US-based subscription music platform Rhapsody announced it had passed the 800,000 subscriber mark at the start of the week, having added 150,000 subscribers since the service was spun off from RealNetworks to become a stand-alone company last year.
Many have noted the timing of Rhapsody’s announcement of record user figures, coming, as it does, in the week many expect Europe’s Spotify to finally enter the US market providing a high profile competitor to one of America’s longest standing digital music services.
Given Rhapsody’s ten years in business, and all the free promotion the service gets from shareholder MTV, while the 800,000 figure is impressive, it does put into perspective those bold ambitions it was recently claimed Spotify have for their American service. One albeit unverified rumour said a Spotify exec had predicted a user base of up to 50 million. Of course, Spotify will offer an albeit limited-play free version of its service, which Rhapdosy does not, and is presumably hoping its rumoured tie up with Facebook will help deliver big audiences. Though time will tell, I guess.
In related news, that other big American streaming music service – the more limited in terms of functionality, Pandora – is also about to get a new competitor. US radio giant Clear Channel is reportedly planning a revamp of its iHeartRadio website and will add a Pandora-style personalised radio service into the mix, utilising technology it acquired in March by buying digital firm Thumbplay. The stepped up iHeartRadio is expected to go live in September.