The older crowd of music junkies may remember the time when cassettes were put to shame by CDs and when sounds once recorded on magnetic tape went digital. Rewinding further back, vinyl records dominated the music scene in the early 1920s. The evolution of music and the way people enjoy it has rapidly changed with the age of the Internet.
In 1999, Shawn Fanning introduced Napster and provided people with a new way to listen to music through online file sharing and searching. Steve Jobs knew moves had to be made, and by 2001 the legendary iTunes program made its debut. However, there was another electronic music venue that entered the foray the same year but did not garner as much publicity: Rhapsody.
The growth of Rhapsody in the past decade mirrors the rest of the music industry. What started as a simple directory of legal Internet music became a 21st century digital interactive music service. With subscriptions starting at $9.99 per month, users can add or download any song in the 10.6 million song catalog and listen from multiple media outlets.
Songs can be uploaded onto home audio and MP3 players, including iPods and now smartphones. The Rhapsody application is available for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. There is a catch, however. According to an article on toptenreviews.com, each song is encrypted with digital rights management and when a user stops paying the monthly fee, they can no longer access their collected songs. Rhapsody has recently made a portion of songs available for permanent download; however, this costs an additional 99 cents a song.
If Rhapsody was only a personal music library, it might not be worth $10 per month. It’s the interactive features that sets it apart. The personal subsection of the site called “My Rhapsody” is where individuals can easily search and add artists, albums and songs to their library. With many searches, a description of the artist is displayed along with top tracks, similar artists, influences and how the artist is classified in the catalog.
For example, Chromeo is listed as techno, dance pop and electro-funk. Based on a user’s listening habits, Rhapsody will also recommend music and can even alert users when artists in their library have new music available in the database.
If users become bored of their personal libraries, they can also listen to Rhapsody Radio or playlists. Rhapsody Radio was one of the first added features to the site and has more than 200 custom stations including “Global Lounge” and “Indie Now.”
Rhapsody can also stream a station tailored to individual listening preferences and users can also create their own channels.
Playlists are themed sets of songs created by editors, celebrities and users. For example, “Pool Party Soundtrack” is a top editor playlist featuring Vampire Weekend and The Shins. Like the personal radio station, Rhapsody provides a feature called “My Dynamic Playlist,” which creates and constantly updates a playlist based on an individual’s past music history.
This all-inclusive music service has continued to incorporate new technology trends and has provided users with tools to tailor their music experience. However, it is the users who must decide if the service is worth the cost.