Streaming Music Prize Fight: Spotify vs Rhapsody
Spotify takes on Rhapsody and the winner is?
February 24, 2012 by EH Staff

Desktop Player Interface
Rhapsody was once owned by RealNetworks, which tortured innocent music lovers with the bloated, virus-like RealPlayer music player. Rhapsody, now independent, still emanates a faint RealPlayer stench, with its bright background, stale 2003-erainterface, and blue and gray accents. Unlike RealPlayer, however, Rhapsody is intuitive to navigate, play music, store songs, and create playlists. It works like a typical computer app, so there’s no learning curve. Find a song or album you like? One click plays the song or whole album. One click saves the song or album to your library. Creating playlists is much like iTunes.

All Rhapsody interface panels (Now Playing Mixer, Play-lists, Artist, Album, etc.) are resizable, and the user controls the metadata panels they see in their library (genre, bit rate, time, composer, beats per minute, and 19 more).

Spotify, on the other hand, tries way too hard to be cute and novel, at the expense of usability. The top and left-side panels will be familiar to iTunes users, which is cool. Not so cool: Spotify went for that dark-gray, squint-to-read Adobe Air look that couldn’t be more aggravating for anything longer than a few seconds’ viewing. Users have no control over metadata. Spotify gives you only the four basics: artist, album, track, and time—plus it adds one more, popularity, that you’ll likely file under Who Gives a Damn. But before you do, there is one great use for popularity. Spotify streams at “up to” 320kbps quality. This highbit rate is reserved for the most popular songs. So, if there’s more than one version of “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, go for the most popular version. It’s more likely to be streamed at the better-sounding 320k bit rate.

Both apps sport microscopic text throughout their interfaces, and you don’t get to resize it. You’ll (not) read it and you’ll like it, dammit!

It ain’t pretty but, in every conceivable way, Rhapsody provides a far more intuitive user experience.

Interface Winner: Rhapsody

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