A couple weeks back, I strapped on my best convincing boots and had a little. But all is not roses in the realm of subscription music, and Rhapsody is definitely no exception to the rule. In fact, I have yet to come across the perfect piece of music software or the perfect online music service. True, I am exceedingly picky and jaded, but I also believe that there is always room for improvement when it comes to technology, be it hardware or software.
Certainly, Rhapsody could use some improvement. As much as I love the service and would have difficulty living without it at this point, there have been multiple occasions when my irritations with it have led to frustrated utterances. Most of the problems I have with Rhapsody are tied directly to the software, but as you need to have that installed to organize your own music and use the service effectively with portable devices, such as the Walkman, I feel these gripes are perfectly justified.
- Software interface issues: The Rhapsody software just looks so...1997. If you don't believe me, open up the software alongside Windows Media Player. See that pretty stacked-album-art view in WMP? Nice, isn't it? I'm not particularly fond of how Rhapsody organizes music, either. You use a drop down to switch between artist, album, and genre views, which are listed on the left, while related songs pop up in the right column; programs such as WMP and iTunes offer more elegant navigation. I also don't like that in the artist, album, or genre window, you can't simply type a letter--say "H"--and be taken directly to the artists that start with that letter.
- Transfer hangups: In my estimation, my portable device transfers hang about 40 percent of the time. For example, I'll be transferring a list of 30 songs and the files will just freeze up at 17. Unplugging the player and reconnecting doesn't help, nor does shutting down and restarting Rhapsody. I just have to wait until the software decides it's "ready" to give me my music to go. It always corrects on its own and the timeline is completely arbitrary. Seriously...what the??
- General bugginess: I've spent a lot of time using a variety of software jukeboxes, and they have all suffered from bugginess from time to time. However, the one that full-on crashes the most--by far--is Rhapsody. And this hasn't been a problem recently, but it suffered from a rather nasty, long-lasting bug that wouldn't let me sign into my account for certain periods...again, completely at the app's whim.
- No music ownership: True, you can buy songs directly from Rhapsody for 99-cents a pop, but how about offering a little incentive for the people who pay a monthly subscription fee? I would love to see 25-cents--heck, even 10-cents--knocked of the price of tracks for subscribers. Or do what Microsoft does with Zune Marketplace and give users a "track pack" each month for outright ownership of a select number of songs (in unprotected MP3 format, of course).
- Not compatible with Mac or iPod: OK, I don't really care that Rhapsody isn't compatible with the iPod, but it would be great if it was, since the majority of MP3 player users own iPods. It would give the service a lot more traction. True, it's a bit unfair for me to put this on a list about Rhapsody when it's really a limitation of the iPod, but there you have it. More unfortunate in my mind is that while you can use the Rhapsody Web streaming service from any system with Internet, the software download is only compatible with Windows. This means that although my Walkman works with my Mac, I can't use the to-go aspect of the subscription service from that computer.
What do you think? Have I hit the nail on the head, or am I just a big whiner who's impossible to please? Please feel free to add your own complaints in the comments section below (or--hey--come to Rhapsody's defense, if you feel so inclined).