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Published Aug. 5, 2013 on Mashable

You can learn a lot about a person by browsing her record collection, scrolling through her iTunes library or checking out her playlists. Listening to music is a highly personal experience, and one of the perks of streaming is finding the one that best fits your music style.

On first impression, Rdio and Spotify seem identical. Through either, you can access a massive library of music, pick a song or album and listen at will, at price points of $5 (unlimited desktop listening) or $10 (unlimited desktop and mobile app streaming, plus offline syncing).

SEE ALSO: How We Discover New Music

That’s where the similarities end. Rdio feels especially geared towards fans hooked on music discovery, with its bright, clean interface and a smooth, organized experience.

For those just getting into the streaming game, Mashable created this beginner’s guide to kickstart your Rdio experience.

Setting Up

There’s no need to download a native desktop app first — sign up directly on rdio.com. The Rdio web player is identical to the OS X and Windows desktop apps, convenient for listening when not at your usual computer. You can sign up through Rdio via your Facebook account or create an Rdio account.

rdio-settings-tab

The drop-down menu in the top-right corner is your customization guide. From here, click “Apps” to learn about the desktop, web, mobile and accessory apps that suit your devices. “Settings” will help you manage your subscription, connect external accounts, edit personal info and opt in or out of email notifications.

The subscription models mirror Spotify’s, with a $5 unlimited desktop and browser streaming option and a $10 level that also includes unlimited mobile streaming plus offline syncing on mobile. However, Rdio’s free version, while ad-free, has a mysterious cap on how much you can listen to before it cuts you off, measured by an ambiguous meter that adapts to your listening habits.

rdio-free-music-meter

Also under the settings “External” tab, connect your Rdio profile to your Facebook and Twitter accounts — it will pull a profile image and save you that extra step. Key feature: Last.fm compatibility. Connect your Last.fm account to Rdio and make sure your scrobbles stay up to date. Once you’ve linked your Rdio account, it stays connected if you log in via another computer’s native app or browser. This differs from Spotify, which requires you to re-enter your Last.fm credentials in order to scrobble songs from each new computer browser and app.

Music Discovery

Rdio’s gorgeous, bright white interface contrasts with colorful album art — it’s the music discovery version of a candy store. Don’t let Rdio’s minimal number of left sidebar browsing tabs fool you — “Heavy Rotation,” “New Releases,” “Top Charts” and “Recent Activity” are all it takes to find your next favorite album.

Continue learning about Rdio’s music discovery capabilities, new radio feature, mobile app and more here.

I started a Tumblr blog this summer as a place to write out my thoughts when they’re too big to tweet and not-quite-formed-enough to publish somewhere else: http://marissacetin.tumblr.com/.

This is my favorite post yet, from the early hours of Aug. 13 (also, my birthday). I was inspired to write this when realized I could listen to an album I was highly anticipating more than a week before its release date. Internal conflict ensued:

This morning I woke up to learn that I could listen to Julia Holter’s new album Loud City Song right now via NPR’s First Listen. This is good news, right? I love Julia Holter and have been in a constant state of looking forward to this album since I fell in love with Ekstasis and Tragedy, so the pre-release stream should be good news … right?

Nope. There’s nothing more anticlimactic than anticipating an album’s release for a certain date, only to be surprised with a streaming version of it a week early. I’ve been looking forward to Tuesday so much that I know exactly what’s going to happen. I’ll go on a post-work walk to Other Music and pick up Loud City Song. Then, I’ll look through the artwork and liner notes while I’m on my boring LIRR commute back home. And finally, I’ll flip the vinyl onto my gets-the-job-done mini Crosley record player, place the needle gently on side A and sit on my bed opposite the player.

Why would I trade all that to pop my headphones in the audio jack and sit at my laptop, just so I could hear what I’m sure is the magnificent LCS just a week early. Fortunately I am on vacation this week and I literally have better things to do than sit on my laptop all day. If I were at work today, this might have been a very different post. I’m sure I’d still manage to enjoy the music, but there’s something to be said about the ceremony of it all. I don’t want to sit at my laptop, tempted by the distractions of my Twitter feed — I might as well just listen to it while I’m at work. By removing myself from the listening experience, I’m removing myself from the potential to be affected by the music.

