Linking to text is so passé
April 13, 2006 5:52 PM   Subscribe

Rhapsody Distributes Their Music. So you're a blogger mentioning a song and wondering whether to link to iTunes or the Amazon album page? Link to Rhapsody: U.S. based listeners get to listen to 25 whole songs for free (per month).
posted by Firas (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Would come in useful in AskMe. I think this is so amazing. Are we finally approaching a sane way to reference music?
posted by Firas at 5:55 PM on April 13, 2006

To play music, you'll need to do a quick install
And we do mean quick:

* Less than 500kb to download
* No credit required
* No registration required

Install Now

Minimum system requirements: OS-X 10.3.9 or higher

By clicking 'Install Now' you agree to abide by the End User License Agreement and Terms & Conditions.

...And that's when I closed the tab.
posted by odinsdream at 5:57 PM on April 13, 2006

I fucking HATE real.

More than I hate iTunes.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:59 PM on April 13, 2006

Yeah, I want stuff for free and I want it on my terms, god damn it.
posted by 517 at 6:08 PM on April 13, 2006

Install software from RealNetworks to listen to free music? I'd rather pay $25 to Apple for peace-of-mind. Seriously. This is the corporate version of making less educated users install spyware in exchange for lyrics or greeting cards, and is only more legitimate because Real has somehow managed to stay above the fold PR-wise. I wonder if rashes of Rhapsody software installs and their accompanying extras will finally push the quiet backlash to its tipping point.
posted by VulcanMike at 6:53 PM on April 13, 2006

...And that's when I closed the tab.
posted by odinsdream at 7:57 PM CST on April 13 [!]

Me too. I'm appalled that a software company would have a license agreement and a TOS.

Unheard of. These truly are the end times.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:54 PM on April 13, 2006

Of course, the above statement assumes that enough people will take advantage of the feature to make it relevant, and I doubt that will even happen, as I suspect many bloggers sophisitcated enough to pursue music linking are also sophisticated enough to avoid asking their readers to go down this path...
posted by VulcanMike at 6:55 PM on April 13, 2006

Ynoxas; ha. ha.

Perhaps you should actually read those two documents. The first thing that's bothersome is that I'm asked to grant them access to my computer in order to install software with an unknown purpose (since I already have music players that can play music, I know it must not be just a music player).

The second, much more important thing is that I'm giving them the authority to automatically upgrade this installed software with a new version whenever they want to. There is no limit to what this new version would include, and what it would do.

Maybe you're comfortable with that - I'm not.
posted by odinsdream at 7:02 PM on April 13, 2006

Well, I approach this with the perspective of a very happy ex-Rhapsody-user who intends to sign up again ASAP. I can't imagine why anyone would pay for individual tracks when you can listen to all the music in the world whenever you want for $10/mo. But I'm not interested in debating the a-la-carte vs. subscription models of music really. Do what works for you. My point is that unlike RealPlayer, the software they use for Rhapsody doesn't harass the user.

odinsdream, it's a proprietary music player, just like iTunes, that works within their authorization/licensing framework. As for automagic updates, well, I think all software should update transparently.

The reason I think this is cool for bloggers and random links is that you can listen to songs without having to decide whether to actually pay someone for the song. It's like quoting, you know? You don't have to buy the book to discuss the ideas in a book, you shouldn't need to buy music to listen to it once or twice. I love the idea; I think more companies should do it.
posted by Firas at 7:11 PM on April 13, 2006

Also, re: 'sane way to reference music', I was thinking of the fact that their URLs are just, which rocks. What I'd really like is a web service that just aggregates these services and links to reviews etc. in a low-key design so you can link to and people can follow the links to whatever service they use, perhaps link to google music for the lyrics, etc.
posted by Firas at 7:15 PM on April 13, 2006

Firas; like I said before - you're okay with that, I'm not. iTunes does not automatically update. I upgrade it by choice along with my other system updates. I upgrade all my software by choice.
posted by odinsdream at 7:40 PM on April 13, 2006

I'm a Rhapsody user, and the software doesn't automatically update. Instead it alerts the user when an update is available and you then have the option of accepting or not.

Personally, I think Rhapsody is the best thing since the internet - $10/month gives me access to my own virtual Virgin Megastore (and then some) to play from any computer in the country (you can log in at work, then at home, a friend's house, wherever).

