I sent a link to this previous post to Matt Graves, the PR guy for Rhapsody, and he sent a response. He considers it only remotely possible that removals from the Rhapsody catalog are or will be the result of record-company scheming, and continues:
Sure, labels (indie or major) could tease consumers by offering music online for only a short period of time, then take it offline and make it available only at retail, but that seems like a lot of work to sell a few CDs. And taking it offline permanently could make people more angry than if you never offered it online in the first place.
I agree that it can be confusing figuring out why some albums are available for purchase but not for streaming. Right now, for example, you can purchase the Beastie Boys’ new album through our RealPlayer Music Store and through iTunes but you can’t stream it through Rhapsody. You can purchase Radiohead’s Kid A through our store, but not stream it through Rhapsody. Once in a while, the opposite can happen too: you can stream the Rolling Stones’ entire ABKCO Records catalog through Rhapsody, for example, but you can’t buy it online in digital format anywhere.
Our fervent hope is that as music subscriptions gain momentum, people in the industry (especially artists and their managers) will see and embrace the potential of the model and be more consistent in offering their music through all online media (stores and services) once they take that first leap in going digital.
He’s right that the removals, if done regularly, would upset people so much that the added CD sales wouldn’t really matter. I’m still worried that once subscription services are very widely used as replacements for CD collections, record companies may begin to see dollar signs in pulling the rights. Of course, most people buy their favorite albums on CD, and access to non-favorite albums through streaming services is pretty fungible; if I can’t listen to Jennifer Kimball on Rhapsody anymore (and I can’t), I’ll listen to The Story or Wayfaring Strangers instead (and I do).
Thanks to Matt for his quick response. It’s pretty clear that Real’s interests and consumers’ interests are aligned on this issue; if record companies pull the rug out from under the streaming services, subscribers will be unhappy and might defect to download stores or (horror of horrors) P2P.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.