For Mac fanatics, news of Rhapsody.com couldn't have been sweeter-sounding. Available in beta form since December 5, Rhapsody.com offers its pioneering audio-streaming service to non-Windows types, thanks to its browser-based interface. Now, you no longer need to download the entire Windows-only jukebox application, though you still need to download a plug-in (Rhapsody Player) to listen to streams. The download is quick, no credit card is required, and the application is much less obtrusive than previous RealNetwork offerings.
A bonus for signing up includes 25 free streams per month. You can also share music and playlists by e-mailing or IM-ing them to friends. The free version includes My Rhapsody, a customizable personal page that suggests artists and songs based on personal preference, excellent artist-based editorial anecdotes, a user-created Playlist Central, and a robust and well-mixed radio station page (25 stations), which is the real reason why Mac and Linux users should be interested, as iTunes' radio feature is neither flexible nor interactive.
You will notice that Rhapsody.com has a few holes in song selection on newer albums. For instance, only about half the songs on Ludacris's Disturbing Tha Peace are available for streaming. The song listings actually mirror the full service and the non-streamable songs can still be purchased when you're in the music store environment. You can always get unlimited access to Rhapsody's nearly 1.5 million songs with ad-free radio for $9.99 per month. In order to purchase music for burning and transferring to devices, you still need to download the entire application, which is only available for Windows. One of our associate VPs--a dedicated Mac user--is elated that Rhapsody is available for the Mac. Please comment in TalkBack if you have a favorite Mac-centric streaming-audio source.