RealNetworks’ Rhapsody music service has joined the ranks of online stores selling DRM-free MP3 music:
RealNetworks on Sunday announced several improvements to its Rhapsody music service, including a new online music store and integration with Verizon’s V Cast mobile phone music service.
Taking a cue from competitors such as Amazon and Napster, Rhapsody’s new Web-based music store sells a catalog of universally compatible (DRM-free) MP3 files from all four major music labels (Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner, and EMI), as well as a selection of independents.
The new Rhapsody store represents a departure from the strictly software-based music subscription model on which the company was founded.
Rhapsody’s Web-based MP3 music store offers the majority of its catalog at $.99 cents per song and $9.99 per album. While Rhapsody’s MP3 pricing is competitive with the industry-leading iTunes music store, it’s slightly more expensive than Amazon and considerably more expensive than eMusic.
As a competitive advantage, the new Rhapsody’s store allows users to preview entire songs prior to purchase–a stark contrast to the 30-second song previews shoppers have come to expect.
The more the merrier, I’d say. There’s more by following the link, but also note that there is a kickoff promotion:
Open an account and your first album is on us
Shopping for music online just got easier. The new Rhapsody MP3 Store lets you listen to entire songs before you buy them, provides recommendations, and delivers high-quality MP3s that can be played on your iPod or any other MP3 player.
If you’re one of the first 100,000 to create an account by Independence Day, we’ll automatically apply a $10 credit to your first album purchase. The credit must be used by midnight Pacific time, July 4, 2008 – so sign up and start shopping today. Limit one per household.