Rhapsody vs iTunes: Which is Better, and Why?

There’s a new bot response from Pixie in chat, responding directly to the ‘what is music’ question:

Chris downloads all his music through Rhapsody. As his friend, you can get a free 14-day trial (unlimited access) right now – it’s a personal jukebox that runs within your Web browser. Mac and PC compatible! Better than iTunes.

Why do I think Rhapsody subscription is better than iTunes? It’s not for a love of Real (the company, or its software). It’s a matter of choice to me.

  1. I consume music in such a way that ala carte purchases would put me in the poor house. iTunes does not have a music / media subscription option, and likely never will.
  2. When someone in the chat room asks me to listen to a band I’ve never heard of, it’s usually in my Rhapsody account – so pressing Play is all I need to do.
  3. I have so many CDs sitting inside a storage closet somewhere in the house. What’s the point of grabbing them if I can easily get to the same music (with the same quality) online? I could rip them, sure – but then I’d have to keep track of data across several computers or a central server, when it’s just as easy (read: convenient) to click a button.
  4. I do happen to have Sonos, though I’m not getting full use out of it because our house is already overflowing with entertainment options. Regardless, Sonos is Rhapsody-compatible.
  5. If I’m in the car, I usually tune into XM. If I’m at home, I’m usually sitting in front of a computer. If I’m away from either of those two locations, I’m likely too busy to consume anything.
  6. I hate DRM, but at least I don’t feel like I’m downloading and storing crippled files with a Rhapsody subscription. To me, a Rhapsody subscription is akin to a radio station that I can construct, in real-time. Precision.
  7. I don’t really use my iPhone as a portable media player – not even for podcasts. If I’m really interested, I just open the YouTube applet on the iPhone and do a quick search – done deal.
  8. I don’t own the music anyway, so what’s the point in purchasing it vs. renting it? I hardly listen to the CDs I already own… all that ala carte money down the drain, if you ask me.
  9. 14-day free trial vs. indefinite 30 second clips. You shouldn’t even need the trial, other than to find out if they carry your favorite artists (and yes, Rhapsody has RSS feeds for just about everything).
  10. I don’t need to load a desktop client to play music – I just install the plugin for Firefox, IE, or Safari. Works fine on my Mac, too. I have a browser open all the time, anyway. I don’t want to download an album before I can listen to it. Understand, when I endorse Rhapsody, I’d strongly recommend NOT INSTALLING THEIR DESKTOP SOFTWARE – it is absolutely unnecessary, even with a Rhapsody subscription.

Okay, now can anybody give me a list of reasons why iTunes ala carte model is better than a Rhapsody subscription?

46 thoughts on “Rhapsody vs iTunes: Which is Better, and Why?”

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  2. While I fully understand your reasoning and logic, I still prefer iTunes. Although I can’t even begin to afford all of the music I want to listen to, I want to own it, not rent it. This is especially nice when I am beyond broke and can’t afford to maintain the subscription, I don’t lose my music.

  3. nice, i deff like your “argument” for rhapsody, and i already are not too fond of itunes. i personally like having a copy of my music to throw on my psp or ps3 to listen to on the go, but the flexibility of music choice on rhapsody and unlimited streaming with a subscription gets my vote, although i usually copy over a cd.

  4. Great but you never stated why you hated i tunes. Also do you use the Iphone primarily as a phone. Seems like a bit of a waste?

    Also I love that it gives you a 14 day trail. But how o you keep up with all your subscriptions. youtube,xm, websites etc…

  5. id go with rhapsody because i do not want to pay $1.00 per song wit rhapsody you have a subscription that allows you to get as much songs as you want for a little fee and instead of drm that itunes use it wont allow you to share the song with rhapsody you get the mp3 so you can share the song and that is why i pick rhapsody over itunes

  6. i prefer subscription-based music service too, having used yahoo unlimited and MTV Urge, both bought by Rhapsody now. i love almost all genres of music, so the subscription-based service is more suited to me, instead spending a lot of money through iTunes/Amazon/CDs. and i usually like songs for a few months and get bored with them over time, which points out that i shouldn’t be purchasing songs. Rhapsody’s got a good and clean interface too.

    i actually discontinued my subscription-service since i bought my iphone, and sold my old creative mp3 player, and it sucks now, so i probably will be heading back to rhapsody.

    but all said and done, DRM sucks! (but its ok with rented music)

  7. Although it doesn’t sound like my need for actual music would pertain to you, but I would much rather own the music so I can listen to it when I am not connected to the internet, which happens rather often. For instance when I go home from school, I have three hour car drive, and with no job consistent job, I prefer to only have to pay once for something rather than have to pay for something on a reoccurring basis just to access it. I also commute between SF and San Jose every weekday during the summer, another instance where it’s nice to be able to access all of music.

