Real Opens Web-Based Rhapsody

RealNetworks said Monday that it planned to offer a Web-based version of its Rhapsody subscription music service, opening up the service to Mac and Linux users. It also answers a growing call by consumers for services that can work anywhere regardless of location.

No desktop application aside from a Web browser will be required to access Rhapsody via the Web, the company said. A beta version of the service will be made available on Monday.

Users will only be able to stream music to their computers; downloading songs would still require the Rhapsody desktop application. The service will allow users to listen to 25 songs for free, or an unlimited number with a paid subscription.

Even if the vast majority of users only listen to the free songs, Real says it won't mind. With the Web advertising market coming back strong, the company still expects to make up for the lost revenue by selling ads on the service's Web pages.

Aiding with promotion, Rhapsody will let webmasters allow their users to listen to songs from a particular artist from a non-Real site. At first, sites will only be able to link into Rhapsody, but the company hopes to expand those options during the first half of 2006.

Microsoft will also help Real promote the new Web-based Rhapsody through Windows Media Player and across its MSN properties. The joint marketing is part of the two companies' $761 million antitrust settlement announced in October.

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