Rhapsody approved for iPhone

If you live in the United States and want all-you-can-play subscription music for your iPhone, you now have a solution from an industry pioneer.

If you were hoping for Apple to announce a subscription-based music service for the iPhone and the iPod Touch on Wednesday like I was , suppress your disappointment: early this morning, Apple approved Rhapsody for iPhone, and it's available in the iTunes Store.

It's the second such service Apple has approved, but the first, Spotify , is not available in the United States. (The Rhapsody application is not showing up in search results quite yet, but it is showing up within iTunes.)


Rhapsody was a pioneer in subscription-based music, and I'm a big fan of the service; in 2005, it was the first one to turn me on to the thrill of chasing your whims and surfing randomly among genres, which you can't do with per-download services like iTunes.

In my most recent trial late last year (in conjunction with the Sonos multiroom audio system), I wasn't able to find any significant gaps--if anything, there was too much music, including more versions of the novelty song "Kung Fu Fighting" than I ever imagined--and there is some excellent curation and editorial work, particularly for indie rock artists.

The iPhone app is pretty straightforward: you can search for songs, surf genres and chart-toppers, and create queues and playlists. If you're a fan of Pandora, you'll also appreciate the Rhapsody Radio feature, which creates tailor-made stations built around particular artists or genres. As long as you have an active Wi-Fi or 3G connection, the music should keep playing without interruption.

It's a free download, but to use it, you'll need a Rhapsody to Go subscription, which costs $14.99 a month. That's not quite as good a deal as Microsoft's Zune Pass, which costs the same and gives you 10 permanent MP3 downloads a month, but of course that service requires a Zune, which means that it applies only to about 1.1 percent of the MP3 player market (according to a statistic that Apple snarkily included in its presentation Wednesday) and exactly zero mobile phones.

Apple appears to have seen the light, as it is now allowing subscription-based music to come to the iPhone. It makes my phone's 8GB storage size seem a lot less limiting.

Follow Matt on Twitter.


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