May 6, 2011 at 11:41 am

Review: Rhapsody

rhapsody appOne of the older kids on the streaming block, Rhapsody launched in 2001 and was cited by Chris Anderson in the “The Long Tail” as one of the prime examples of his theory, which holds that the digital revolution will reward companies that sell small quantities of each of a large number of goods. Since breaking from RealNetworks in 2010, Rhapsody has partnered with MTV and Viacom, and claims to have 750,000 subscribers and over 11 million tracks. The service offers a 14-day free trial and users have to enter credit card information upfront. Afterwards, Rhapsody offers two plans — $10/month to use the app on one mobile device, and $15/month to use it on three devices.

Positives: Rhapsody is a long-tailer’s dream come true. Pre-programmed stations include “Baroque,” “Computer World,” (which pulled up Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” and The The’s “The Sinking Feeling”), and “Healing Winds” (which is likely playing in a legitimate massage parlor right now). The artist stations are solid — Bikini Kill radio brings up the Frumpies and the Slits; Lady Gaga brings up an old Scissor Sisters track and Katy Perry. The “New Releases” section is comprehensive, but the “Just Added” section is confusing in that the selections are obscure and appear to have just been added the Rhapsody catalog. Staff picks are a nice mix of genres. The user interface is clean and easy to use.

Negatives: Rhapsody doesn’t place any emphasis on the social aspect. Users can discover new music through the staff recommendations and radio functions, but it’s better for people who have specific artists and genres they want to access and not as good for those who want to swap tracks and earn cool points with friends.

Who it’s great for: Music aficionados, especially those who love more obscure genres, will appreciate this one. Although Rhapsody doesn’t have the new kid on the block cred or glamour of the newer services, it’s a great experience overall.

Read more cloud-based, on-demand music subscription reviews.