Rhapsody America, the Web's top subscription-based music service, plans to open a digital download store today, becoming the latest company to challenge the dominance of Apple Inc.'s iTunes.
Like other recent challengers -- and unlike iTunes -- the Rhapsody MP3 store will feature songs that aren't constrained by anti-copying measures. The four major record labels will provide Rhapsody such songs, which work on any digital music player and can be copied an unlimited number of times. Apple has such music from only one major label.
The store from Rhapsody America, a joint venture of RealNetworks Inc. and Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks, offers another indication that the music industry, in its struggle with Apple over the pricing of music, is cultivating a new breed of Apple competitor.
Rhapsody plans to charge 99 cents for a single and $9.99 for an album, the same pricing as on iTunes.
One of Rhapsody's selling points, however, is that customers will be able to listen to an entire song before purchasing it. ITunes gives customers a 30-second sample.
To promote the launch, Rhapsody is offering a free album to each of the first 100,000 people to create accounts before Friday.
If you're a music lover, then this is one freebie you don't want to miss. Rhapsody's music store is chock-full of goodies. I already have my wish list planned. But you do know the problem with buying songs for 99 cents each right? It can quickly add up if you're a music junkie like me.