A leader in the music streaming industry, Rhapsody got its start in 1999 when founder Tim Bratton teamed up with J. P. Lester, Sylvain Rebaud, Alexandre Brouaux, Nick Sincaglia, and Dave Lampton to create an engine that could stream music online. They used this engine in two different radio services called TuneTo.com and Aladdin, both of which were eventually bought out.
In 2001 Aladdin became what we now call Rhapsody.
Rhapsody was officially launched in December of that year and became the first streaming service to offer unlimited, on-demand listening for a flat rate. They continued to build up their catalog with different music labels as well.
Until 2010 RealNetworks was the parent company of Rhapsody until Rhapsody became its own independent business. Within a year of becoming independent, they gained about 100,000 new subscribers. In October 2011 they began to pursue taking control of the famous Napster, a company that many people used to stream music with until other competitors emerged.
With headquarters in Seattle, Washington, Rhapsody (and now Napster) also has offices in San Francisco, California; New York, New York; and, oddly enough, Frankfurt, Germany.
Interested in streaming with them? Getting started with Rhapsody is simple.
Before you create an account, you'd need to decide between two types of accounts:
- unRadio, which costs $4.99 per month and gives you ad-free listening with an unlimited number of skips and streaming on the Web and your phone
- Premier, which costs $9.99 per month and includes ad-free listening; an unlimited number of skips; the ability to download any song, album, or playlist you want; and streaming on the Web, your phone, and a home device
Once you decide which account you prefer, you sign up by providing your email address, creating a password, and agreeing to their terms of service (such as your billing date and other logistics). If you do choose Rhapsody, here are the pros and cons you'll run into.
To its credit, Rhapsody has been operating for well over a decade-which speaks well of the company and its staff, considering how competitive music streaming is today. With that many years of experience, Rhapsody has had plenty of time to work through technical issues, learn how to please customers, and even go with the flow of a changing economy.
Possibly your first impression of Rhapsody will be its website, and Rhapsody has excelled in this department too.
The web designers for Rhapsody have done an excellent job organizing the site to be user-friendly and intuitive. At the top of the webpage are tabs that guide you to information about the company itself, instructions to register for a subscription, and answers to other commonly asked questions. It also directs you to a page that shows the benefits of both unRadio and Premier plans, which makes it easier for users to decide which plan is right for them.
In short, Rhapsody makes crucial information visible-which makes your life easier.
Rhapsody also works on a variety of platforms, including Web, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Ford Sync, MP3 players, and desktop for Windows.
Regardless of your device but depending on your account type, you'll love these benefits of Rhapsody:
- Ad-free streaming
- An unlimited number of skips and repeats
- The ability to download and purchase MP3s
- On-demand listening, where you handpick the songs you listen to
- The ability to create and save personalized playlists
- A library of over 32 million songs
Most of those perks come with even the basic package.
But that's not all.
Rhapsody includes a lot of extra features that make streaming music much less stressful. For one thing, they have parental controls that let you flag explicit songs or other music you don't want your family (or yourself) listening to. They also feature staff picks-favorite songs, artists, and albums listed by Rhapsdoy's professional music editors. With these options, Rhapsody gives you more control over your music and helps you discover new tracks at the same time.
Rhapsody's prices may seem normal, but compared to other streaming services, they don't offer you as many perks for what you pay. Considering that unRadio doesn't even offer on-demand listening and downloading, $4.99 per month is actually relatively pricey for just ad-free streaming.
What Rhapsody really lacks, though, is a free version for users who can't or won't pay for streaming. Even their free trial is shorter than most competitors-no more than 14 days of free listening for unRadio. The bit rate with Rhapsody is lower than most providers too-no higher than 192 kbps.
Another limitation with Rhapsody is its market. Unless you use Napster, Rhapsody is only available in the United States. That makes it difficult for traveling with your music library. And as wonderful as the company website is, their customer support leaves much to be desired. They provide an email address and articles on the help page to cover your most commonly asked questions. But if you have a more urgent technical question, billing issue, or other problem that requires immediate feedback, you don't have the option to contact a live representative.
The Bottom Line
As a longer-term streaming service, Rhapsody can boast what many competitors can't: 13 years of service and the fact that they were the first to offer unlimited on-demand streaming for a flat-rate fee. That makes Rhapsody a leader in the music streaming industry. Their innovation and flexibility have allowed them to change along with the economy and please users throughout a decade when music and online media have been in such high demand for consumers.
There's no denying that this company's pros outweigh its cons. As long as you're prepared to pay for it, with Rhapsody you'll enjoy ad-free listening, streaming on a variety of devices, and convenient features. What's more, you'll gain access to an extensive track library and benefit from a company with a strong reputation.