Rhapsody International leaps to 1.7-million subscribers

Rhapsody canvas 160Representing a 63 percent jump in the last year, music service Rhapsody now counts 1.7-million subscribers. Rhapsody International operates both the Rhapsody and Napster streaming-music brands in North America, Europe, and South America.

According to the Associate Press, the sharpest gains have resulted from Rhapsody’s distribution deal with telecom giant Telefonica, which bundles the Napster service into its phone plans in Latin America. Telecom bundling is not unusual; European service Deezer has partnered in that way, and is search for a U.S. launch partner before extending its service to the U.S. market. Beats Music, which started early this year, is incorporated into AT&T’s cell-phone service plans.

The advantages of telecom bundling, in a music-service field that is bristling with consumer choice, lie in distribution access and price. Mobile phone companies already own credit card information of their users, and can streamline the decision to subscribe to music. Further, in some cases such as Beats Music, price discounts can tempt cell-service subscribers to add on cheap music access in a “feels free” manner.

Rhapsody is the grandfather of U.S.-based music services, having started in 2001, long before Spotify sparked migration from downloads to streaming in 2011. Rhapsody is a subscription-only platform; there is no ad-supported free-listening component, as Spotify, Rdio, and others have.

Brad Hill