Rhapsody app makes duet of streaming music and tickets

The vanguard service in streaming music is broadening its vision with a live-event tickets app, as the field for its primary business grows crowded.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
3 min read

Cantankerous critics gripe that nothing is new in music anymore, except ways of melding and repackaging what has come before.

Rhapsody's new app does just that, and the company is hoping the combination will hit the right notes to win new subscribers and distinguish it in a crowded field of competitors

The company, one of the oldest Web subscription music services, is launching a concert tickets app on Tuesday.

It's the second of Rhapsody's companion apps to its namesake one for streaming music, following up Songmatch, a Shazam-like offering that plugs tunes into playlists. Rhapsody has more apps on the way, as it turns greater focus to mobile.

It launches Tuesday for iOS, with an Android version to follow.

Other apps already exist to find shows and purchase tickets. Live Nation, the huge concert promoter and world's largest ticket seller via its Ticketmaster merger, has an app to sell tickets -- and is nearing the launch of a new platform that will give it more flexibility. Ticket reseller StubHub, a unit of eBay, dominates the secondary ticket market and has an app as well.

But Rhapsody Concerts is setting itself apart by marrying ticketing with its on-demand streaming capabilities. To find live events, users can search by artist, venue, or what is nearby, either by a search or with GPS. Ticket purchases occur in the app itself, powered by SeatGeek. SeatGeek's program shares revenue of the ticket sales with partners like Rhapsody.

Unlike other ticket apps, the Rhapsody offering can take users into an on-demand choices -- subscribers can listen to the performer's full albums right away, get to know the music of opening acts, or find similar artists.

Digital music is one of the few corners of the music industry that is flourishing, which has attracted a diverse and crowded field of competitors. In addition to other streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, giants like Google and Apple are throwing their weight behind their own challengers.

As consumer spending on concert tickets recovers after the economic downturn, another company with its model threatened by new entrants has turned to live events as a new pillar of support. Redbox's DVD rental kiosks are the main profit engine under the hood of parent company Coinstar, still named for the coin-counting kiosks it was founded on.

But online video streaming outfits like Netflix and other forms of video on demand have the days of the DVD format numbered. Redbox has partnered with Verizon for its own streaming video offering, but it also is testing live-event ticketing at kiosks as a way to leverage its machinery into a new way to make money, still linked to entertainment.

Having expanded the foray to a second market earlier this year, Redbox has found the strategy offers inventory owners and venues a way to promote their events to entertainment-conscious consumers at the nearly ubiquitous kiosks and immediately sell tickets to them in a simple way.

Rhapsody's new app is aiming for the same behavior, and it's putting it in the palm of your hand.

"Our members are huge music fans and we have always understood that fans want to 'do more than listen,'" said Paul Springer, Rhapsody's senior vice president of product and design. "We wanted to go another step forward for fans by helping them discover great live events."