March 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Rhapsody Meets Spotify Halfway with 60 Day ‘Freemium’ Trial

Rhapsody's new ad for its 60 day trial

Rhapsody's new television ad, which airs during 'The Daily Show' and 'Jersey Shore,' touts a significantly-expanded free version in advance of Spotify's rumored U.S. launch.

Two weeks doesn’t seem to be enough to convince people that they want to pay $10 per month for Rhapsody’s music subscription — even though that subscription is worth a lot more than it used to be, thanks to apps that run on Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), Android and Blackberry platforms.

Previous versions of Rhapsody and other subscription services required wonky, Microsoft-DRMed hardware. These days, Rhapsody and the rest run on the smartphone hardware many people carry around anyway.

But even given this major hardware advance, Rhapsody’s 14 days may not have been long enough for people to decide they couldn’t live without it. Across the pond, Spotify has had better luck by letting people listen for as many months as they want, without paying or entering their credit card information. (Updated: To be fair, Rhapsody has also offered 25 free full-track streams per month, no credit card or verified email required, since June 2008.)

In a televised ad campaign running on Comedy Central during the popular Daily Show/Colbert Report nightly timeslot, Rhapsody has been touting a major upgrade to digital music subscription’s free trial, from a discouraging 14 days to a “just might get you hooked” 60 day trial period — much closer to Spotify’s unlimited “freemium” model:

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Unlike Spotify, whose subscription formula has proven popular in Europe, Rhapsody’s new free offering still requires users to submit their credit card information up-front. Meanwhile, Spotify requires no credit card, although its latest version limits free listeners to 20 hours per month.

Speaking of Spotify, although executives polled at a recent event didn’t see it launching in the U.S. by June, chatter has been increasing that it will in fact launch here following a growing number of label deals – possibly even in time for SXSW, where Spotify declined to announce a U.S. launch during our keynote interview. Could this be the year?

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