    So while your points seem valid you are paying two monthly subscriptions. Possibly in the long run cheaper than owning the music, but it’s really nice when traveling to have access to all of my music. (as a side note, how do you listen to your music when on an airplane?)

  8. see, now i HAVE to use the iTunes alacarte method, because i typically listen to most songs average 1000 times…. no that is not an exaggeration….

    i have listened to Rebirth By skillet almost 3000 times now…. and the whole End of Silence CD 537 times, cutting out the lowest song, 1064….

    so… yeah, my preference and feedback….

  9. Heres 3 reasons why I hate Rhapsody

    1. They have bad support! When I decided to make iTunes my official music resource, I had to call them to cancel my account due to my computer not working. The problem wasn`t the calling, but when I had to call! They were strict about calling during business hours which I was unable to do because of their different time zones. ( I canceled it once my got fixed)

    2. A friend of mine found out that while it is open, it causes glitches every couple of seconds (it causes CPU spikes). Which most people might not notice. I`m not 100% sure, but I think iTunes wont do this

    3. When I finally canceled my account with Rhapsody, they still charged me for that month and the next one. When I got time to call them again all they told me was “Sorry sir, but I can`t help you with this matter. The money has already been charged and your Rhapsody account will be ending next month.”

  10. Thank you chris im now think about making the switch because i have over 10gb’s of music on my computer and with rphapsody dowloading every song inst nessicary.Thanks Again

  11. itunes

    ipods and mp3 players are popular because…. people like to have their music away from their computers and cars. iphones and ipods are the way to go, and itunes keeps things organized and loaded on to those devices. Not to mention as far as I can tell itunes is one of the best ways to get your music. Also many new vehicles have inputs for iphones/ipods which allows for perfect playback.

    The ipod portion of the iphone is one major factor in what makes the iphone so great.

  12. I’ve never considered using Rhapsody as i thought it was software based and only for windows, which i don’t often use. The service sounds interesting and to play any song that i want when i want sounds awesome. Last.Fm and Pandora are great services but are needing some minor adjustments to get them write. All in all, Rhapsody does sound great. I’ll be sure to check it out.

  13. I think most people buy from iTunes because of it’s compatibility with the iPod, and the fact that people like the sense that they’re owning something, not renting it.

  14. I have a Mac and a iPod so it was just natural for me to try iTunes. So far I’ve spent a $100 on songs not found in my cd collection. Seems fair to me. The money I would have had to of spent to buy the one hit wounders cd’s would have been $1000’s. I’ve never tried rhapsody so it’s probably not fair to comment. But, iTunes is just so easy and secure. I’ll probably never try anything else any way.

  15. While I can see what your saying, I have disagree with you in some elements of this.

    1. If you do have an iPod you have to use iTunes. So it’s not practicle for people who use the iPod on a daily basis. We need the music to be in iTunes and ready to download to the iPod. If your running on the iPhone it’s a different story. That sort of drops the whole MP3 idea, and changes to portable computer with music abilities built in.

    2. I used to have Rhapsody. The price was to much, in my opinion, for not having the music downloaded, and rather just streaming to my computer. Which brings me to point three.

    3. Streaming music? Uh-oh! My computer is slow, and sad, and streaming would kick it around way to much. Leaving your computer for a little bit to download the song is nice, so your computer doesn’t start skipping parts of the song. With a new powerhouse Mac Pro, like Chris’s, it’s possible to be streaming while doing other things. But for older computers this takes it’s toll very fast.

  16. Love iTunes for ease of use and for storing all my audio on from audio books to podcasts. Thank you for your commentary on this subject and others that help all of us out here in the digital world.

  17. Rhapsody and Itunes are both great in my eyes cause they basically have same pricing and ways of buying.I would pick Rhapsody though cause it is easier for searching.

