or paid. The best example of this flexible approach is Home, our new landing page on web and mobile.

Your new Home on Rdio

Home is the feature we are the most excited for you to try out. It’s based on ideas that Head of Design Ryan Sims and a group of designers, engineers, and product managers here have been thinking deeply about for several years. Rdio was founded on the idea of social music discovery — that the best music recommendations come from people you know and tastemakers you trust. Home is the next step in the evolution of that idea. As one beta user told us, “It’s what Rdio always wanted to be.”

Home is an evolving feed of personalised music stories that surfaces the best of Rdio in a single destination. Stories can be based on your own activity, such as “Keep Listening” — where you can quickly get back to music you’ve recently played — and “Similar to…” — which gives recommendations based on your favourite artists. Stories can be based on your friends’ recent activity, or recommendations from our in-house team of music experts, such as “Artist to Watch” — which highlights new and emerging talent on a weekly basis. As you keep using Rdio, the stories you see will become more varied and personalised. There are over 20 different kinds of stories in Home, and we’ll be adding new ones all the time.

One of my favourite stories is “Dig deeper with more by…”. It looks for albums that you haven’t yet played from familiar artists, surfacing deep cuts from our vast catalogue of 30 million songs — remixes, b-sides, reisssues, etc. This morning, I discovered three gems from one of my favourite bands, The Flaming Lips, that I hadn’t ever heard — one live album, one soundtrack, and one single with a bunch of amazing b-sides that I never would have found on my own with just a search box.

Home also gives us a vehicle to highlight user-generated contributions to Rdio, like comments and playlists, in a way we couldn’t before. I follow some hardcore music nerds, many of them Rdio employees, and if one of them leaves a gushing comment about a new record, I’ll probably want to give it a listen — as long as I see the comment. Now, that comment will make its way to me right in Home, the most precious real estate in Rdio. Simply put, Home encourages conversation around the music you love.

Home borrows some of the personalisation concepts of You FM and applies them to not just one station, but the entire user experience. As you grow with the service, playing more music and following other listeners, Home will evolve and tailor all of Rdio to you based on how you like to listen. The word we keep using to describe it is “elastic” — whether you are a free stations listener, a hardcore collector of albums, or a playlist creator, Home will stretch and bend toward your tastes, suggesting music you’ll like and have the access to play.

More new ways to organize and discover

Home is just one of many cool new features launching today. Favourites is an expanded, smarter version of your collection — you can now collect any artist, album, song, station, or playlist by tapping the heart icon to favourite it. The more you favourite, the more Rdio gets to know you, surfacing music relevant to you in Home and You FM. With Trending, we’ve improved Heavy Rotation by combining it with Top Charts so that you can quickly see the music that's popular with your friends or the entire Rdio community. Check out our new curated stations, handcrafted by our in-house experts and organized around a variety of moods and activities, in Browse. Continuing our long tradition of social discovery features, we’ve created a new section on the web called People that lets you see what your friends are listening to, right now.

All of these features are available to everyone, whether you’re listening to stations for free or you’re an Rdio Unlimited subscriber. Give them a try, or learn more about how they work.

Built by fans, for fans

With this update — which includes more new features rolled out at any one time since the original launch of the service in 2010 — we’ve put Rdio in a position to be the daily music destination for a wide variety of listeners. Rdio now pairs a first-class, cross-platform, global, free experience with the best on-demand experience on the market.

Every day, the team here at Rdio focuses on building the very best music service possible. Not the best music service for the industry — but for you, the fan. Because we’re music fans, too. We get to work on a product that we ourselves passionately use every day, that we obsess over. Everyone here has strong opinions about Rdio. This creates heated arguments about the product, its features — even its pixels. It’s never easy, but this kind of passion ultimately leads to a better product. I want to thank every single person at Rdio for channeling all of that passion and hard work into this release. It’s our best yet.

