Napster has come a long way since its inception as a file-sharing service 10 years ago, and there is little doubt that without it, Rhapsody wouldn't exist--at least not in the form we enjoy today. Now, thanks largely to the fact that most competing services gave up on the game and passed their subscribers over to the two remaining companies, these music subscription companies are rulers of the roost when it comes to paid streaming. But who will come out on top when we pit Napster and Rhapsody against each other in five bone-shaking rounds? Read on for the … Read more
Today, U.K. Internet service provider Virgin Media announced plans to begin offering unlimited song downloads for a monthly subscription fee. The songs will be DRM-free MP3 files, which means they will never expire, even if the user switches ISPs. Universal, the largest record label in the world, is so far the only label to sign on, but the other majors will probably follow.
The deal was announced along with a threat to crack down on illegal downloaders (perhaps through some sort of BitTorrent monitoring, although Virgin claims it won't be doing the monitoring itself), but the companies left … Read more
Are there any sweeter words in the English language than "free music?" (I know, "free pizza" runs a close second, followed immediately by "free beer," "free chocolate," and "free Tibet.")
If you're looking to stock your iPhone, iPod Touch, or Zune with some fresh, new tunes, you can find a mountain of free stuff if you know where to look. I'm talking legal free stuff, not the "free" tunes you pilfer from P2P services. Bad user, bad!
As you probably know, iTunes gives away one song every week (gee, wow, thanks). Head to Rhapsody, however, and you can score a free song every day. And not just obscure tunes from little-known artists: Green Day's new "Know Your Enemy" was a recent download of the day (ahead of the new album's release, even), and yesterday's selection was Poison's classic power ballad, "Every Rose Has Its Thorns." (Couldn't...help...myself.)… Read more
If subscription music was a drug, I'd be one of its biggest pushers. I'm a huge proponent of paying a flat monthly fee in order to enjoy all the music I want at any time (and in any order...without commercials). It's even better if you can take as much of it as possible with you anywhere on an MP3 player. A handful of services and devices offer this option.
You can pair Zune Marketplace with the Zune player, or choose from a seemingly endless array of other non-iPod MP3 players and sync up with Napster To … Read more
Jasmine and Donald set the stage for a battle between the iPod Touch and the Samsung P3. Then, DJs rejoice, Jasmine goes metal, Memorex makes a comeback, rentals hit the road, and Zune makes some suspicious calculations.Listen now: Download today's podcast | Subscribe in iTunes | Subscribe in RSS… Read more
This week, Jasmine and Donald discuss a variety of music tech that's perfect for helping you motivate into summer swimsuit shape--there are even music gadgets for people who prefer cycling and swimming to jogging and gyming. Also, Donald's got some info that will help any digital audio newcomer understand formats, and Jasmine rants about Rhapsody irritants. Plus, we answer questions about subscription services and explain why they don't play nice with the iPod.Listen now: Download today's podcast | Subscribe in iTunes | Subscribe in RSS… Read more
What can I say: I'm a sucker for constructive feedback. Recently, I posted a piece about why I'm so infatuated with Rhapsody's subscription service, and I was pleased as punch to hear that the unconventional music model has some supporters aside from myself. The article also generated a fair amount of questions about the service and how exactly it works--understandable, what with the fact that the subscription music model is not exactly transparent. This week's MP3 Mailbox Monday addresses two aspects the model that I think will be particularly helpful for subscription music newcomers.
Q: I was told by a friend that once he declined the yearly service offered by Rhapsody, he was no longer able to play his MP3 songs already downloaded to his personal MP3 player. I do not know the maker of the personal player, but I know he had downloaded the files to his computer, and transferred them to the player, free MP3's, which were part of a trial offer from Rhapsody. What I would like to know: how can the player not function and play those MP3's once he no longer had an active account at the Rhapsody site? Thanks for your help. -- Richard, via e-mail.
A: I doubt that they were "free MP3s." If he signed up for a free trial of Rhapsody, he would have been able to download and stream any music from the Rhapsody catalog during that free trial, but after the trial was up, he would no longer be able to play the files (unless he continued the subscription by paying for it). The tracks themselves were not free--the subscription was during that time. Once the subscription is up, you no longer get access to the music.
