Apr 13

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

Rhapsody Distributes Their Music

The other week I sat down with Leo Dirac of Rhapsody Webservices and he told me a bit about their upcoming plans. They want to be the music listening platform of choice for site-owners. Yesterday, they made a significant step towards this vision when Rhapsody (Real's subscription service) enabled anonymous users to listen to whole albums on demand for free with links from third-party sites.

The RESTful links used to enable this are very easy to read and write. The format, (example: is simple to construct on the fly (paving the way for a multitude of Greasemonkey scripts and on-demand bookmarklets). When a user clicks on the link an ActiveX control or Firefox plugin is called and whole songs from that artist or album (new with this release) will start playing - for free. Anonymous users get 25 full song plays a month, any number beyond that degrades to the industry-standard 30sec clips; existing Rhapsody users get unlimited plays. Besides the download, the other unfortunate aspect of this implementation is that you are redirected away from the originating site to the associated album page on Real.

There are no direct monetization plans behind this right now (read: no ads). It is purely a developer/site-owner outreach play right now. They feel they have both a technological and licensing advantage (they believe themselves to be the only ones with the license to play full songs on demand for free). If they become the music platform for the web then they will inevitably increase their subscription rate.

As you can see on ProgrammableWeb there aren't any other APIs like this. Most of the available music APIs involve search or interfacing with that service's player. I could see this being an upside for Real (as long as the economics hold). I doubt Apple will build a competing feature set; they have their closed, profitable eco-system and no subscription service. It's Yahoo that I see in their rearview mirror; if they have the licensing then I'll bet that they have the will to build a competing service.

Real has had trust issues with their software in the past. Users must be able to install and uninstall their software at will. Will they be able to get users to install the plug-in and site-owners to use their service? Probably, but only if Real is able to overcome this issue. Once their plugins are widely installed on the majority of browsers then it will be come a no-brainer for site-owners and bloggers to use their service. Especially once they add direct, RESTful song links then anyone can easily become an MP3 blogger.

tags: specialized services  | comments: 12   | Sphere It

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Comments: 12

  Andrew [04.13.06 03:31 PM]

Are there any restrictions on where the users can be? I believe that most RhapStuff is available only in the USA. If I include these restfull rhaplinks in a blog post, will readers from the UK, China, or wherever be able to hear the music?

  Rob [04.13.06 03:51 PM]

You also do not need to be a ite-owner to do this. Paste the ur into your browser and you are good to go as a non-Rhapsody subscriber with 25 free plays.

Also, there is an ad at the bootom of the player (at least when I did the above).

  Leo Parker Dirac [04.13.06 04:40 PM]

Rhapsody is currently only available in the US. Visitors from outside the US are blocked when they try to listen to music. Due to licensing restrictions that's about all we can do right now. (I work on

  Tim Stoop [04.14.06 12:57 AM]

U.S. Only
We're sorry. We have detected that you are outside of the United States. This service is currently only available to residents within the United States.

For music and entertainment services available in your country please click here.

Too bad :(

  Captain Sack [04.14.06 08:25 AM] giving away free music is like a registered sex offender giving away free candy.

  Anon [05.01.06 06:09 PM]

So, what about us US residents that travel frequently out of the country? And are too cheap to buy the full player? Or is even that not an option?

  Leo Parker Dirac [05.10.06 12:20 AM]

The devices have no way to know what part of the world they're in unless they're plugged into a PC with an IP address. So when you're traveling I'm pretty sure your music is safe so long as you don't try to add more. If you do, I'm not sure what will happen -- I'm not a DRM expert. It might see that you're outside the US and blow away all your licenses for all I know.

  Andy Martin [07.26.06 09:21 AM]

Rhapsody does work outside the US. I'm living in London after moving back from NJ several months ago. The Rhapsody account I created while over in the States (with a US debit card) still works like a champ. My assumption is that it's all about where your bank account, credit or debit card registered addresses are.

  Adam Clark [10.14.06 07:51 AM]

When I am in Brazil (I travel often from the US to Brazil) I cannot use Rhapsody. So I just cancelled it.

  anon [10.22.06 07:36 AM]

ummmm you can get around it easy just use a US proxy and it will think your in the US, simple.

  Dan [09.23.07 07:24 AM]

And that will disintegrate high speed internet connection because it's over proxy, good thinking... :/

  XX [08.30.08 09:25 AM]

Ah well no wonder people are still downloading by torrent. About time Rhapsody and others realised that the Internet is international, NOT just the US.

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