  18. Chris- There is something neither IPOD nor Rhapsody that I use for music. It’s called Slacker. Using Slacker, I devise “channels” by typing in a list of music artists and then naming the channel. Slacker then does the rest of the work: it streams music, commercial free, only by the artists that I indicated. It’s available in a free version, which I use. This allows me 6 skips per hour if I don’t want to hear the particular song. I can, if I want , ban that song from ever playing again.
    They also have preset channels made, if you prefer doing things the easier way. For example, they have 100 artists listed on their Classic Rock channel.

    I find the sound quality to be very good.

    I enjoy merely making up the lists of artists for the stations. BTW, their inventory of artists is extensive. There is a portable version that can be purchased from them for use in, say, cars.

    Give it a try; go to http://www.slacker.com

    PS One of the CEO’s from XM radio is on the Slacker board of directors, or whatever they call their governing body.

    I’m interested to hear what you think of Slacker.
    -G. Schu

  19. Rhapsody does a much better job of allowing me to managing the gigabytes of music in my PC’s hard-drive. Doesn’t immediately want to copy everything into a directory of its own. It looks where I tell it – and only if I tell it. When iTunes sucks down a copy of everything it finds on my machine, I’ve got file bloat I don’t want. I’ve got hundreds of gigs of storage available. That’s not the issue. The issue is management.

    I’m a musician, and when I’m learning a classic tune (fiddle, guitar, mandolin) I can use Rhapsody to pull down 10 or 14 versions of it and pop them into a “woodshedding” playlist that I listen to over and over and learn the tune by hearing all the subtle shadings back to back to back. Rhapsody’s GUI, despite iTunes connection with Apple, is much more intuitive for me. What is simple with Rhapsody is sometimes frustrating with iTunes.

    Rhapsody also has a much broader selection of music. If you want to hear what’s on commercial radio, then music selection is on par with both services. But if you are really interested in less commercial styles and genres, Rhapsody is the place to go.

    Every once in a while I download iTunes again to see if the user interface has improved, and every time I’m disappointed and I uninstall.

    Earlier tonight, I’m downloaded the latest iTunes on my wife’s PC so she can get the one thing she can’t get with Rhapsody: same-day downloads of the American Idol performances. Great marketing by iTunes given the size of that show’s audience. 99 cents to hear half a song. What a gold mine!

    Anyway, downloaded it, it still sucks.

  20. Your billing address indicates that you reside outside of the United States. Currently, we are only able to offer Rhapsody to customers within the US.


  21. I have used Rhapsody since their inception and have been very satisfied. I consume huge amounts of music and not having to purchase every song I want to listen to is a huge bonus economically. My music spending has dropped from about $100 per month to $15 per month.

    For music that I do want to own, I would NEVER download it from any service. The sound quality is still superior on CD, but if available, I’ll buy it on high definition DVD-Audio (special player required).

    For those times that I am away from the computer, I have a Rhapsody compatible MP3 player, having an AUX in jack on my car stereo, and a Rhapsody compatible network media player on my home stereo. This hardware cost me less than $300.00, including my Shure earbuds (excellent!) and is quite satisfactory for even demanding audiophiles like me.

    I will say that Rhapsody’s tech support is limited, but unless you’re completely inept at using a computer, you don’t need them.

  22. Interesting read, after googling “itunes rhapsody”. Funny that people keep saying that they want itunes because the want to own rather than rent music, but as far as I understand it, rhapsody enables ownership in their $15 per month plan, even facilitates CD burning.

    Slacker.com looks pretty cool, but is limited.

    I’m wondering if my wife and I can both share one $15/month Rhapsody account.

    Also, it looks like artist like the Beatles are missing, and if a quick google search is correct, they’re soon coming to itunes. I wonder what else is missing. Still, it’s way better than the limited limewire songs that i can find. And $15/month is good peace of mind knowing that I’m not doing something illegal.

  23. I own so many CDs that I had to build a rack to store them…could not buy one big enough! Hardly listen to any of them!

    For the price of one (!) CD a month, I can listen to any/all the music Rhapsody has, on my laptop, which plugs into the Surround in the living room. the Bose radio in the kitchen, the systems in my shop, or the one at the pool….you get the idea!

    No one has mentioned “the Rhapsody Player”. I have 3 Sandisk Sansas…they are comparable in size/capacity to the original Ipod nano.
    One subscription will allow 3 such devices, and 3 computers to be used.

    Cannot say enough positive about Rhapsody!

    CDs are so “20th century”!

