Yahoo! vs. Rhapsody & Napster

Readers of this blog know that I love Rhapsody.

I honestly have never tried the new Napster.

Both of these services let you listen a huge music library over the Internet on demand.

You want to listen to a song or a record, you just type it in, and the music just starts playing.

Both services also allow you to burn music to a CD for just under $1/song.

And recently, they’ve both added "to go" services that let you synch whatever songs and playlists you like to your portable music device.

The two big problems with these services is that they don’t work on the Mac and they don’t work with iPods. That’s not their fault (at least the iPod part).  Steve Jobs wants you to use iTunes if you have an iPod and to date, he hasn’t seen the need to offer unlimited listening.

The other really big deal with these services is the ability to share playlists.  I am posting Rhapsody playlists to my blog and emailing them with my brother.  If you have Rhapsody, all you do is click on the link and you can listen to the playlist.  That’s the way music sharing should work.

The problem is that there just aren’t that many Rhapsody or Napster users.  It’s not a mainstream thing yet.

Enter Yahoo!.  Yesterday they launched Y! Music Unlimited.

Here is the comparison of the three services, according to Yahoo!

Unlimited access to subscription music catalog (when purchased on an annual basis)† $4.99/mo $14.95/mo $13.32/mo
Unlimited access to subscription music catalog (when purchased on a monthly basis)† $6.99/mo $14.95/mo $14.99/mo
Share music with friends using Yahoo! Messenger
Transfer subscription music to portable player
Burnable downloads $.79 $.99 $.89
Personalized recommendations for subscription music
Pre-programmed commercial- free radio stations 120+ 50+ 80+

At first glance, Y! Music Unlimited looks to be a fantastic deal.  I am going to download this service and give it a try.

Possibly the biggest thing about Yahoo!’s entrance is that they’ve integrated this service with a new music search engine that not only searches their music service, but also the rest of the music on the Internet.  Vertical search for music.  Cool.

But Yahoo! hasn’t addressed the two big issues I outlined.  There is no Mac client and there’s no iPod compatibility.

Probably the best thing that can come of Yahoo!’s entrance into this market is lowering the price for Rhapsody and Napster, which certainly should happen, and hopefully pressure for Apple to offer unlimited listening and a "to go" service, which may not happen because it may negatively impact Apple’s iTunes margins.

Regardless of what Apple does, here is the thing I want Yahoo!, Real, and Napster to do.  Make your shared playlist links compatible with each other.  Create a standard for sharing music legally on the Internet.  That’s what this market needs most of all.

Here are some del.icio.us links to the Y! Music Unlimited story.

UPDATE:  Here is the blog post from the guy who built the Y! Music Unlimited service.  I found this link via del.icio.us.