Rhapsody, the American digital music download service, has opened its doors to unprotected mp3 downloads on a pay-per download model. The move is likely a bid to help improve the service’s popularity, and comes hot on the heels of a number of other services taking the same decision. The Amazon music service and Napster both offer mp3 downloads without copy restrictions and using the download payment model.
Rhapsody had previously used a monthly subscription service that enabled users to download as many tracks (or as few) as they liked for between $13 and $15 per month. The new service, which includes the popular mp3 format, will be priced at the equivalent of 50p per song or £5 per album.
According to the BBC report, music downloads form a major part of the UK music scene, with 85% of the top 20 single sales coming from download services. Download income is equivalent to around 8.6% of the total income generated by the industry.
Rhapsody includes tracks from all of the major labels and is co-owned by Real and MTV. While not as popular as other services such as iTunes and Napster, this move may help to increase its user base because it certainly has the network available to help market it.