Real launches Rhapsody MP3 store

Real Networks is the latest company to launch a DRM-free MP3 store. To date, Rhapsody had focused on subscription-based services. Rhapsody Vice President Neil Smith explained the shift this way: “We’re no longer competing with the iPod, we’re embracing it,” recognizing that Rhapsody’s incompatibility with the Apple iPod undermined Rhapsody’s ability to compete in the digital music market.

The Rhapsody MP3 store will offer more than 5 million songs from all four major labels and an extensive number of independent labels and offers full song previews prior to purchase (iTunes limits previews to 30 seconds).

Most songs on Rhapsody will sell for USD$0.99 and albums for USD$9.99. It is only available in the U.S. at this time. With the launch, Rhapsody is offering the first 100,000 customers to sign up a free album.

Already competing with the Apple iTunes store are Amazon MP3 and Napster among others.

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