Rhapsody.com is the Netflix of online music stores. At iTunes you buy music, at Rhapsody you not only buy music, you rent it. I looked into all the online music choices and decided renting music made more sense for me. I tend to listen to music like I’m a top 40-radio station – without the ads. I have 12 songs I need to hear over and over, after two weeks I’m sick of them and never want to hear them again. It doesn’t make much sense for me to buy songs. If I rent them I have access to more artists, more genres, and more chances to try something different. Since I like to have my own soundtrack going on in the background—so it seems like my life is a really some good movie or TV show—I need a lot of music.
There are basically 3 levels of service at Rhapsody:
Level 1- Download the store’s jukebox onto your computer for free. Get 25 whole-song listens free a month and buy whatever music you want for 99 cents a song or about $11.99 an album. The store now sells mp3 versions that work on ipods as well as other mp3 players.
The website organizes songs in a variety of useful ways. You can browse for music by genre. I like picking a genre—say punk/alternative— then looking up the top selling songs in that category. This gives me a top-50 list to pick out favorites from. Once I’ve found a couple songs I like, I look up the artist to get a “best of” list of their songs. There are also plenty of prearranged channels offering songs from a particular era, holiday theme, etc. Then there are the playlists that customers “publish”, each with their own unique theme. Rhapsody also has a page called, “My Rhapsody,” where—like Netflix – you rate songs, artists, and albums. Then Rhapsody creates for you a “Dynamic Playlist” of songs you would enjoy. The list changes each time you log on. I blew through my 25 free songs in one night, which is how I got to….
Level 2- For $12.99 a month you have can listen to any song on up to 3 computers as long as you keep your subscription going. Basically you’re renting your music. As long as you pay the rental fee, you have all the music you want on your computer. You can make playlists and listen to music for about the cost of 13 songs a month. You can also mix in songs you own (from Rhapsody, your own CDs, or other sources) on your playlists. At this level you can buy songs for just 89 cents and albums for just $8.99.
Level 3- For 14.99 a month you get everything in level 2 but can also download your rented music to a Rhapsody compatible mp3 player. This way you can listen to all your songs and playlists in the car, on the go, etc. If you pay your subscription quarterly instead of monthly it works out to only $13.33 a month. (You have to buy the music player separately. They’re similar in cost and style to ipods.)
I had a Rhapsody level-2 subscription for over a year and have had the Rhapsody music player and Go-To subscription for 3 months now. Here are the advantages and disadvantages:
– I feel free to check out new music I heard on a TV show, in dance class, or at a friend’s house – instead of getting 30 seconds – I get to hear the whole song.
– I have access to more than 13 new songs a month (the number of songs $13 would buy me on iTunes).
– I feel free to check out new genres I wouldn’t usually try.
– I don’t have to worry about storing or cataloging long lists of music. I tend to just delete my songs choices after a few months of listening.
– If I really like a song I can buy it.
– My Sansa mp3 player is easy to use and easy to carry around.
– When I had the level-2 subscription I needed to be online to listen to music. If my Internet wasn’t working, then neither was my music. With level 3 I still have all my songs on my mp3 player even if my Internet’s down.
– My Sansa mp3 player has frozen up 3 times. I needed to turn it off or take out the battery to unfreeze the controls twice and had to hook it up online once to reset the software. I’ve never lost any music or lists doing this though and I do use my music player for several hours a day every single day so it gets a lot of use.
– Some older music is only available by buying, not renting.
– While Rhapsody does have music videos, it doesn’t offer TV, movies, or podcasts like iTunes.