Now that sounds like a good, if cheesy, ending line, but my problem with the pre-release stream is that I don’t always have a problem with it. With albums I find myself daydreaming about purchasing in a record store on the day of its release — no, please do not spring me a week early with the tempting, but ultimately disappointing option of listening sooner at my computer. But for those records by artists that I normal-like or have been meaning to check out, pre-release streams are perfect. There it is, right there in my feed: “First Listen: Ty Segall, ‘Sleeper’ http://n.pr/16EXroW” Don’t mind if I do. I enjoy Ty Segall’s millions of musical endeavors and tried and failed to see him perform live (thx will call of a D.C. venue I love but often has these problems), but it’s not at that level where I am compelled to make it special. Listening to the NPR stream is so easy, which is key to the music discovery and browsing perks of the the First Listen option. I can listen to something on a whim, no money or downloading time spent — even no time spent waiting for Spotify or Rdio to load. If it were not for Pitchfork Advance’s one-click-away stream of Rhye’s Woman, I probably would not have listened to that album while I was a work and swooned hard over its sexy, laid-back disco vibes.

When Savages made their record available to stream on their website one week, maybe two weeks, early, I struggled for about two hours whether or not I should click play. Here was another album I was crazy-anticipating, after surviving on the very few things they had released for at least half a year since I learned of them post-CMJ and was sad for a week that I missed their showcase — one single and b-side, one live EP and a handful of tracks released in the lead-up to the release of Silence Yourself. I think by the time the record was streaming, I already had heard almost half the record in pieces. It was my last finals week ever and I was struggling. I planned to go to Red Onion to buy the LP on its release date, but I knew I probably wouldn’t have the time to have a proper sit-down listen. Plus, I needed something to amp me up, and I hate energy drinks. I clicked play. From the first bass riff on album-opener “Shut Up” to the clarinet outro on “Marshall Dear,” I powered through my studying and paper-writing, hitting repeat when the album ended and clicking the volume up. I got goosebumps. Despite the distractions and being latched to my laptop for work, Silence Yourself pulsed through me and gave me the energy to successfully complete my awful finals. I still had a meaningful, connected listening experience via surprise pre-release stream.

I won’t listen to Loud City Song through NPR’s First Listen, it wouldn’t feel right. But I’m glad it’s available there. Now, new listeners can fall in love with her music like I did, all because they saw a tweet in their feed, thought, “Maybe I should check this out,” and clicked a link.

I like music. That might already be clear, but for those who don’t know me very well — Hi, my name is Marissa, and I super like music.

I was very excited to learn that I’d be taking over Mashable‘s Music Monday feature. Every week, I pick a (typically) timely theme and crowdsource song suggestions from Mashable staff and readers via Mashable‘s Entertainment Twitter and Facebook Page to include alongside my own picks. (Readers can also share songs to add after the post has been published.)

Published Aug. 9, 2013 on Mashable.

Welcome Week is fast-approaching and a new class of college students is prepping for the first year of university life. Whether students are dorming or commuting, starting off college is a major transition. Incoming freshmen are using their remaining pre-undergrad days to pack up their lives, say some see you-laters and soak up all the college advice they can get. That’s where you come in.

We’re asking the Mashable community to share their college pro tips with those about to begin their journey into the world of quads, residence halls, lecture seminars, unlimited meal plans and football fight songs. Using the hashtag #classof2017tips, tweet, Instagram and Vine advice you wish you knew going into college. Write your tips on school or work supplies (a legal pad, Post-it note, dry-erase board, paper pinned to a corkboard, message on a chalkboard, even a screenshot of your smartphone’s notes app — and make sure to write “#classof2017tips“), take a photo or video and share it with the hashtag.

We’ll be featuring a collection of your #classof2017tips in the RebelMouse below. We’re looking forward to see what advice you share!

View the story on Mashable.com to see the RebelMouse filled with fantastic reader submissions.

Every week, Mashable‘s Community Team interns highlight the best and most interesting/confusing/funny/silly/odd reader comments on that week’s top stories in a round-up post.

These are the posts I’ve had the pleasure of writing, but each week is a group effort. Shouts out to my fellow Community interns Annie Park and Danielle Odiamar.