In recent weeks there have been a couple of posts highlighting what certain members feel Roon needs to evolve and as these issues are affecting me personally and in fact causing me to rethink my Roon subsciption, I thought I’d share.
I am a yearly subscriber a year for the moment and it’s not THAT large an amount for me to worry too much about. However, any product in which we invest a periodical amount, needs to be able to justify itself on an ongoing basis. For example, I was using Netflix for a year or so, but cancelled that fairly recently as the release of good new series just wasn’t happening frequently enough for me to justify the monthly expense.
I have been on and off, a Tidal subscriber for a few years, and recently it has been more consistently “on” for me, simply because the Tidal experience is getting better and better, more and more titles are coming out, filling gaps in my collection and more “master” versions of albums coming out all the time. Also mobile internet has improved greatly in the last couple of years to the point that it’s becoming a seamless experience to listen to either a Tidal album or the same album I have locally on my pc or mobile device.
Coming back to Roon, I will be likely continuing my subscription, bar poverty hitting me, in February, but the decision to renew is clouded, ie less of a sure-fire thing as it was, say 3 months into my sub, because of 3 things mainly:
I’ve invested in a Fiio Android based audiophile player which is a super device but cannot be used as a Roon Core.
The Tidal standalone experience is not at all bad in itself and improving all the time.
Roon’s ongoing development is clearly biased towards audiophile integration rather than creating an indispensable “Experience” and other systems/services are catching up in the experience department; hence there is a feeling of “this is pretty much it” about the product. The actual developments that have been implemented in the past 10 months since I subscribed, have not really been great UI changes or improvements apart from, notably, one click play.
Changing times and ownership of music:
My firm belief, is that the physical “ownership”; either on HDD or even in our personal cloud space is going to keep dwindling as time goes on. Streaming services will become the way in which we consume music. Even if we “own” the data locally, we will evolve to using Streaming as parallel collections to our own.
We can still “own” the music from streaming services. It’s a psychological thing. Any software can provide enough personalisation of something so we perceive it as our own. If we invest time and effort in personalising something then we bond with it, as we can bond with stored CD’s, Vinyl or carefully tagged and filed Flac or other media.
Roon clearly has its priorities in tweaking the Audiophile aspects of Roon and that’s fine in terms of niche market support, but to get a wider audience or even maintain part of the audience they have already, I do feel that much more should be going on to improve portability, UI, develop interface features, develop socialisation aspects, and to improve the ownership experience of both local and online music.
My ongoing feeling is that Roon execs feel that the interface and metadata capabilities of Roon are “good enough” and don’t warrant allocating a large portion of development (and importantly, marketing) for further development; I am beginning to feel that Roon will always, as such, remain a niche product.
This is not to say I’m unhappy with my Roon experience, far from it, just that It’s a little frustrating as the months go by and there’s no sign of any further development in the key areas which could make Roon a really even more exciting place to hang out (and to entice so many more people to the fold).
So, to recap, to avoid becoming or remaining a product with limited or dwindling customer base, Roon should be offering (or even show signs of offering these in the nearish future):
Social aspects of sharing and linking with fellow music lovers from within Roon itself on an artist by artist and album basis; if we are linked socially with friends and relatives through our love of music inside Roon we will be far less likely to unsubscribe and more friends will join us as they want to experience this exciting new “package”. What is the most viewed and replied to thread in the Roon Community? “What are you listening to now?” - Speaks for itself.
Ability to edit and add notes to existing bio’s and reviews. Personalise our albums and artist entries, invest our time and energy and we become more attached to the product.
Mobile Roon Core Ability - this is so key to evolving Roon - Roon for Android/IOS should absolutely allow mobile devices to be the Core for Roon, so the mobile device’s local content can be integrated with Tidal for seamless on the go experience. We can switch Cores quite happily between PC’s, Laptops, Macs and such, why for the life of me this wouldn’t include an android or IOS device is beyond my understanding. This is just a starting point for Roon “on the go”. Later we can have cloud based Roon database sharing, etc, but make this a key priority for now.
Integration of Roon with other streaming services, such as Google Play Music, Qobuz, Spotify, etc, as many as possible. It doesn’t matter if some don’t want to play ball (and I know Spotify is one): get on board with as many as possible, the more you have integrated with Roon the better for future proofing and further integration with further services. Even if the integration is not seamless (at least to begin with), doesn’t matter, give people the ability to stream from their preferred service from within Roon; keep people within the Roon fold. Bubble Upnp offers basic integration of a whole host of streaming services alongside local content on my Fiio, I don’t understand why Roon can’t do the same?
I really think Roon would enlarge their customer base enormously and secure many more existing clients’ future yearly subscriptions by even starting to implement these basic developments.