May 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Review: Rhapsody’s Smartphone App as Mobile Music Magazine

We’re still interested in Rhapsody’s potential after all these years.

The same subscription service we think is pretty great has long been littered with nuggets of editorial gold. Some reviews they’ve pulled from the dean of American rock critics himself, Robert Christgau, while others, from a staff including heavyweights Justin Farrar and Nick Medina, have brought a curatorial perspective to Rhapsody’s editorial sections.

In March, Rhapsody hired former Village Voice music editor Rob Harvilla to be its managing editor, a move that hints at an increased emphasis on the written word. Harvilla’s still getting his feet wet in their San Francisco offices, but his vision to turn Rhapsody into a content-rich app could change the face of the on-demand service.

Positive: There’s no better site to visit if you want to read about the music that you’re listening to — and you can take all of that great content with you, thanks to this Android/Blackberry/iPhone app. Because it’s a listening service first and foremost, the wealth of music you can learn about is truly astounding (Rhapsody says that it holds  11 million songs). Harvilla watches over his empire by employing a number of genre editors, each of whom is responsible for building out their respective content — artist information, genre descriptions, and album reviews with subjective perspectives.

Negatives: Updating a database as extensive as Rhapsody’s is no walk in the park — a sad truth that rears its ugly head every time you check on an album that’s yet to receive any ink. Also, album reviews don’t seem to be at the forefront of these mobile app developers’ minds. From the player, click on the settings wheel at the top of the screen. Once you do, you’ll see the “View Album Info” option at the bottom of the list. It’s not obvious, but it is there.

Who It’s Great For: People who want brief write-ups designed to encourage exploration and don’t mind paying $10/month for a music subscription will eat this up. Rhapsody’s plan focuses on static content (there’s a blog on the website that’s missing from the app), but this comprehensive database of album reviews, band biographies and genre explanations should leave you a more informed listener.

Rhapsody’s mobile apps

  • coop

     nick dedina has left rhapsody as well as sarah bardem,their world beat writer .
    i robert christgau’s reviews were used because Rhapsody had a connection to the village voice.
    when robert left ,the reviews stopped. he only reviews ” A” material now on his own site.

    the editorial staff is one of the best things about rhapsody–it gives the site a personality.
    i can get more info from the sites that use Rovi ,mog and rdio,but i like the personal touch.

    rhapsody does need to update their content data programs.there are too many multiple artists on a single page-wrong genres .out of date web links and screwy album suggestions.

    rob is already thinking outside the norm.he had a comedy “issue”and had 6 of the writers discuss comedy in different genres. mosi did an article on beastie boys lyrics thru the years.