Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Rhapsody Beats Spotify to the Punch. But Will You Pay $15 a Month for an iPhone Music App?

rhapsody appOkay, all you Spotify coveters who say you can’t wait to get the much hyped app on your iPhone, here’s your chance: Pony up $15 a month and you can get Rhapsody’s app, which does exactly the same thing.

Apple (AAPL) gave Spotify the go-ahead for its streaming-music iPhone app last month. But the service doesn’t have deals to distribute music in the U.S. yet. RealNetworks’s (RNWK) Rhapsody, however, does have deals, and its app just got Apple’s nod.

So. If you want on-demand access to nearly any song you want, it’s all yours: You’re just going to need to pay Real $14.99 a month for its “Rhapsody-to-Go” subscription service.

What’s that? You like the idea of getting all the music you can eat on your iPhone, without listening to ads, but you don’t want to pay for it? Alas, no dice. Spotify mobile users in Europe are paying, too–about $16 a month–and if and when the service gets distribution in the U.S., you can expect to pay about the same.

So will anyone pay for either app? Good question. Best Buy’s (BBY) Napster says that the pricing level is too high and that it won’t offer a music app until it can get the labels to charge less for their music, adding that it thinks $5 a month is a reasonable charge.

And up until now, Rhapsody hasn’t had a whole lot of luck with its “to go” subscription pricing. But! Up until now, Rhapsody wouldn’t work with Apple’s iPod, which has made it a very, very hard sell. Now it has a very large base to sell against.

Will that make a difference? We’re about to find out.

Here’s a video that previews the app.

Rhapsody on iPhone from Rhapsody on Vimeo.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work