Obscure shouldn't mean unattainable
April 4, 2012 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Rhapsody has started to suck. Why? And what are my options?

I'm a long-time Rhapsody user, for a number of reasons. It's got a pretty huge music library, and it included a lot of really obscure indie stuff that I love. I'm a voracious new music listener; I'll try out dozens of albums a month, listen to most of them once, a few of them twice, and a handful will go into my regular rotations. Rhapsody was perfect for me; it let me try everything, and keep going back to the stuff that I like without breaking my budget.

I have it on a laptop at work, an MP3 player in my car, my phone, my tablet... it was an almost-ideal music solution.

Lately, though, the obscure albums that I love and went back to a lot have been disappearing. Bands like the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir are gone altogether; Mojave 3's Out Of Tune album has vanished. Recently, one of Rhapsody's recommendations for me was a new album called All The Little Lights by Passenger; it disappeared two days after they recommended it. Bic Runga's new album (I know, it's apparently not great, I still want to try it) never showed up. More and more tracks from really small artists are pay to play.

And now, I've found that Holopaw's absolutely magnificent album Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness. has fallen into Rhapsody's musical pit of despair; I can neither stream it nor pay for it. I'm aghast.

So, if there's anyone who's in the know about the inner workings of Rhapsody, is there any hope that that this will get better? Are we in the middle of contract negotiation season with the labels, or is it an indication of the erosion to come?

And, since I've been happily buried in Rhapsody up until now, I'm really out of the loop on streaming services. Is there something better out there for dedicated obscure indie fans with long memories like me? Oh, I should mention; I despise iTunes, I can't afford to buy everything I like, I refuse to pirate because I really want to give at least something back to the artists I love, and I'd really like whatever I end up with to have an Android app.

Umm... help?
posted by MrVisible to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
i've been using and loving Rdio for quite some time now to enjoy music just as you've described. I was able to find all the music you shared except Passenger and Bic Runga, which looks like it's been recently pulled from there as well.

Unfortunately, these streaming services, including Rdio, are at the mercy of the record companies when it comes to unreleased, new, or rare stuff. So your mileage may vary, and often when music disappears from one service, it disappears from all of them.

Rdio is $5/mo. for web and desktop apps, $10 and you get mobile streaming as well.
posted by Avenger50 at 12:28 PM on April 4, 2012

the problem with these streaming services is that the artists are basically not getting paid, especially the indie artists. the price per stream is so low that some don't feel it's worth it.

here's a handy info graphic that details the problem of scale.

if you google "spotify doesn't pay artists" you'll find a lot of writeups on streaming music (yes, i know you said rhapsody, but it's my understanding that it's all basically the same issues).

as to what other streaming site to use? they'll all have problems with catalogs, but i found slacker to have a good amount of weird indie stuff. when i was a subscriber, my husband searched all the major streaming providers and slacker won out in finding weird, out of print music. he was able to find an album that he knew was taped and distributed from some dude's basement in the early 90s.
posted by nadawi at 12:40 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have had two friends pick MOG over Rhapsody recently citing better music selection and superior audio quality in the stream. I've not had any personal experience with it however (and am a Rhapsody member myself so will be watching these answers closely.)
posted by Rewind at 1:17 PM on April 4, 2012

I switched to Zune. I searched all the artists you listed and they are in the Zune library.
posted by LeanGreen at 1:47 PM on April 4, 2012

Though you can't always find everything, I would have to say Grooveshark, hands down for online streaming.

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir
Mojave 3
Bic Runga
posted by lobbyist at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2012

I'm a big fan of Spotify, but it seems like your problem is that with the success of streaming services in the last couple of years, a lot of niche acts are pulling their music because it's costing them record sales in exchange for pennies a stream.
posted by Oktober at 2:28 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

man, they wish it were pennies a stream. the chart i posted suggests it between $0.00029-$0.0022 a stream. and this article talks about how that isn't even really happening at least through the majors.
posted by nadawi at 2:34 PM on April 4, 2012

well, metaphorical pennies

posted by Oktober at 2:35 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

oh, and ps

grooveshark isn't entirely legal

it's basically using the Youtube model of "we'll take stuff down if you file a DMCA notice"

so, yeah, they're being sued by all major music labels and have had their apps denied or removed from both the Apple App Store and Android Market.
posted by Oktober at 2:37 PM on April 4, 2012

Stuff pops in and out of rhapsody (and spotify and mog and napster and and and)'s library all the time for several reasons:

- An artist or label may decide to revoke the 'streaming' license for an album or a discography for any number of reasons
- The copyright holder may change (i.e. when an albums rights revert to an artist) and the new owner may not have cleared the streaming rights
- A clerical error at the label or the publishe

That said, I was a Rhapsody user for almost 10 years before cancelling it this year. I felt that other services were advancing technologically in a way that Rhapsody just hadn't in a long long time.

I'm a Spotify premium user now and i'm happy withi t, although Rhapsody (by virtue of having been around for so much longer and had more time to clear rights for more labels) has a deeper catalog.
posted by softlord at 5:10 PM on April 4, 2012

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