The new mobile app (Android, iOS) from music-streaming service RaRa comes loaded with nearly 20 million streaming songs, playlists, charts and customizable options so that users are never without their tunes. At least, I think so?
RaRa’s new app is kind of like Communism, works well on paper but not so great in practice. The app is a pretty accurate iteration of RaRa’s website, a subscription-based music listening service similar to Spotify or Grooveshark. The app, launched in late October, comes with a massive library of songs and some other nice touches that separate it from its sonic brethren.
Unlike Spotify, the reigning subscription heavyweight, RaRa has a wide variety of playlists and curated compilations for pretty much any mood. Songs can also be broken down by genre, and synced seamlessly with the web app via AirPlay. RaRa puts a little more oomph into its music discovery options, but don’t expect any truly esoteric mixes or beyond-niche playlists like those found on third-party Spotify curation sites, such as ShareMyPlaylists.
Still, the RaRa app does get some things really right. Namely, any and all songs in the streaming library can be downloaded into the app for offline play and the app can also “learn” your music preferences and suggest tracks based on your current library, much like iTunes’ “Genius” feature. Heck, it even gives Spotify a run for its money with a huge range of music and some bands that can’t be found in Spotify’s 18+ million library
The catch is, there is no free version of RaRa, in order to get any of these features, users have shell out. Fortunately, this only comes to $0.99 for the first three months and then just $4.99 after that (mobile prices are a little steeper, at $1.99 and then $9.99 for monthly access).
The real downside to RaRa’s new mobile app is that it doesn’t really work. Like, at all. When I first downloaded the app it had a habit of constantly booting me back to my phone’s home screen and losing all favorited songs and playlists. Downloading an update to the app briefly fixed the booting problem but now the app’s homepage (along with the charts, playlists, and other core options) won’t show up at all, showing only a black screen with the RaRa logo.
Fortunately, RaRa hooked me up with a review code; however, my phone would be halfway across the room if I had to pay a monthly fee (without any trial period) for a dysfunctional app like this. There are some minor design flaws in the app’s design as well. For example, it’s enormously easy to download playlists for offline play, but significantly trickier to figure out where to download individual songs or even full albums.
The worst part is that for the brief moments where RaRa worked as it should, the app was a lot of fun. The library is massive, the price is right, and some of the curation tools make finding new music (or old favorites) a real blast. With a couple of tweaks (and a solid update), RaRa’s app could return the kind of experience that would legitimately loosen Spotify’s grip on the music subscription market. Just, you know, it helps to make an app that’ll do that all the time.