Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Guilt-Free Music Streaming

For a change, there's good news about digital music streaming.

Guilt-Free Music Streaming

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Now on your smart TV: Rhapsody has it all.

 

For a change, there’s good news  about digital music streaming.

Illegal downloading is not as rampant as suspected – at least in the U.S.

 Digital music sales are on the rise.

 And the veteran  subscription music service Rhapsody is now  making it so easy (and cheap) to stream content from your “easy chair,”   signing up has  practically become a “no brainer.”

New research from the British-based online tracking service musicmetric found that Americans purchased downloads of  150.5 million albums in the first half of 2012  – TWICE what music lovers downloaded illegally (75.5 million)  from BitTorrent. The  music industry’s future looks even brighter when comparing paid and purloined singles.  Americans bought  33 times as many songs (698 million) as they pirated (just 21.1 million) in the same period.

In a separate report from  Nielsen, word  has it  that digital music sales in the U.S. are up 15 percent from the same period (through August)  last year, with purchases of one BILLION tracks.  The total number for all of 2011 was 1.3 billion. This bump-up is credited to the still skyrocketing  sales and daily use of  devices  like smart phones  and tablets. And to musicians/labels’  increasing savvy  in marketing  to  the on-line and mobile community.

Rhapsodic Waves:  Getting their application on every device known to man has always been at the strategic heart  of  the internet accessed, subscription music service  Rhapsody. (Ditto for the free music streaming service Pandora.) This week, Rhapsody launched apps so that users of internet connected LG, Panasonic and Samsung Smart TVs can turn on and tune in to exactly the music you want to hear on your  TV set and (hopefully)  companion sound system.

Checked out on my Panasonic Viera GT50  set,  the  maximized for high definition Rhapsody  menu/interface  is a work of beauty and simplicity, easy to navigate with the TV remote. 

 Tap into the “new releases” section and up pops literally dozens of choices – from the likes of Miguel, Three Days Gone, Diana Krall, Tori Amos, Papa Roach, DJ Drama, Faith Evans and Brad Paisley. Tap on an album art image and  just six seconds later the music starts playing – not just a couple tracks per hour from the artist (as Pandora limits) but the whole album if you want.

 Skipping through the album’s tracks and making playlists is a snap, too.  A bit of biographical info about the artist pops up automatically.  Just another button push takes you to other albums and tracks from the same artist stored in Rhapsody’s super deep catalogue. 

 Dazzled by Ms. Amos’ new “Gold Dust” set, I then went browsing   more than 50 other albums by the piano pop chanteuse, including many complete concert recordings (who knew?) captured  during her 2007 “Legs & Boots” tour.

Rhapsody actively promotes  a $9.99-per-month  service that includes access on a PC, streaming devices like Sonos plus  one mobile device like an Apple iPhone or Android  phone on which  you can also download and store complete albums.  The content stays put as long as you keep up the monthly  payment.

 A  bump up to Rhapsody’s $14.99  “Premium”  service increases the number of connectible computers and mobile devices to three each.

 Barely promoted is the $4.99 a month ultra-basic Rhapsody service that works on just one PC.

 But grab this – Rhapsody’s new  smart TV-based , all-you-can-eat music app is ready to load and use  at no extra charge with all three  subscription tiers.  

Just $60 a year for unlimited access to a world of music – all from your favorite easy chair? Can’t beat it with a stick.

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
About this blog
Jonathan Takiff covers all manner of high tech gadgets – and the entertaining stuff you play on them – for the Philadelphia Daily News, philly.com and the McClatchy Tribune News Service. Reach Jonathan at takiffj@phillynews.com.

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
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