Rhapsody International, whom you may remember as the parent of such hits as Rhapsody and Napster (via purchase), announced on Wednesday its own entry into the ever-more crowded streaming music market. The company's service is called unRadio, it was launched at a T-Mobile media event, and no one will care.
"Today marks another important milestone in Rhapsody’s 13-year history of pioneering new ways for music fans to find, discover and experience music," Paul Springer, Senior Vice President of the Americas and Chief Product Officer of Rhapsody International, apparently oblivious to what the word "pioneering" means.
"Finally," he added, equally unfamiliar with that word's proper usage, "music lovers can get what they’ve been asking for from Internet radio: music inspiration without music interruption."
There are more streaming music services than you can shake a stick at, including Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, rdio, Amazon Music, Beats Music, iTunes Radio, and whatever Google's service is called. Unradio is traveling no new roads, is late-ish to market, and its biggest claim to fame appears to be that it borrows a few features from several of its competitors.
The service is ad free, just like all of the other paid services, and is priced at US$4.99 per month. T-Mobile customers with unlimited data plans can get unRadio for free, while other T-Mobile customer can get it for $4 per month. Note the connection to T-Mobile's "Uncarrier" marketing plan.
unRadio also allows users to mark songs as "favorites" for later playback, or download them later for playback without an Internet connection. Downloaded songs are not owned by the user, merely stored and available through unRadio.
Users can also design their own stations or listen to unRadio's, and the service also provides access to streaming terrestrial and Internet radio stations. Rhapsody said that it has 32 million songs behind it, far more than most competitors. Amazon Music, for instance, launched with just 1 million songs.
The best thing I can say about it is that the interface looks great, and Rhapsody developed dedicated apps for iPhone and iPad with interfaces designed to take full advantage of both form factors. There are also apps for Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Ford Sync, and "MP3 Players," whatever that means, right out of the gate. That's smart.
Even still, the chances that unRadio will be able to take significant share in this market is slim to none. I doubt it will be able to beat even Amazon's gimpy service.
It's not that I blame Rhapsody for trying to rebrand its service—Rhapsody was doing music rentals even before the iTunes Store launched—but it's just such a me-too service. Partnering with T-Mobile might provide a boost, but T-Mobile is in the process of being bought by Sprint. What then?