PROS / Rhapsody offers digital music for purchase and has a subscription service for unlimited listening.
CONS / Not all songs playable on Rhapsody are available for purchase, and downloaded songs have heavy DRM protection.
VERDICT / Because Rhapsody offers an unlimited listening subscription, it is a good place to enjoy your favorite music and discover new artists.
Rhapsody is one of the most popular and well-known names in the music download industry. Rhapsody has more than 5 million titles in its library, offering excellent search capabilities, and quick, convenient downloads, winning our TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award.
Rhapsody offers subscription and pay-per song options. Their subscription services enable users to download an unlimited number of songs to their computers or MP3 players. However, all of these songs are encrypted with digital rights management (DRM) and will no longer work if the subscription is canceled.
The newest addition to the Rhapsody family is the MP3 Store. Rhapsody has taken note of Amazon MP3’s model and has created their own. All tracks and albums sold in the MP3 store are DRM-Free and can be used on iPod, transferred to any other portable music device, loaded to an unlimited number of computers and burned to an unlimited number of CDs. Individual tracks cost $.99 and albums sell for $9.99.
The only thing keeping Rhapsody out of the top three is their song selection. Even though they have more than 5 million songs, not all of them are available for purchase. We found Rhapsody had a lesser selection than both Napster and Amazon MP3.
MP3 Music Selection
With about five million titles and 22 genres of music available, Rhapsody is definitely an over-achiever in the music download industry. We were impressed with this store's selection and are confident that you can find almost any artist or song.
In addition to their subscription services, Rhapsody has introduced an MP3 store that has albums and tracks in MP3 format compatible with all media players. Although the selection is a bit smaller than it's subscription library, we found the library to be comparable, offering a number of popular artists and albums.
Previously, if you were a subscriber, you could get discounts on purchased tracks. Since Rhapsody has introduced the MP3 store, this option is no longer available although you can still buy songs from Rhapsody. All options are MP3 for $.99.
Unlike iTunes and Napster, Rhapsody is focusing its energy toward album sales rather than individual tracks. The average price for an album is $9.99.
Rhapsody offers all the search capabilities we expect to see in a top-rated music download service, including artist, album and title. We enjoyed using the search box because Rhapsody’s search engine will suggest artists and albums as you type; this is great if you are unsure of the correct spelling of an artist’s name. However, when a name is typed incorrectly, Rhapsody doesn’t suggest other possible options or spellings.
If you don't know the song or artist, or if you just want to browse, you can search by genre and subgenres. We found everything we were looking for with ease.
This service also offers interesting information and reviews from Rhapsody and Rolling Stone.
Rhapsody comes with its own integrated music player, which allows you to download and listen to music faster. We found the player to be exceptionally easy to use and importing music that is already on your hard drive is almost automatic. You can also import your own CDs. You need this music player if you subscribe, but it is not necessary if you are just purchasing music.
If you are only interested in the MP3 download store, it is suggested, but not required you install Rhapsody’s MP3 download manager. The download manager is a small application that helps manage the songs and albums you download from Rhapsody’s MP3 store. Once your songs are downloaded, the manager will automatically add your music to Real Player, iTunes or Rhapsody’s music player. The Rhapsody download manager is only compatible with Windows operating systems.
Songs downloaded through the subscription service are protected using DRM. They are only compatible with Microsoft PlaysForSure devices like Creative Zen, Samsung and SanDisk. Rhapsody’s subscription service is not compatible with iPod or Zune. However, music downloaded from the MP3 store will work on all MP3 portable devices including iPod and Zune. MP3s are encoded at a 256 bit rate.
Rhapsody also has a free account that allows you to listen to 25 songs in their entirety for free, not just 30 second clips.
Unfortunately, Rhapsody does not offer additional digital media like movies, television or audiobooks.
We didn't experience any problems while downloading Rhapsody. The process is simple; just click a few buttons and you're ready to start searching for songs. If you choose to install the integrated music player, spend a few extra moments during installation to read all the pop-up boxes. If you’re not careful, Rhapsody RealPlayer will set itself up as your default music player.
Rhapsody has many options for the music enthusiast including subscription and per-song options.
If you buy per-song, you can download individual songs and pay per track or album. These songs are yours to burn and transfer to MP3 players, much like iTunes. We had no problems using the Rhapsody download manager for our downloaded songs.
If you subscribe, you can download as many songs as your heart desires for $12.99 a month, but these songs are tethered to your computer. You cannot burn them or transfer them. For $14.99 a month, Rhapsody’s “To Go” subscription allows you to transfer songs to your MP3 player, but they can only be played for as long as you subscribe. When you cancel your subscription those titles will no longer play.
Rhapsody comes with above-average help, offering a searchable knowledge base of FAQs, a Getting Started Wizard and a community message board.
In spite of the fact that Rhapsody is a veteran Internet music provider, they realize they are up against some heavy competition. It is obvious they are really pushing for their MP3 store to take off and start competing with contenders like iTunes; unfortunately, it seems services like Napster and Amazon MP3 are beating them to the punch. However, if you are used to using Rhapsody and comfortable with their services, it is a great place to start your music hunt.
For a fun and exciting way to put your music downloads to use, be sure and check out our DJ Software review site.