21st-Century Music Consumption

Richard Wattenbarger

I have subscribed to the Rhapsody streaming music service for several years. Rhapsody has provided a wonderful, cost-effective way to become familiar with a lot of music that I didn't necessarily want to purchase.  In the past few months, they have also added "Rhapsody to Go," a service that lets the customer rent tracks and transfer them to MP3 devices equipped with the appropriate Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology.  (Right now, my 1GB iRiver T30 contains a few Frank Zappa albums, Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill, Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine, Comfort Eagle by Cake, and the Lindsays playing the big Schubert G-major quartet.)

Until recently Rhapsody's classical offerings were limited to a handful of old RCA titles, smatterings of the EMI and Warner (that is, Teldec and Elektra/Nonesuch [and, more recently, Erato]) catalogs, a few selections from the recently reissued Vanguard catalog, a sizable chunk of the Naxos catalog, and various and sundry smaller labels.  This situation changed in the past year, however, as Rhapsody brought on board a number of major or prestigous minor classical labels: Universal Classics (Deutsche Grammophon, Philips, and Decca), Sony/BMG, BIS, Teldec, ASV, Hännsler, Harmonia Mundi, and MODE.

Rhapsody is not without its flaws.  Classical releases tend to have far more audio problems than popular ones: pops, clicks, gaps, and the like.  Customer service is so-so.  Still, it's a great bargain.

About Phil Ford

Chairman of the Committee for the Memorial to the Victims of Modernism
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1 Response to 21st-Century Music Consumption

  1. Hi Richard!
    I totally agree with what you are saying about Rhapsody: their classical music section is getting better every day. The only problem I see with it is the bad search interface. For instance, it’s impossible to search for all interpretations of a paricular work, because there is no unique naming system for work titles. The system works well for popular music because song titles will always stay the same. (It’s always “Leaves of Green”, but it might be “Violinkonzert, 1. Satz” or “Violin Concerte: Allegro molto”).
    One more thing: I recommend subscribing to NAXOS in addition to rhapsody. This will cover a lot of the standard classical music repertoire.

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