It makes sense. Put the new model where the old model lives. Try to bring in a new audience that might not have sampled competing services yet.
That’s what Rhapsody’s just-announced partnership with Best Buy is attempting. Anyone buying a (qualified) CD from Best Buy’s racks will be gifted with a month of Rhapsody’s subscription-only online listening/collecting platform. It’s a nice surprise for the buyer, and a bit of incentive that Best Buy can promote on its CD shelves. Rhapsody’s play is to drive a wedge into the CD consumers’ buying habits, introduce them to an access model that might be entirely new to them, and convert ‘em. In that context, Rhapsody and Best Buy are at cross-purposes.
Rhapsody competes most directly with the laboriously-named Google Play Music All Access, which likewise provides subscription-only service, with a cloud-storage component Rhapsody lacks. Among indies, Rhapsody is most often compared to Spotify and Rdio, both of which, in addition to offering premium subscriptions to avoid ads and enable downloads, provide a layer of free listening.
In recent months Rhapsody has suffered a management shake-up and sweeping staff layoff. Last week Rhapsody announced an international telecom partnership with Telefonica, for international distribution of its service in Europe and Latin America. (RAIN coverage here.)