This spring, Rhapsody quietly replaced the Web-based version of the service with a more robust online platform. Today, the full implications of that move are bearing fruit, with Rhapsody flipping the switch on a massive socially oriented overhaul of the service's user experience.
The new look adds what many other, newer subscription music services have had for some time. Namely, the ability for each subscriber to have his or her own profile page within the service that allows other users to view recently played songs, playlists and play songs through Rhapsody from directly within the profile.
Now, wsers can not only share with other Rhapsody users what they're listening to, but also post their activity on their Facebook feed. And if Facebook friends "like" a song or band, Rhapsody will automatically add a link to let subscribers stream that song from the Rhapsody servers.
There are certainly a few key things missing, like the ability to subscribe to other users playlists. But it's certainly a step in the right direction for a music service that first went live well before social networking even existed.
And while Rhapsody is well behind rivals like MOG or Rdio in terms of social functionality, it's far beyond these competitors in terms of subscribers (with more than 800,000 last reported). So that begs the question -- What's the better strategy, create a social music service from scratch and hustle to sign up subscribers or add a social layer to a service that already has critical mass?
While it's understandable that Rhapsody would focus these new features on the Web and mobile-based versions of the service, one hopes the changes are soon reflected in the downloadable Rhapsody client for computers as well. According to internal numbers shared by the company, just over 37% of Rhapsody's traffic came from the PC client in August. The Web-based traffic accounted for only about 16%, while the mobile app matched client activity at 37% as well.