We’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. We invite you to try out the latest evolution of Rdio, and we very sincerely hope that you love it as much as we do.

Jason Russell, playlist junkie and lead product manager for Home, assembled this for the occasion. Enjoy.

Chris Becherer is Rdio's SVP of Product. Follow him at rdio.com/people/becherer

∞  September 4, 2014 — 11:25AM

Posted by Rdio at 11:25AM in News |

Exclusives

Exclusive: Dan + Shay Take on Tom Petty in Rdio Sessions

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Rising Nashville stars Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney, better known as Dan + Shay, have graced us with the first country edition of Rdio Sessions, our intimate live series performed for listeners like you. The set, recorded in Nashville, features songs from their debut album Where It All Began, including the singles “19 You + Me” and “Show You Off,” and a soulful cover version of Tom Petty’s 1989 hit “Free Fallin’.”

If you’ve yet to be acquainted with these two charmers, you’ll instantly hear why their youthful songs about love and fun have been a welcome wave in country and their songwriting skills have already been utilized by big acts like Rascal Flatts. Play our Rdio Sessions Station to hear more highlights from this one-of-a-kind performance series.

∞  September 4, 2014 — 10:30AM

Posted by Rdio at 10:30AM in Exclusives |

New Music Weekly

New Music Weekly - September 2, 2014

The latest New Music Weekly playlist will turn you on to artists like art punk act Half Japanese, and soul and jazz musician Diggs Duke. Mostly though, this will be remembered as the week that blessed us with not one but two releases from Prince. Thank you, Purple One! Plus don’t miss the long-awaited seventh album from Counting Crows. Read on for more info about that and other highlights of the playlist, and don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always have the latest one waiting for you. You can also visit the Rdio New Releases page when you’re ready to venture out on your own.

PLAYLIST NOTES

  • Sleater-Kinney - Sleater-Kinney (Remastered)
    A slew of newly remastered classic albums from the seminal female punk trio that was fronted by Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein begins with the vital 1995 debut.

  • Zeus - Classic Zeus
    The third album from the mighty Toronto indie rockers finds the band pushing past Seventies rock influences in favor of a more godlike form of pop.

  • Sinkane - Mean Love
    The London artist with roots in Sudan crafts a genre-blurring album of soulful Afrobeat, reggae and electronic pop.

  • Maroon 5 - V (Deluxe)
    The fifth album from the LA pop rock gods features more big hooks from frontman Adam Levine and a collaboration with Gwen Stefan written by Sia, plus three bonus tracks on the deluxe edition.

  • Prince - U KNOW and Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL - WHITECAPS
    The artist formerly known as The Artist is famously prolific, but he still took fans by surprise when he announced he’d return to his old label to drop a solo release and a funk rock collaboration with his touring band 3RDEYEGIRL at the very same time.

  • Haerts - Giving Up
    Another long-awaited EP from the Brooklyn indie pop act poises singer Nini Fabi and crew for more widescreen exposure.

  • Terri Clark - Some Songs
    Funded by the singer's dedicated and strong fan base via Pledge Music, the album expertly displays the hard-stomping Canadian country music she is best known for.

∞  September 2, 2014 — 10:12AM

Posted by Rdio at 10:12AM in New Music Weekly |

Events

Ellie Goulding Highlights Free Rdio Concerts at Toronto International Film Festival

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We’re beyond excited to be the music partner for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where UK electropop ingenue Ellie Goulding tops our series of free concerts during opening weekend, performing live at Toronto’s historic Massey Hall on September 6.

The soul of the Rdio experience at TIFF will be found at Rdio House (335 King St. W), a musical hub for industry leaders and Festival-goers to relax and recharge with live music, giveaways, Rdio product demos, and free food and drink right next door to the Festival’s home base at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. A listening station at the festival ground zero intersection of Simcoe and King Streets will provide music lovers with the ability to explore Rdio’s vast catalog from September 4-7.