What is it exactly that Rhapsody is doing that is causing so much angst? Just that their legal department has them displaying both a EULA and a TOS? Or is it the vague fear that the agreements are worded loosely enough (aren't they all?) that they might some day start doing something nefarious on your machines like... what? Report you to the Department of Homeland Defense if you listen to the Dixie Chicks?

I would guess that they're big and high profile enough that if they started doing anything evil, word would get out in a New York minute (here on MeFi anyway) and they'd lose a ton of business. I mean, heck, it sounds like MeFites are PREEMPTIVELY writing off Rhapsody for the fear it could, one day, do something naughty (like covertly inserting Barry Manilow into your playlists). The Bush administration would be proud.

(Apparently you can fool 37% of the people all the time).
posted by Davenhill at 2:01 AM on April 14, 2006

America only. Meh. Wake me up when there's a solution for the 95% of the world that isn't America.

BTW - why do people have Real so much? Realplayer for both linux amd OSX is a fine piece of software and has never nagged me or attempted to install anything I didn't want.
posted by salmacis at 2:28 AM on April 14, 2006


I'd rather link to the mp3 myself.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:31 AM on April 14, 2006

Haven't we covered why DRM services are fundamentally hostile to customers before?

The last time I installed Real on my PC, it persistently popped up advertising at random times. No, I don't want to watch the new Beyoncé video, please go away. I removed it from my Windows startup, but the next time I watched some Real content, it silently reinstalled itself. How exactly is this different from malicious adware? I don't give a second chance easily to companies that demonstrate contempt for me. I'm currently a happy user of Real Alternative, although I got so used to avoiding Real content that I don't use it very much.

As for Rhapsody, you've got to be crazy to use it to build a music collection. You own your music at the whim of Rhapsody, Real, Microsoft, and the RIAA. Your music will only work with software and hardware made by companies that have paid royalties to the DRM providers. If you move out of the US, your entire music collection disappears. If licensing contracts change, you can lose individual songs and albums (Rhapsody has already used this clause to revoke access to tracks people thought they could continue to listen to using Rhapsody On Demand). Buy a new PC, you have to go through the entire licensing process again. I don't want to spend time on the phone with customer service understanding their byzantine rules just so I can listen to my music.

You can pay extra to burn files to CD, but it's a hassle, and some tracks are not available for burning due to licensing restrictions. You have to transcode to be able to use a portable player that doesn't support Microsoft DRM, which makes you lose sound quality in a way that even non-audiophile-obsessives can hear. You can only listen to music using their player.

It's worth noting that Apple DRM has most of the same problems. MP3 is popular because it works everywhere, will all players and all software tools. That's what people want, and lots of them would pay for it, except that the music industry can't give it to them without losing the monopoly control that underpins their business. Check out eMusic for an example of how independent labels can make money selling DRM-free mp3s.

Bloggers will not adopt this, except under duress. A quick check of the top 5 songs on the Hype Machine, which aggregates over 500 music blogs, shows that none of them are available on Rhapsody.

The duress option is a possibility. The RIAA hasn't found an effective way to control music blogs, and their business model depends on stamping out any serious alternative to their distribution and promotion channels. I expect them to start launching lawsuits against hosters of tracks found on mp3 blogs, in order to force them to move to Rhapsody.
posted by fuzz at 4:15 AM on April 14, 2006

Ad Filter
posted by Thorzdad at 4:27 AM on April 14, 2006

Real has improved a lot since the dark days of their bloated spyware which installed like 20 things without asking. I'm still not ready to trust them completely, but I do know that it has improved a lot based on an install on one of my secondary computers.
posted by cell divide at 4:54 AM on April 14, 2006

..perhaps link to google music for the lyrics, etc.
posted by FirasPoster at 7:15 PM PST on April 13

Google Music? I'm intrigued, but I've never heard of this... nevermind, just googled it - that's so cool!
posted by OverlappingElvis at 5:49 AM on April 14, 2006

Firas - fess up: did someone pay you to make that post?

