This video really says it all.
Now, the implications are something else. 9,000,000 songs on my iPod touch for $9.99 a month sort of competes with what Apple is selling at their iTunes Store. However, Rhapsody isn’t trying to sell songs to iPhone/iPod/touch users – in fact, if you click the buy button inside the Rhapsody 2.0 App, Rhapsody directs your request to iTunes. That’s very gracious of Rhapsody. Or was that the price for Rhapsody to get into Apple’s App Store? I don’t know, but it works for me. Why buy songs when you can rent them so cheaply?
I loaded the Rhapsody 2.0 App on my touch, logged in, picked my current favorite playlist, and started playing music. A breeze. All the existing playlists I’ve built on my regular Rhapsody account showed up. Right now you can search on albums and songs within the app, and add them to a playlist for playing, but as this video promises, soon we’ll be able to play songs and albums directly, without adding them to a list. Although, I’m thinking it might be easier to always use the playlist, but make one called “New Albums To Try” and then when Tuesday rolls around, put anything I want to listen to on it, and clean it out before next Tuesday.
And I tried the trick in the video of downloading my the songs in the playlist and then shutting off the Wi-Fi. The 55 songs on my Songs Rated 10 played instantly. Very cool. I have a first generation iPod touch and it drains the battery very fast when Wi-Fi is on, so this is a great feature for me.
It took me a bit of poking to find the random play and repeat play buttons – they are hidden away on the song time scale that only shows up if you touch the screen near the top of the album cover. When a song plays you get cover photo to look at, and behind it if you hit the info i button, you’ll get a short essay about the artist. Overall, the app does everything I want but I’m expecting some nice surprises in future versions.
Rhapsody is a subscription music service and most music fans don’t cotton to that marketing model. Those that do love it. It’s another reason why Apple allowed Rhapsody in their app store, because renting music is so unappealing to the masses. This latest version of Rhapsody (the service, not the app) is cheaper and has more features.
And it makes a lot of sense to stream music to a phone where people have limited storage space. I’d need a 128GB iPhone to store the songs I own. Streaming 9 million songs works just as easily with an 8gb phone as a 16gb or 32gb model. Because the Rhapsody 2.0 app lets you pick out albums using your mobile device, you don’t even have to mess with a desktop other than to sign up the first time.
Rhapsody is great for people who like to try a lot of new music. It doesn’t take much effort to try out 20-30 new albums a month, and of those, I might add 10 songs to a playlist. I won’t own those 10 songs, but I will have tried a lot of new albums. It’s pretty cool to read your favorite music review magazine and just play the album while you’re reading the review.
It’s also convenient to have all your favorite songs and albums tagged into playlists for quick and easy access. Think of an artist, group, album or song and type it in the search box. If Rhapsody has it you can play it. I’d say 90-95% of what you can think of is available. There are a few famous holdouts, like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. If I could convince Rhapsody to change anything, I’d ask them not to sell songs and albums from artists that don’t stream. I don’t like paying to promote their work.
Generally where Rhapsody and other subscription services are weak is for finding out of print albums. Of course, no one else is selling them either. This is why people should still buy CDs. Any time you find an album you really love, buy it on CD to save forever, because even in the digital world where keeping things in print would be a snap, albums disappear into obscurity.
JWH – 5/2/10