updated 07:20 am EDT, Mon June 30, 2008
Real Rhapsody MP3 Store
Real this morning opened a test version of the Rhapsody MP3 Store, its first store to go without copy protected files. The MTV co-owned outlet is web-based and, unlike the company's subscription service, promises to work with any computer or device, including iPods; a Mac download manager is available to let users download all their songs as a complete package, Real says. The company has also successfully secured the catalogs of all four major music labels.
The Real store promises a slight edge on rival stores from Amazon and Napster with full-length previews: non-subscribers can preview as many as 25 complete songs, while existing Rhapsody members can sample any song they like. Real's connection to MTV also gives it access to exclusives from MTV as well as CMT and VH1. Facebook users will also have quick access to songs and will have the option of buying songs directly through the iLike app without having to follow a link.
Unlike Amazon, however, Real won't offer re-downloads for lost songs.
Track pricing is identical to Napster and most other a la carte download stores, with individual songs costing 99 cents and full albums typically priced at $10. Windows-only subscriptions will remain in place and cost $13 per month for PCs alone or $15 for those who also want device transfers to Rhapsody-compatible devices.
The granting of DRM-free music from all major labels represents a further step in what's commonly understood to be an attempt to isolate Apple and dictate iTunes pricing by offering unprotected songs to all but Apple, which is still limited to offering unguarded tracks through EMI and a number of independents. Universal and other labels have pressured Apple to allow flexible pricing above 99 cents while frequently giving stores such as Amazon the ability similar or better deals than what iTunes offers.