Monday, June 30, 2008

Rhapsody Turns Up the Volume

Rhapsody, the music store jointly owned by Real Networks and Viacom Inc's MTV Networks, is about to launch a media assault of $50 million dollars to promote its new and changing music store. Rhapsody is the music store for MTV music sites and iLike, one of the most popular music applications on Facebook.

It already sells music on a subscription service, allowing unlimited song streaming for $13 to $15 a month,. It now will sell MP3 downloads with the goal of getting them played on iPods and join the band of players, Napster, Amazon, WalMart, now challenging iTunes. Rhapsody will also now be available on mobile phones via Verizon Wireless's Vcast music service, enabling users to buy and download a song via their mobiles.

Last month Napster Inc joined WalMart and Amazon inn launching their MP3 store. Recently Amazon announced the roll out of their MP3 offer to the UK and globally. However iTunes continues to dominate music sales in the United States selling over 5 billion songs since it launched in 2003.

At one end we see the four major music manufacturers removing DRM and now at the other end the take-up and availability of these files via major retailers, music traders and the likes of Nokia. We also see a blurring of subscription and download which is going to offer consumers even more options. What is clear is that iTunes will not have it all their own way moving forward.

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