Throughout the weekend of September 4-7, the Rdio Music Zone will feature free performances on the Steve and Rashmi Gupta Family Stage by Absolutely Free, Adrian X, DJ Misty, Buck 65, Elaquent, Jason Collett, John Kong, Maylee Todd, and Rich Aucoin. Performers co-presented by Festival Music House include BADBADNOTGOOD, Bobby Bazini, Diana, Eon The Soul Proprietor, and Reuben And The Dark, with more to be announced soon.

If you’re in Toronto, you can get free tickets to Rdio presents Ellie Goulding through surprise social media giveaways. Follow @RdioCA on Twitter to find out how more!

∞  August 28, 2014 — 7:13AM

Posted by Rdio at 7:13AM in Events |

New Music Weekly

New Music Weekly - August 26, 2014

Ready for the hottest songs of the week? Our New Music Weekly playlist is always hand-picked for your listening pleasure (don’t forget to subscribe so you can get it automatically each week). On the singles front, there’s a killer new ballad by Jessie Ware co-written by rising star/VMA winner Ed Sheeran, along with crazy infectious tunes by Cobra Starship featuring Icona Pop and Calvin Harris featuring John Newman. The metal act Avenged Sevenfold revisits their 2003 album for a belated 10th anniversary edition plus look out for the first of several reissues from French electronic act M83.

But that’s just a little sample of what you are going to hear here — there’s much more to check out in the New Music Weekly Playlist and the Rdio New Releases page.

PLAYLIST NOTES

  • The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers
    The Canadian indie rock vanguards offer the most celebratory songs the group have ever conceived for album number six.

  • Royal Blood - Royal Blood (Explicit)
    The British rock duo set to tour with The Pixies drops a hard-hitting debut album with big sounds and memorable riffs.

  • Ariana Grande - My Everything
    America’s current pop sweetheart collaborates with Iggy Azalea, Big Sean and The Weeknd on her sophomore album.

  • Brad Paisley - Moonshine in the Trunk
    Duets with Emmylou Harris and Carrie Underwood highlight the country vet’s 10th album.

  • Basement Jaxx - Junto (Special Edition)
    The influential UK dance duo digs back underground for sexier sounds on their seventh album, the first since 2009’s Zephyr.

  • The Rentals - Lost in Alphaville
    Matt Sharp and Lauren Chipman return with new bandmates culled from Lucius, Ozma and The Black Keys for their first album in 15 years.

∞  August 26, 2014 — 8:25AM

Posted by Rdio at 8:25AM in New Music Weekly |

News

Get Connected To Rdio With SoundHound

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Today, we’re happy to announce a new milestone to Rdio’s integration within SoundHound, the revolutionary sound search mobile app. With the introduction of a new feature called “Connect to Rdio,” after you tag a song in SoundHound, it will be automatically placed in a “SoundHound" playlist accessed from Rdio. Along with this new update, SoundHound users will see a significant increase in the speed of their returned search results.

Here’s how it works — existing SoundHounders will see a Plus sign (+) in the results page if they have not connected to Rdio. When the Plus (+) is tapped, SoundHounders will be directed to the set-up page for “Connect To Rdio.” By enabling this feature, users will see all of the songs they identified through SoundHound as a playlist inside Rdio.

“We are always looking for additional ways to enable music discovery for our listeners,” said Chris Becherer, SVP of Product at Rdio. "We’re excited to be working with the SoundHound team to create a dynamic listening experience around songs identified in the real world, right inside Rdio.”

This new update is available now on iOS and Android.

∞  August 20, 2014 — 4:53PM

Posted by Rdio at 4:53PM in News |

New Music Weekly

New Music Weekly - August 19, 2014

A lot of songs are considered for each New Music Weekly playlist, but only the best and most repeat-worthy ones make the cut. This week, we’re digging some pretty unique country releases thanks to a new album from The Voice judge Blake Shelton and an unlikely yet awesome compilation of country artists paying tribute to Motley Crue. We’ve also got pep in our step thanks to the latest full-length from Swedish indie duo JJ and a big single from Netsky featuring Beth Ditto.

