As promised, Seattle-based on-demand music service Rhapsody launched its Xbox Live app today. The service is available for current Rhapsody subscribers and Xbox Live Gold members.
“Many families will be gathering around their Xbox this holiday season, and this year, Rhapsody can provide the soundtrack to those memories,” vice president of business development Brian McGarvey said in a press release. “People talk about social music as something that happens online, but there’s no better place to share music than with family and friends at home, especially this time of year.”
The app integrates voice commands and gestures with the Kinect. It’s also been designed to match the Xbox user interface and looks quite similar to the Xbox Music app.
I played with the app this morning. After downloading it, I was given an activation code to be entered online. I had to create a Rhapsody account and enter my credit card info for a 30-day trial. Access on Xbox Live is included as part of Rhapsody’s existing $9.99/month and $14.99/month plans, without counting against device limits.
Immediately after entering my Xbox code, the app appeared on my television. The interface was nice, the app was fast and I liked the radio aspect. However, I couldn’t rewind or fast forward through songs. Also, I missed having full-screen artwork of the musicians appear during the song, as it does with Xbox Music. All in all, this was basically Xbox Music with a different name.
The Seattle-based company sees the bulk of usage on smartphones — through Rhapsody apps for iPhone and Android — but execs say they wanted to provide users more places to listen to music.
“For us, when we think about TVs in the home, it’s really about an extension of that experience, not necessarily a replacement,” Paul Springer, Rhapsody’s senior vice president of product and design, said in October. “Mobile and handsets, Android and iOS, continue to dominate usage, but our best customers want their music everywhere.”
In December of last year, Rhapsody said it had topped 1 million subscribers for the first time in its history, leveraging its MetroPCS partnership and its acquisition of the Napster music service from Best Buy.
Rhapsody is an independent, privately held company, based in downtown Seattle, following its 2010 spinoff from RealNetworks. However, RealNetworks retains a large stake in Rhapsody and reports Rhapsody’s financial results as part of its quarterly regulatory filings.
Previously on GeekWire: Apple rumored to be considering a new ad-based music service