August 2, 2006
I am a rhapsody subscriber. I agree with you, having access to all that music is great, and has actually developed into something I need. Music is one of the most important reasons that I own a computer that is connected to the Internet, second only to general Internet use (email, google, wikipedia, blogs, etc.). But that being said, I am frustrated with Rhapsody for a few reasons:
I am a linux user, would love to use ubuntu as my only operating system, but an forced to live the life of dual-boot do to the lack of any quality music subscription service. As you mentioned, Mac users are in this same boat too.
I hate DRM. I don't care how flexible the DRM rights are, I just don't like the idea of it. When I buy a CD, I can listen to it on as many stereos as I like and make as many copies as I like. That's the way digital music should be. I can sort of accomplish this with rhapsody, by buying songs for $.89 each, or cheaper sometimes if I buy the whole album (not too bad a price), burn the songs to a CD, and then rip them to 128kbps, non-DRM MP3s. Still, more work than it should be, just sell me the 128kbps MP3 and make my life easier.
I have found their software to be buggy. I have been so far unsuccessful in trying to get Rhapsody-to-go to work with my supposedly supported mp3 player. Burning CDs never seems to work like it should, there's always some problem, whether it be authorizing my computer, getting the files to download, whatever.
So here's the deal:
Somebody (Google, I'm looking at you), develop a web-based site that allows me to listen to every song ever recorded over the Internet for $9.99 per month. I say web-based because I don't want to install any funky software or anything, especially because I know that software will only run on windows. Just allow me to queue up the URLs of MP3 files in my MP3 player of choice (such as winamp, xmms, etc., like you can do now on the Live Music Archive. I'm sure you can figure out some way of authenticating my account when I hit the mp3 URLs (cookies?). Then, let me purchase the songs on an individual basis or the whole album. Make sure to keep the prices competitive to. Remember, I can buy a lot of used CDs from amazon.com and probably a whole bunch of other sites for $5-$7 per CD. I can rip those songs to MP3 and then donate the CD to the library. The songs should be available in a variety of formats, my number 1 choice being 128kbps MP3s, but flac and ogg would probably be a good idea too. Whatever the formats you have, make sure they are all DRM-free.
That's it. Once you've got that, goodbye rhapsody, hello gmusic. Drop the whole concept of music-to-go. If I want to listen to music on my MP3 player, I'll buy the songs in regular MP3 format and transfer them, especially if I can just download the 128kbps MP3s with one-click (skipping the painful, download > Burn CD > rip to MP3 process necessary with Rhapsody now). This should be a lot easier on you, not having to try to support some weird DRM format on a gazillion different MP3 players, only to find out that Jon Johansen has cracked your DRM format 3 months after you release it. I'm a legitimate music consumer willing to pay for non-DRM music and not instantly upload all those songs to Kazaa or whatever the virsus-ridden, P2P network is the most popular these days. So that's my $.02, I'm off to livephish.com to get the GRAB show.