Good-Bye Napster, Hello Rhapsody?
Is Any Change Ever For the Better?
If you were a Napster subscriber, you received the email warning that they were being subsumed by Rhapsody. By instinct I knew the transition wasn't going to be as simple and seamless as promised ... and I was right.
I figured there were going to be a few snags, a few disappointments, but I wasn't prepared for what a shoddy job Rhapsody had done to prepare for the thousands of potential Napster subscribers.
Transferees have the option of trying out Rhapsody for free for 7 days or subscribing at $5 for three months (before it converts to $9.95). The $9.95 is around what Napster charged, so no one has to feel locked into the big switch. I opted for the $5 introductory charge. Anyone should be able to figure out whether Rhapsody is for them within three months.
Immediately Apparent Problems
Once you've signed up for Rhapsody via the email link, and actually enter the portal, you may be in for a surprise. While Napster/Rhapsody promised to import our playlists, they did not emphasize the number of tracks that Rhapsody could NOT duplicate. Maybe if your playlist consists of recent pop material, you will not see many shortcomings or screw-ups. But, if you are into folk, classical and fusion, you are not going to be real happy. Not only does Rhapsody seem to have a significantly smaller library than Napster but the playlist you created is now arranged by CD, and the tracks are thereafter listed alphabetically. The manipulation of playlists is nowhere near as simple as with Napster. You cannot drag and drop tracks into your playlist folders. Basically, all you can do is create a new playlist. If there is a way to merge playlists, I haven't figured it out.
Other Not-So-Happy Surprises
Without any warning my password for entering the portal stopped working. I tried calling Rhapsody's technicians, but gave up after 50 minutes of listening to some awful piece of music for the duration. You'd think that a music company would have people in the queue listening to a neutral radio station for some variety, but no. Rhapsody also offers "live chat," but you have to wait about 15-20 minutes for that to become active as well. The tech rep I got "seemed" to understand my problem and said she issued me a new password, as mentioned in the dialogue. What choice did I have but to take her word for it that the problem was solved. I should have kept her on hold because I tried the new password, and it didn't get me anywhere.
I finally tried signing up again from scratch. I got through the front gate and immediately checked my Account Status, which revealed that I was signed up for Rhapsody Pro at $9.95 per month. Is this really what will be charged to my credit card? Only my monthly statement will tell me for sure.
Thus, my transferee friends, be prepared for the worst. Maybe your sign-up process will be a breeze. Mine wasn't but there is little rhyme or reason here. My initial reaction to Rhapsody is so negative that I may not last the three months. I had been a subscriber with Napster for years, never felt entirely satisfied with their method of making select tracks on a CD unavailable, and I never felt their library of classical music was very impressive. But, my first reaction to Rhapsody is that they are even worse.
The solution for me may be to just buy one CD per month via Amazon. I can always rip the tracks into any number of utilities to create my own playlists. This is making more and more sense as I contemplate the eventual $9.95 per month x 12 months for just renting a fairly small selection of tracks that I listen to repeatedly.