The Ultimate Music Streaming Service Battle: Rhapsody vs. Spotify

Music streaming services have become incredibly popular as they offer consumers a huge variety of music choices, excellent convenience and a very affordable and sometimes even free entertainment option. Several years ago, there were only a couple of big players in the music streaming business that offered high-quality services with a large library of music. However, now, there are more than a few providers that compete for the top spot in the industry and their offerings are highly competitive. Rhapsody and Spotify are certainly among the best providers available, but who is the best? Let’s have a closer look and find out more about both of these music streaming services. Rhapsody vs. Spotify. Which one comes out on top?

Overview Rhapsody & Spotify

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Rhapsody is one of the more established providers in the market and has 800,000 subscribers that pay a fee to avail of Rhapsody’s service, although the service is only available in the United States. They have stood the test of time with over fifteen years of success but the newcomer, Spotify, is giving everyone a run for their money. Spotify offers their services on a global basis and claims to have over 1.5 million paying customers as well as over twelve million monthly users.

Compatibility

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With so many different devices and operating systems on the market, compatibility is always an important factor when choosing a streaming music service. Both of these service providers offer a wide range of choice in compatible devices, however, there are some slight differences.

Spotify is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Blackberry devices on the web or via a device-specific app. Additionally, the service is available on several Wi-Fi systems such as the Philips Streamium and the Squeezebox Touch by Logitech. Rhapsody matches the versatility of Spotify and is available on all the same devices except they take things a step further as well. Rhapsody can be used on a large selection of MP3 players such as the Sansa Clip and the Philips GoGear. Spotify is compatible with some of the most popular MP3 players but does not extend its compatibility quite as far as Rhapsody.

Using Rhapsody and Spotify

Via the Web

The web applications of both services are fairly easy to use but Spotify does offer the ability for users to link their Facebook account to their account and share favorite music selections with friends, which Rhapsody a form of as well. Each streaming service offers a premium accounts which come with a monthly charge or free accounts that have limitations and are supported by advertisements. One key difference is Spotify allows you to remain a free member for an unlimited amount of time while Rhapsody limits their free service to a 14-day trial period that allows you to try the service before subscribing to a paid membership.

Many of the features of the web applications are similar and both are relatively intuitive as well as easy to use. However, Rhapsody does offer a larger amount of artist metadata and makes it a little easier to find new music that you have never heard before but might find appealing.

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Via Mobile Apps

Spotify’s mobile application is an extension of the web-based application but it does not include quite all of the same functionality and using the search function can take a long time. While the mobile app is functional and easy to use it does not offer a related artist tab or many other features that make it easy to find new music so it does tend to be a bit limited. It does offer an offline mode that can allow you to download music from more than one device but each account is limited to only a single person.

Rhapsody’s app is better than Spotify’s in several ways. The app is much more responsive, it searches and provides results quickly as well as allows you to discover new music. Almost all functions that are provided in the web application are present in the mobile app and it provides an almost seamless transition when changing from one device to another with different applications available.

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Music Selection

Rhapsody has fewer total songs available but they partner with MTV to provide users with a large selection of brand new music before it is even available for sale. Their catalog includes just over thirteen million songs with Spotify’s coming in at over fifteen million. However, Spotify is missing music from Metallica, Led Zeppelin and other top artists due to licensing agreement issues. Some of the music is available by United Kingdom only releases or other forms that can be found on Spotify but it is still much more limited than Rhapsody with MTV as their partner.

Social Media

Spotify offers a wide range of social media interaction with the ability to display what you are listening to, your favorite artists and share playlists with friends. Rhapsody offers social media integration as well but it is not at the same depth and is limited in functionality. For the most part, you are limited to sharing playlists via Facebook with Rhapsody, giving Spotify a clear advantage in the social media category.

Account Types

The Good

As stated above, both services offer free and paid accounts in one form or another. Rhapsody offers an MP3 store which is also digital rights management free so the songs or albums you buy can be easily transferred to CDs or other devices. Typically, tracks sell for just under one dollar and complete albums list for under ten dollars. Spotify’s big advantage is they offer a genuine free account with limitations on premium content, but still free.

The Bad

Rhapsody’s premium account comes with a cost of $9.99 per month and their free service is limited to a 14-day trial period. Even with their premium account, their service is limited to a single mobile device and one home device. This is probably enough for most users but in today’s world of technology where many people have several devices, it may become limiting for many as well.

Membership Pricing

Rhapsody’s paid memberships come in two versions, premier and premier plus. The premier membership is $9.99 per month for one device and the premier plus option is offered at $14.99 per month which gives you access from up to three devices. Spotify offers an unlimited service at $4.99 per month and a premium service at $9.99 per month. The step up to premium services offers an advertisement free experience as well as improved audio quality.

Final Thoughts

The competition between these two streaming music providers is an interesting one as both have their advantages and disadvantages. Rhapsody has been around for much longer than Spotify and appears to have a good handle on what an intuitive and easy to use user interface should be. The overall use of their applications is far superior to what Spotify offers, without question. However, they do not offer a middle tier premium service like Spotify’s $4.99 per month option for unlimited and their free service is very limited.

In today’s world with so much content available for free in many different forms price is a big consideration and Spotify clearly offers a better structure compared to Rhapsody. While they may have some challenges with a limited amount of music offering due to licensing issues and their technology is not as user-friendly in some ways, at the end of the day, they offer a bit more bang for your buck. Both services provide a high level of service and value but if you must choose then Spotify edges Rhapsody out by just a bit.

Juan Alexander

Juan is a self-professed sound-nerd and the webmaster / lead author & tester for AllSoundLab. You might literally walk into him on the street because he's tuned out to the world and tuned into his beats...

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