A computer hardware purchase from some time back included a coupon for a free month's membership with Rhapsody
, a music download service. You can listen to music in real time and download what you want. Sounds great, but there's some catches:
- Audio files are in WMA format, not MP3. Most serious audiophiles will tell you that MP3 is superior.
- Streaming audio is specifically designed to play on speakers. The sound quality drops like a rock if you put headphones on.
- Limited music selections. I've been unable to find selections from the earlier works of some major bands like Genesis. Yet Rhapsody has every obscure version of "Windmills of Your Mind" except for the best one, the one that Matt Drudge plays on his radio show once in a blue moon. (Can anyone tell me who recorded that one?) The movie soundtrack selection is especially wretched; you can find the theme to the original The Thomas Crown Affair ("Windmills"), but not the Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack.
- Even members have to pay to download certain songs - and Rhapsody will play only 30-second excerpts of those songs. If I want to listen to a half a minute of "Orinoco Flow" by Enya, I can get that for free from Yahoo Music.
Update: The reference to The Thomas Crown Affair was originally garbled; this has been cleared up.