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Five reasons I love Rhapsody

CNET editor Jasmine France expounds why she is all wrapped-up in Rhapsody.

On last week's MP3 Insider podcast, Senior MP3 Editor Donald Bell and I found ourselves wandering off on a tangent about cable television. Namely, I refuse to pay the astronomical fee Comcast insists on charging for even the most basic of packages. (Listen to the show.) Frankly, they're already siphoning off plenty of my hard-earned cash for the Internet service alone.

Personally, I'd rather fork over $15 each month to Rhapsody for all the music I can listen to than bleed out $60 to Comcast, especially considering the fact that almost every TV show I want to watch can be streamed free--and legally--from sites such as Hulu, Netflix, and Veoh...heck, even the network's own Web sites offer up recent programming for free. However, while I may be perfectly comfortable "renting" my music, Donald makes a fair point that many people still can't come to terms with the idea that they don't get to own the music outright, especially when they're getting yet another bill in the mail each month.

And so here we are...with me making yet another attempt to convince all you hold-outs that subscription music is great. I'm all about Rhapsody, and here's why:

  1. "Free" for all: Rhapsody is one of a handful of music services that let's you listen to any song you want, on demand, for free. Yes, there is a catch: you only get 25 free streams per month...but that's better than nothing! Because of this aspect, you can share songs and playlists--via e-mail, IM, or blog/Web site--with anyone, even if he or she is not a subscriber. (Another service worth checking out with a similar feature is La La, which gives you 50 free song credits for streaming.)
  2. Yahoo search-to-play: In February of last year, Yahoo discontinued its own music subscription service and transferred its customers to Rhapsody. One of the results of the deal is the special artist "box" that pops up at the top of the search results when you look up a band using Yahoo search. The box includes various multimedia content, including push-to-play song links that pop up a browser-integrated Rhapsody player bar. This one-step solution, while not without some flaws, is a great idea for providing instant musical gratification for subscribers and nonsubscribers alike.
  3. Clicking the arrow next to the official site link brings out a special Rhapsody player bar that's integrated into the browser.
  4. $13/month for all-you-can eat: Or all you can listen to, as the case may be. That's about the cost of one full-album CD--but instead of access to, oh, say, 14 tracks, you get to listen to any of the ones available in Rhapsody's music catalog, which at last count had 6 million tracks and growing. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
  5. To go music: If that's not enough to convince you, consider this: for $2 more, you can transfer almost any of those songs to a compatible portable device. I have about 900 songs on my MP3 player; roughly half of those have been ripped directly from CDs, while the other half come from my Rhapsody subscription. Now, one could pay the standard 99-cents-per-song for those 450 songs and be out $445.50...or one could put that towards a 2.5 year subscription and constantly rotate out those songs with any of the millions of catalog tracks. I know what my choice is.
  6. Channels: Rhapsody's Channels section offers a wide selection of Internet radio stations for various genres, themes, and decades. They can also act as dynamically updating playlists on players that support Rhapsody DNA (which is, unfortunately, quite few). As we well know, I'm a big fan of taking the work out of the playlist equation; I'd much rather have some adept music editors making them for me.

It's true: I'm a longstanding subscription music faithful, and I know I'm not completely I? Still, that doesn't mean I don't get frustrated by Rhapsody and its limitations; I have yet to come across a perfect Web service or piece of software. What about the rest of you? Have any Rhapsody horror stories, or any major gripes about subscription music? I welcome all feedback below.

Follow-up: Five reasons Rhapsody really irks me.