Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Web Based Real Rhapsody: Great News for Music Fans

Real has quietly announced a web based version of their popular music service, Rhapsody. Up until my switch from a PC to a Mac, I had been a subscriber for almost 2 years. In my opinion, it's easily the best of the digital music services.

The great news about the newest version of their software is that it's strictly a web based product, meaning you only have to login to the site using your account, and that there's no software to download, and that those on non-Windows computers (i.e. Linux and Mac) now have an alternative to iTunes.

I'm going to try and spend some time reviewing the software in the next month, but if you haven't used Real Rhapsody(in any format) yet, I highly recommend it. It's especially useful for those of us who spend quite a bit of time working on a computer, whether at home, or in the office. Most critics will highlight that you never get to "own" the music you listen to on Rhapsody, and of course, they're right. However, I think of Rhapsody as a mix between XM Satellite Radio and Amazon.com. Over 6 million people pay $10 a month for XM, and you have little choice in the music you get to listen to, other than their vast channel selection. I think of Rhapsody as a service similar to XM, but with an ability to browse similar artists, get recommendations from editors, while creating precise playlists of the artists, songs and albums you want to hear.

What would be especially interesting for Real to do with Rhapsody, would be for them to institute some of the features found in what are typically referred to as Web 2.0 sites and applications. It would be great for community reviews of artists, the ability for users created tags and categorizations, and possibly RSS feeds of new or recommended artists in the genres you like. It would certainly add value to the service, but perhaps there's risks that I'm having a difficult time imagining right now.

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