Ad Filter indeed.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 6:57 AM on April 14, 2006

Rhapsody is great for someone who doesn't really utilize music, but rather just enjoys listening to it. Then the deficiencies of their catalogue or the DRM aren't such a big deal. I've used a friend's subscription to make solid party mixes, and he often has it playing in the background. He never feels the need to buy cds anymore, because he just streams things, and if something disappears, he listens to something else.
I'm on the opposite side of the spectrum, and have little need for Rhapsody (though I'm pretty tempted by eMusic, despite their shifting sands— Like Tzadic's sudden bullshit about pulling songs over a certain length).
posted by klangklangston at 7:55 AM on April 14, 2006

Maybe the people pooh-poohing Rhapsody have installed Real Networks' software before. People saying nice things about it only proves to me that their software now implants a chip in your brain that makes you say nice things about it.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:21 AM on April 14, 2006

As for Rhapsody, you've got to be crazy to use it to build a music collection.

This really isn't for anyone building a music collection. The service they're pushing is Rhapsody Unlimited, where you pay per month for access to everything in their catalog. Stop paying and you've got nothing.

I think you can pay extra to be able to download them to a music player or burn them to a CD, but my impression is that most people who use the service appreciate it for what it is: access to someone else's collection rather than building a music library of one's own.

I wouldn't personally choose this, but I can understand its appeal, especially for younger kids who never made the transition from LP>CD>MP3 and whose relationship to music may be less centered on "ownership" and more related to "access."

I will say that they're not very up front about pricing, though. I had to click around quite a bit to find out it was $9.99/month.
posted by camcgee at 9:24 AM on April 14, 2006

"Maybe the people pooh-poohing Rhapsody have installed Real Networks' software before."

Have you tried RealAlternative, or the BBC version of Real which doesn't have all the crap that Real tries to foist upon its users?
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:50 PM on April 14, 2006

I have Rhapsody, and it makes a lot of sense for me because Sonos supports it. I don't have any portable music players because I don't really travel enough to bother. So the non-portability of Rhapsody is not an issue. And I also don't particularly care about building a music collection. I just want to listen to stuff.

Now I may not be the average would-be customer here, with a hip iPod digital lifestyle and an obsessive desire to own unlimited quantities of music and RIP MIX BURN it all that I want. I just want to listen to stuff at home. Rhapsody is very good for that, and the $10.00 a month I pay for it would equate to, what, less than one CD a month if I was buying CDs?

Also, for those of you who prefer Apple, you should check out Apple's terms for licensing its DRM to third parties. There aren't any. You want to use iTunes? You're buying Apple products only for the rest of your life. Enjoy it. And Microsoft won't license their DRM to multi-room systems. So as far as the evil DRM systems go, Real actually looks pretty good. At least they're trying to win by competing, rather than monopolizing their userbase.
posted by rusty at 1:51 PM on April 14, 2006

I should specify -- iTunes Music Store. Sonos does support music sharing from iTunes the Mac application, and Apple's lossless format. Just not the ITMS DRMed files.
posted by rusty at 1:52 PM on April 14, 2006

U.S. Only
We're sorry. We have detected that you are outside of the United States. This service is currently only available to residents within the United States.

Not that I'd want to install anything by Real ever again anyway
posted by Lanark at 3:42 PM on April 14, 2006

So, let me get this straight. If I advertise for REAL and spend time downloading their rootkit like player ... I get to listen to 25 songs ... humm, it seems there are easier ways to listen to 25 songs ... um, the radio? or maybe the 5,000 free internet radio stations? Or even on amazon if you love the real/WMA format ... itunes give you at least 2-3 free songs a month ... I thought Metafilter didn't allow shills or advertising? Isn't that all this is? Why is this post still up?
posted by jbelkin at 4:12 PM on April 14, 2006

rusty wrote "I just want to listen to stuff at home. Rhapsody is very good for that, and the $10.00 a month I pay for it would equate to, what, less than one CD a month if I was buying CDs?"

So you don't have a problem with them associating all the music you listen to back to any information you provide to them and potentially selling it to third parties? Oh, and secretly. Perhaps also your video viewing habits, given this. Surely all the media you consume on your computer should be available for a price (paid to someone else).

