RealNetworks and Viacom plan to spin off the Rhapsody subscription music service, the companies announced Tuesday.
Rhapsody, which has struggled for years to grow its subscriber base, was operated by a joint venture formed by Real and Viacom, parent company of MTV Networks.
At the same time, Real has decided to give up a controlling interest in the music service. The company will no longer own a majority stake in the company and will hold slightly less than 49 percent of the company's shares. Viacom owns a similar amount.
Real agreed to contribute $18 million to the new company. … Read more
Late last week, Rhapsody finally pushed out a beta of its new app for Android devices. The service was aiming to launch the new feature before the holidays, but finalizing the software for public consumption took a bit longer than expected.
The Android version is noticeably different than the one for the iPhone--for a few reasons. Most notably, due to the parameters of each OS, the Android app will run in the background while you use other functions of your device (the iPhone does not allow such activity at this time). Also, Rhapsody for Android has a noticeably darker look … Read more
Billboard analyst Glenn Peoples predicts that RealNetworks will sell its 51 percent stake in music-streaming subscription service Rhapsody in 2010. My question: who'd buy it?
Rhapsody certainly appears to be a drag on RealNetworks' earnings. According to the company's financial filings for the third quarter of 2009, its music businesses--which include Rhapsody and sales of music through the RealPlayer store--posted an operating loss of $10 million. That's better than the $25 million operating loss in the same quarter of 2008, but the fundamentals aren't improving.
Subscriber numbers are down from about 800,000 at the beginning … Read more
For heavy music listeners and explorers of new tunes, subscription-based music services make a lot sense on a mobile device. Instead of being bound to your phone's limited storage, you have access to millions of songs for a single monthly fee.
That's why I picked RealNetworks' Rhapsody (and its competitor Spotify, which isn't yet available in the United States) on the Apple iPhone as one of my five most welcome products of 2009.
Bill Gates has said that prognosticators often overestimate the amount of technological change that will happen in a year, but underestimate the changes that will take place over a decade. With the Zeroes coming to an end this week, and Steve Guttenberg's recent column questioning the viability of recorded music in 2020 as inspiration, here's my pick of 10 trends in music and technology that will shape the next decade.
Songs instead of albums Musicians will always find ways to record their music--it's a fundamental drive, like painting for a painter or writing for a writer. But … Read more
The economy took its toll on digital audio in 2009, with CD sales continuing to decline (even as vinyl makes a resurgence), digital start-ups going bankrupt or disappearing after takeovers, and labels expressing dissatisfaction with would-be digital saviors like MySpace Music. Even so, there was actually quite a lot to cheer this year. The following five products aren't necessarily the best, but to me, they did the most to move the state of digital audio forward in 2009.
MOG offered me a free trial to its subscription-based streaming music service, MOG All Access, which launched on Tuesday. The service costs five bucks a month, and gives you unlimited on-demand streams of more than six million songs from all four major labels and plenty of indies. The site is trying to differentiate itself from competitors like Rhapsody and Napster with high-quality streams--all songs are 320kbps MP3s--and some fairly sophisticated music discovery features, like playlists posted by musicians (David Byrne got the featured spot on the day of launch) and other fans with similar tastes to yours ("Moggers like … Read more
If free ad-supported music services aren't going to make it financially, what about paid subscription services? Rhapsody and RealNetworks continue to soldier along, but RealNetworks is apparently looking for investors to take some portion of the Rhapsody business off its hands, and we haven't heard much about Napster since Best Buy, which acquired it a little over a year ago, slashed subscription prices in May in a bid to build membership.
How far we've come in such a short time. When I began this blog in 2007, finding a particular song online was an exercise in frustration. You could subscribe to an all-you-can-eat service like Rhapsody, but cheapskates and occasional music listeners either had to dig deep, engage with a questionably legal file-trading service, or settle for 30-second previews from iTunes or one of its Web-based competitors.
Since then, as readers of this blog know, dozens of sites offering free streaming music have emerged, from the dead-simple like Songerize and its successor Songite (enter a song title to play it … Read more