June 30, 2008
| by Rachel Cericola
Rhapsody is looking to take a bite out of Apple’s music business.
Today, the company launched the $50 million “Music Without Limits” initiative, which will provide DRM-free MP3s that can be played on a variety of music players—including the iPod. As part of the program, Rhapsody will offer some of its catalog through Yahoo! and Verizon Wireless.
It’s a big departure from Rhapsody’s previous model, which asked subscribers to pay $13 to $15 a month to stream unlimited songs. That’s fine and dandy, but it wasn’t compatible with the iPod, which currently has a tight grip on the portable music market.
The new business model would allow streaming of full-length songs as well as the purchase of MP3s.
“Until now, legal digital music has suffered from severe limitations on where consumers could buy it and how they could use it,” said Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks. “‘Music Without Limits’ fixes those problems and will make digital music easier and more valuable for consumers.”
The Rhapsody music catalog has over 5 million songs from Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and EMI, as well as many independent labels. Individual tracks cost 99 cents, with most albums running $9.99. The company also said they will give away free albums to the first 100,000 people that sign up for the store, from now through July 4.
In the coming weeks, Rhapsody will also be available on MTV’s ring of sites (including CMT and VH1), as well as iLike, which is used on social networking sites such as Facebook.
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.