Subscribe to the New Music Weekly playlist, which is automatically refreshed every week, and you’ll always be on top of the latest tunes across genres. Hit up the Rdio New Releases page when you’re ready for even more freshly hatched music.

PLAYLIST NOTES

  • Wiz Khalifa - Blacc Hollywood (Deluxe)
    Hot on the heels of the buzzing single “We Dem Boyz,” the rapper’s fifth album features guest appearances from Nicki Minaj and his Taylor Gang brethren Juicy J and Ty Dolla Sign.

  • Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker
    The debut album from a young New Orleans singer-songwriter with an old soul, fresh off a tour with Jack White.

  • Kimbra - The Golden Echo (Deluxe Version)
    The New Zealand singer’s sophomore album, the first since she achieved worldwide success with Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” takes on a more adventurous pop direction.

  • Chase Rice - Ignite The Night
    The North Carolina singer-songwriter’s third album and major label debut is buoyed by the country hit “Ready Set Roll.”

  • The Last Internationale - We Will Reign
    The rebellious New York rock trio featuring Brad Wilk from Rage Against The Machine on drums drops their first album.

  • Various Artists - If I Stay (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
    The soundtrack to the gripping adaptation of the Gayle Forman novel stars young actress Chloë Grace Moretz and features acts like Sonic Youth, Beck, Tanlines, Lucius and our favourite fictional band of the summer, Williamette Stone.

∞  August 19, 2014 — 8:57AM

Posted by Rdio at 8:57AM in New Music Weekly |

Exclusives

Happy Birthday Madonna!

It’s safe to say that the topic of women in pop music – if not pop culture – can be broken down into two distinct categories: before Madonna and after Madonna.

Artists from across the spectrum have long cited Madge for her groundbreaking music videos, longevity, for breaking down stereotypes, for shepherding female empowerment and for infusing pop music with some good old fashioned sex…and never being ashamed of it.

Liz Phair: “You know who I think doesn't get enough credit? Madonna for her giant, wide, swath of road she paved for us all after her to travel on, you know? Madonna is the speedboat, and the rest of us are just the Go-Go's on water skis.”

Ariana Grande: "She is strength, she is freedom, she is wisdom beyond anybody's comprehension.”

Beyonce: "I felt like I wanted follow in the footsteps of Madonna and be a powerhouse and have my own empire. She showed other women when you get to a point in your career, you don't have to go sign with someone else and share your money and your success, you can do it yourself."

Bjork: “She made it look good to control your own life when that was something that was not supposed to be very sexy for a woman. She's one of the few women who has remained true to herself.”

Katy Perry: “If I could, I'd have Madonna's career. She is the ultimate in female pop music, and she's like the Energizer bunny.”

And one of Rdio’s Artists To Watch, Sky Ferreira, has said, “She inspires me to be strong, fearless and smart. She’s more than just sexy or someone with good songs; she’s the type of woman I want to be. I want to inspire people the way she has.” Lucky for us, Sky has inspired us with an exclusive playlist of her favorites by The Material Girl, right on time for the Queen Of Pop’s birthday.

∞  August 16, 2014 — 9:42AM

Posted by Rdio at 9:42AM in Exclusives |

Developer App

Experience Rdio on U Browser

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We're excited to announce that Rdio is now available on U, an innovative new browser that lets you control your music while you check your email, chat with friends or read the news. With Rdio’s app on U, you can pull up your favorite music and take it with you while you keep browsing. Volume control, album artwork, and play/pause/skip buttons are always right where you want them. It's being called CrossOver™ browsing, and once you experience it you’ll never look back. U is available for download now.

∞  August 14, 2014 — 4:17PM

Posted by Rdio at 4:17PM in Developer App |