It seems like years since Spotify first discussed plans to come to the U.S. Now, word is that the highly-touted European music subscription service is set to arrive on American shores some time this week. But Rhapsody doesn’t want you to forget a home-grown service that’s been kicking it in the U.S. for more than a decade.
Today, Rhapsody — which officially split off from RealNetworks last year — said that it has surpassed more than 800,000 subscribers.
“Consumers are more enthusiastic than ever about on-demand music,” said Jon Irwin, president, Rhapsody, in a statement. “The fact that we have added more than 150,000 members since becoming an independent company in April, 2010–a number that we believe exceeds the lifetime total of all new U.S. competitors combined–speaks volumes about the strength of the Rhapsody service and the value it brings to our members.”
One has to wonder if the press release is a pre-emptive strike by Rhapsody. After all, Spotify has a slightly different business model than Rhapsody, one which offers free music streaming of selected tracks for up to 10 hours per month. (After that, customers must cough up some coin, roughly about $7 per month for unlimited access and $14 per month for mobile access).
Rhapsody, on the other hand, charges $10 per month for its base service.
Back in April, GeekWire’s Todd Bishop caught up with Rhapsody’s Irwin and asked him directly about the coming launch of Spotify.
“Obviously they’ve had challenges predicting an entry date, and executing on an entry date, and getting the label agreements in place,” Irwin said.
In today’s release, Irwin took another indirect shot at Spotify when he said “we believe the freemium model is not sustainable at current content cost structures.” He continued:
“Companies with tremendous resources have come and gone, but Rhapsody’s focus on building long-term value is what has set us apart and contributed to our longevity. Consumers love the ability to listen to any song, as often as they like, in any order, anywhere on any device. The more they embrace a true on-demand experience, the more they will become aware of the shackles of free music services.”
Last month, All Things D reported that Spotify raised $100 million from top venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins and Accel, rumored to be in the range of a $1 billion valuation.
At that valuation, one has to wonder how fast the VCs think it will take Spotify to blow past Rhapsody’s 800,000 subscriber base.
Previously on GeekWire: “Q&A: Rhapsody rebounding after RealNetworks spinoff”