History of Rhapsody
The Rhapsody music service was first launched on December 2001. Before this, it started out as a streaming audio project which was first integrated into a radio service called, TuneTo.com -- this was a personalized radio service similar to modern offerings like Pandora Radio and others. After some time, it was taken over by Listen.com which transformed it into an online music streaming service -- in fact, Rhapsody was the first service of its kind to offer this.
Rhapsody has seen many changes over the years in how it offers digital music and who owns it. Until 2010, RealNetworks, Inc. owned it. However, since then it has been an independent company providing a subscription-based cloud music service.
Rhapsody offers a range of music listening options similar to other competing services such as Spotify, Google Play, Slacker Radio, Rdio, and others. This ranges from buying and downloading songs to streaming to multiple mobile devices and home audio equipment. The service options that Rhapsody currently offer are:
- Rhapsody Premier -- this subscription level gives you unlimited listening to Rhapsody's large music library. You can search for songs, artists, etc., and either stream them or download to your computer -- Rhapsody uses DRM copy protection so any downloaded files won't play if you decide to stop your subscription. As well as songs and albums, you can also tune into Rhapsody's 250+ radio stations that cover various genres and eras. Subscribing to this level also allows you to use 1 mobile device with the service -- if you want more than this, then you'll need to subscribe to Rhapsody's Premier Plus service (see below).
- Rhapsody Premier Plus: -- if you are a heavy mobile user who has more than one portable device you want music on, then the Rhapsody Premier Plus service could be the ideal solution. Just like the Rhapsody Premier service, you get unlimited listening via streaming or downloading. However, this level is more generous on the number of mobile devices you can use. You can transfer songs and albums up to a maximum of 3 mobile devices.
- As with both of the subscriptions options above, keep in mind that if you stop your monthly payments the music files that you have downloaded to your computer or portable device will no longer work. This is because Rhapsody uses DRM copy protection. The rule to remember with any subscription service of this kind is that you don’t actually own any of the songs unless you purchase them as standard MP3s.
- To be able to use this service, your digital audio player (DAP) must support Rhapsody DNA or PlaysForSure DRM standards.
Other Major Features
- Music Library Size -- according to the Rhapsody website, their music catalog currently has 16 million tracks. There's also the option to buy individual songs that are free from DRM copy protection -- downloaded MP3s are encoded using CBR with a bitrate of 256 kbps.
- Music Apps -- Rhapsody caters for a few mobile platforms so you can use your smartphone or tablet to access their service. Currently, the music apps that you can download for free are: Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone.
- Home Audio Listening -- Rhapsody can also be used on various compatible home audio devices. These include: Sonos, Squeezebox, TiVo Premier DVR, Xbox 360, and many others.
- Offline Mode -- when you download music to your computer or mobile device, you can take advantage of Rhapsody's Offline Mode. This is useful for listening to your favorite songs without needing an Internet connection for streaming. You can also conserve quite a lot of battery power using offline mode -- streaming tends to be quite power hungry. Data usage over your phone's carrier network or home broadband can also be reduced using offline mode.