Also, the files were likely not MP3s at all, but DRM-protected WMAs, which is what Rhapsody uses for its subscription catalog. The reason it uses this type of file is that WMA DRM10 tracks are capable of having a timer built in, which allows them to lock after a certain time period if a person does not continue paying for the subscription. (Likewise, in order for a device to support subscription music, it has to have a hardware clock built in that is compatible with this timer.)… Read more
A couple weeks back, I strapped on my best convincing boots and had a little lovefest with Rhapsody. But all is not roses in the realm of subscription music, and Rhapsody is definitely no exception to the rule. In fact, I have yet to come across the perfect piece of music software or the perfect online music service. True, I am exceedingly picky and jaded, but I also believe that there is always room for improvement when it comes to technology, be it hardware or software.
Certainly, Rhapsody could use some improvement. As much as I love the service and would have difficulty living without it at this point, there have been multiple occasions when my irritations with it have led to frustrated utterances. Most of the problems I have with Rhapsody are tied directly to the software, but as you need to have that installed to organize your own music and use the service effectively with portable devices, such as the Walkman, I feel these gripes are perfectly justified.Software interface issues: The Rhapsody software just looks so...1997. If you don't believe me, open up the software alongside Windows Media Player. See that pretty stacked-album-art view in WMP? Nice, isn't it? I'm not particularly fond of how Rhapsody organizes music, either. You use a drop down to switch between artist, album, and genre views, which are listed on the left, while related songs pop up in the right column; programs such as WMP and iTunes offer more elegant navigation. I also don't like that in the artist, album, or genre window, you can't simply type a letter--say "H"--and be taken directly to the artists that start with that letter. Transfer hangups: In my estimation, my portable device transfers hang about 40 percent of the time. For example, I'll be transferring a list of 30 songs and the files will just freeze up at 17. Unplugging the player and reconnecting doesn't help, nor does shutting down and restarting Rhapsody. I just have to wait until the software decides it's "ready" to give me my music to go. It always corrects on its own and the timeline is completely arbitrary. Seriously...what the?? General bugginess: I've spent a lot of time using a variety of software jukeboxes, and they have all suffered from bugginess from time to time. However, the one that full-on crashes the most--by far--is Rhapsody. And this hasn't been a problem recently, but it suffered from a rather nasty, long-lasting bug that wouldn't let me sign into my account for certain periods...again, completely at the app's whim.… Read more
On this week's episode, Donald and Jasmine discuss at length whether brick-and-mortar record shops are worth saving...or at least, Donald does, while Jasmine wonders whether he will ever get sick of talking about it. Also, Jasmine expounds upon the virtues of subscription music, or more specifically, Rhapsody. Plus, find out the deets on an excellent audiobook player for the visual impaired and the latest blah MP3 player to come out of Philips' warehouse.Listen now: Download today's podcast | Subscribe in iTunes | Subscribe in RSS… Read more
On last week's MP3 Insider podcast, Senior MP3 Editor Donald Bell and I found ourselves wandering off on a tangent about cable television. Namely, I refuse to pay the astronomical fee Comcast insists on charging for even the most basic of packages. (Listen to the show.) Frankly, they're already siphoning off plenty of my hard-earned cash for the Internet service alone.
Personally, I'd rather fork over $15 each month to Rhapsody for all the music I can listen to than bleed out $60 to Comcast, especially considering the fact that almost every TV show I want to watch can be streamed free--and legally--from sites such as Hulu, Netflix, and Veoh...heck, even the network's own Web sites offer up recent programming for free. However, while I may be perfectly comfortable "renting" my music, Donald makes a fair point that many people still can't come to terms with the idea that they don't get to own the music outright, especially when they're getting yet another bill in the mail each month.
And so here we are...with me making yet another attempt to convince all you hold-outs that subscription music is great. I'm all about Rhapsody, and here's why:"Free" for all: Rhapsody is one of a handful of music services that let's you listen to any song you want, on demand, for free. Yes, there is a catch: you only get 25 free streams per month...but that's better than nothing! Because of this aspect, you can share songs and playlists--via e-mail, IM, or blog/Web site--with anyone, even if he or she is not a subscriber. (Another service worth checking out with a similar feature is La La, which gives you 50 free song credits for streaming.)… Read more