For most of us, this is about trust rather than utility.
posted by VulcanMike at 6:22 PM on April 14, 2006

Hell, all the music I listen to is available to anyone who cares to look on
posted by salmacis at 2:31 AM on April 15, 2006

salmacis, Lanark & co.: Yeah, I think any company wishing to corner the market should get worldwide performance rights for 10 years or so… expensive, yes, but if you can come up with the capital to get the licenses you can do so much!

insomnia_lj: me too—but first you need to get the mp3, then upload it, and even then you're skirting the law—you can only do that up to a certain point before you become an 'omgz0rz pirate'.

fuzz: yeah, I hate DRM too. I think eMusic and Magnatune etc. need to be supported, to prove that DRM-free selling is the way of the not near, but eventual future. In fact, that's one of the main reasons I tried Rhapsody instead of iTunes a couple years ago… I don't understand how iTunes type services can tell me I've 'bought' a song when it's DRMed. Fuck that.

Thorzdad, MaxVonCretin, jbelkin, & co.: No, nobody paid me to make this FPP… I was literally as excited about this as my post suggests. I was thinking that we'd never, as a worldwide culture, get to say 'here's a song' and be able to play it for someone without having to pay for it. Or even link to a song in general, for that matter, that's not proprietarily linked to iTunes, or some other service. It's like what I said about 'quoting' above—it's almost immoral to have a cultural artifact that's inaccessible like that. So when I saw this writeup on O'Reilly Radar blog that they not only will they let you listen to songs for free, they also have discoverable URLs, I was like, 'omigosh!' and posted it to MeFi. It's hard to impress me when it comes to software, so I sort of assumed that if I think this is a game-changing move then others would too. Guess not!

cammcgee: yeah, hidden pricing is one of my pet peeves. I think they should be more upfront about it.

jbelkin: you miss my point. Think up 25 favourite songs of yours that're published by RIAA-affiliated labels and link me to it (legally). I want to hear them. Come on? The reason I'm pushing the Rhapsody thing is that they're literally the first people ever to do this.

Regarding subscription vs. a la carte, I don't like discussing it because the Apple fanboys tend to shout everyone else down (wonder what'll happen if Apple starts offering subscription services? Will people who crunched the numbers and hollered that a la carte is the only way to go suddenly see a changed world?)

Anyway, here's my reasoning. For me, music is a utility, it's as necessary as food or heat or water or net access. I don't want to think, "Hey, I want to listen to such and such a song" and then have to wonder "but should I pay $.99 for it? If I want to explore the whole album should I pay more than $10 just because I feel like it? Is this really worth it? Hmm."

I'd rather just say, hey, I want to listen to this music, hit play and forget about it. I'd pay $25/month for that.

What I noticed when I was using Rhapsody is that I was way more adventurous—getting out of my 'just rap' silo and starting to like lots of rock, classical and even pop, rai, etc. Would I pay $10 everytime I wanted to 'graze' around tasting the different genres? Hell no.

Again, this is only my choice because that's how I listen: I jump from genre to genre, between artists and albums, get obsessed with an album for three weeks and then forget about it for the next few months, perhaps just wanting to listen to one track from it an year after I last heard it. I don't 'build collections'. If it plays for me, I don't care who 'owns' the license to play it for me.

I suppose if you listen to the same music again, and again, and again, and again—forever!—and are content with having to make a scarcity-based decision about what to listen to next, which is something completely alien to my habits, maybe then a la carte makes more sense. I'd rather rent via Netflix or Blockbuster than 'buy videos' for the same reason. Sure, I might buy some, but they had better be actual 'favourites'.
posted by Firas at 10:41 AM on April 15, 2006

Ok, not 'as necessary as food or heat or water', but as necessary as net access or other things people subscribe to. i.e., more of a utility than a luxury item.
posted by Firas at 10:45 AM on April 15, 2006

VulcanMike: You mean third parties might already know that I secretly listen to way more pop-punk than could possibly be good for me? Oh noes! I hope they haven't already put me on the Good Charlotte Listening Potential Terrorists Watchlist.
posted by rusty at 11:05 AM on April 17, 2006

rusty wrote "Oh noes! I hope they haven't already put me on the Good Charlotte Listening Potential Terrorists Watchlist."

You won't be so smug when they sell their database to Experian and pay a higher interest rate than Charlotte Church fans. :-p
posted by VulcanMike at 7:39 PM on April 19, 2006

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