Rhapsody, the Seattle-based subscription music service, is making a new push into the world of Internet radio — offering a $4.99/month ad-free service called unRadio with features including unlimited skipping, offline playback and the ability to save up to 25 favorite tracks to listen back on-demand.
The service, unveiled last night, gives users some control over their listening experience, filling the gap between free Internet radio services and full-fledged music subscriptions. A Rhapsody Premier subscription, with full control of a library of more than 30 million songs, costs twice as much, at $9.99/month.
Rhapsody’s new unRadio service will compete against established offerings such as Pandora One, but the Seattle company is getting help from T-Mobile as part of the wireless carrier’s own efforts to cater to digital music fans on its network. T-Mobile customers on unlimited data plans will get the Rhapsody unRadio service for free, and customers on other T-Mobile plans will be able to subscribe for $4/month.
The unRadio service will be available on Android, iOS and the web. Paul Springer, Rhapsody International’s chief product officer, said the company may also consider a Windows Phone app for the service, depending on demand.
T-Mobile separately announced that it will allow all of its customers to stream music from selected over their mobile broadband connections without counting against their data streaming limits. In an interview, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said the company believes it has addressed the mobile streaming in a better way than its competitors have.
“The traffic for streaming on our network is up six-fold in a couple of years,” he said. “You can tell by the buzz of what these guys are all doing — what AT&T did with Beats, and what Sprint did with Spotify — that it’s a big topic, but they just don’t have it right. They’ve been thinking more about themselves and how to maximize this streaming growth than thinking about what it means to their customers.”
Apart from being based in the same city, Rhapsody had an existing connection to T-Mobile based on Rhapsody’s existing music partnership with MetroPCS, which was acquired by T-Mobile last year.
Rhapsody was spun out of RealNetworks in 2010, but RealNetworks remains an investor in the music service. Rob Glaser, the RealNetworks founder, said at the event last night that he’s impressed with what Legere and T-Mobile are doing, not only with the new music service, but in general.
“They’re really thinking about these pain points, and solving these pain points,” Glaser said. “Because they’re the number 4 player in the industry, they can operate in a different way, and change the dynamic.”