Rhapsody is about to become the first paid music streaming service provider that offers whole-track playback capabilities directly through a tweet. This means that once a Rhapsody user shares a song via Twitter, followers on Twitter can listen to the full track natively in Twitter, regardless of whether those followers are subscribing to Rhapsody or not. Plus, the artist gets paid for the stream.
Discovering new music has always had a social ring to it. Decades ago, when people wanted to share music they discovered or created, they make mixtapes and CDs and give them away to their friends. It is still essentially the same thing right now, but instead of tapes and CDs, we share links, samples, and music videos through social media.
But one of the most common obstacles of the process of discovering music today has always been the thorny topic of ownership. It is easy to share music these days, but the question is: are you allowed to share that particular song, especially to a friend of yours who is not subscribed to your music streaming service provider? Even musical artists grapple with the question of promoting their music to as many people as possible even if it's free vs getting paid every time their music gets played or shared.
That is why Rhapsody's latest move is so interesting -- even if you are not subscribed to its service, you can get to listen to its catalog of songs as long as you follow a Rhapsody user who shares those songs on Twitter (it should be noted that full track playback in Twitter works only in the United States for now). For those not in the know, a subscription in Rhapsody costs $9.99 per month, giving access to 32 million songs. Its more limited UnRadio service costs $4.99 per month.
This is not actually the first time that a music streaming service provider collaborated with Twitter. Back in October of last year, Twitter launched audio cards that facilitate native playback of audio content. In kicking off the feature, Apple made use of these audio cards to allow musicians to tweet a preview of a song as well as a link to iTunes so that listeners could buy the track. Also, SoundCloud also began to let its music content creators to share audio content in their followers' timelines.
Rhapsody's case though is unique because it is the first time that a paid subscription music streaming service provider has allowed full track sharing via Twitter. The tracks are fully licensed, which means that even if non-subscribers listen to the tracks through Twitter, the musical artists (and their recording labels) still get paid royalties.
The next question now is: will this last? Barring any violent reaction from artists and labels, Rhapsody is hoping that it will continue, and more importantly for the music streaming service provider, help bring in more new subscribers to its fold.
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