Sunday, March 22, 2009

The best $15 I spend each month...

My last post was about something I dislike a lot: Twitter-love. This time, I'm going to talk about something I like for a change, and it is something that most of the pundits have written off as dead. It's clear that I don't line up with said pundits, since I consider the $15 I get charged each month (actually, it's really $13 and change...) to be the best money I spend.

This thing is Rhapsody, the music subscription service.

Steve Jobs has declared the subscription model to be idiotic, while almost every "wired" reporter has pointed out that iTunes proves the pointlessness of any other service on the net. I'm not sure about 14 year-old girls, goatee-toting hipsters or people with unlimited wads of cash, but it works for me. Let me tell you why...

My life is surrounded with music: I work for a music software company, am a journalist covering music and recording techniques, performing and recording artist and recording engineer. I live and breath music and music-making. In addition to doing this stuff, I also spend a lot of time reading and talking about music. Often (and by often, I mean daily), a musical group or genre will come up in conversation, or in a book or magazine, and either I've never heard or can't easily recall.

I could just assume that I know what this sounds like and forget about it, or I could track down the music. It's just not that easy to track it down - especially if you don't want to spend $0.99 everytime someone remembers to burp out a recollection of some band's output. By spending the money on a Rhapsody subscription, I now have unlimited access to everything they have available - and it's a pretty impressive stack.

Some examples:

- I was reading an forum post about engineer Phill Brown, and his work on the Talk Talk album "Laughing Stock". I had a good friend that was a huge Talk Talk fan, and I remember listening to a lot of them - but a long time ago. Popping into Rhapsody had me enjoying this amazing gem of an album in 10 seconds flat.

- Listening to Gregory Taylor's RTQE radio show, I was reminded of an old obsession with Jon Hassell. I needed a fix, and my vinyl collection had been destroyed (in a horrible accident which I will recall sometime later) a long time ago. Checking in with Rhapsody, I found 13 of his 19 albums were available, giving me access to 76 tracks. Hassell marathon!

- I was wondering what my friend Matthew Curry (Safety Scissors) was up to. Since most of his work is on teeny-tiny labels, I was wondering if there would be anything on Rhapsody at all. Checking it out provided only a few tracks (but it did let me listen to his Fridgelife work), but jumping over to the Minimal/Glitch genre listen gave me a re-introduction to Oval's work, and a chance to listen to Thom Yorke' "The Eraser" solo work. I'd heard he did a release, but had never checked it out.

I, like almost everyone else, have the tendency to park myself on a favorite CD or iPod artist and leave it honking for weeks on end. Rhapsody allows me to track trends, catch up with past interests and lend an ear to new artists. Is that worth $15 a month?

Hell, yeah.


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