    Ipods/Itunes are for Suckers!!


  24. I downloaded the free trial of Rhapsody and so far I like it but I want to know is there any way you can transfer those songs into your itunes library so they can be put on an ipod? It says you can access you itunes through Rhapsody on the website but it wont allow me to drag them into my itunes library, do you know how to do that?

  25. Two words: customer support – I tried Rhapsody for a while, when I had problems customer service was close to not there. What few problems I have had with iTunes were solved the same day with followups to see how the service was.

    To me that means a lot.

  26. Couple of points.

    Your iPOD will not work with Rhapsody subscription services, however, you don’t need to store your entire collection on your ipod either. I have a 20GB ipod with most of my CDs, but sync my 4GB sansa for rhapsody every week or so. I love it, I completely go with whatever I want every week – I don’t even know what I’m going to put on the Sansa till I start looking in the library. sometimes I just grab every album in the top 10 – no more thinking about money to listent to an album.

    By far – Rhapsody is the service for people who like to hear new music all the time. I’ll bet I go through 150 new songs a month – for $15.99 a month. Did I mention it syncs to mention is plays on Tivo, 5 PCs and 3 MP3 players. (You do have to sync the mp3 player at least once a month to keep up the licensing – but that’s not a big deal.)

    .89 cents a song to purchase with no buring restrictions if you want to burn a CD.

  27. For my money, iTunes is definitely a better choice. The organization of my music, ease of use of the app, a VERY wide selection of songs, movies, games, etc., ownership of the songs, use up to 5 computers, the iPhone, and no one buys 300 songs a week so it just isn’t economical for me to go to Rhapsody.

  28. With Rhapsody you get a subscription model and the option to purchase songs. Hook up your computer to a stereo system and you got a full juke box with millions of songs.

    Rhapsody is awesome. I wish more people would see the benefit of using Rhapsody versus ITunes

  29. Well I prefer rhapsody mainly because I can buy music without drm and it’s about the same quality as the itunes [only an audiophile would tell a difference since itunes uses aac and rhapsody uses mp3]

    Seeing that I use [or used to use] my psp as my main music player itunes was not a choice for me. But now that my psp broke and I’m forced to use my ipod nano [1st gen] I still use rhapsody to buy music but just use itunes to organize my collection.

  30. Rhapsody is the way to go for sure. Itunes has only recently took the lock of their song files that you download. Rhapsody now lets you download mp3’s directly to your PC without any subscription. In other words they now do a monthly subscription and a song ala carte choice without a subscription. I recently bought to full albums for $9 and downloaded them without any Rhapsody software installed at all. They conveniently put the albums into a zip file and I simply downloaded without any other hassle. How nice is that….

    I hate any store or service that requires you to use their crappy software when all you really want is the song.

  31. IMHO none but a goold ol’ CD riped in FLAC or WAV is the way to go.

    My problem with iTunes is the music you pay for is not the whole but a part. I will not go into file compression and what a mp3 really is at 128 or even 256. If I pay for a song or anything for that matter I would like the whole thing and not a part of it.

    I like to see what some say. Everyone is doing it. Cars and so on ipod this and that. iTunes > all and so on.
    My problem with ipod is the same as iTunes. It just can’t do anything right. Sure it does a lot but not one thing good. Take that back. It can surf the web like no other.

    With Rhapsody you pay for what you get. You know it is renting. I look at iTunes the same way. It is renting music but I have to pay for every last song I care to hear. Renting.. wha..? Easy. Let me hook this sub par 256k mp3 up to my $5,000 NAD amp and hear good sound. It just down right sucks. What choice do I have but to buy a CD. With Rhapsody I can fire it up at work, car, home PC, laptop, phone ect. Sure it is not all great. Sure I can not fire it up on my home amp just as I can’t with iTunes. My point is you pay for what you get.

    FYI do you use netflix? It is renting. For $15 a month I could buy 1 DVD a month. Sure buying is better but it will takes years to become better. Invest in w/e makes you happy.

    Ever hook up good phones to a iphone or ipod? Not that good. Buy a Cowon if music is that important. Buy a Sony Lifestyle laptop tiny WiFi is what you need. I just can’t find anything a ipod or iphone gives to justify its price tag.

    Rhapsody is the way to go so long you understand it is just renting and OK with that.

  32. Hey I have a question, I want to chose a site where I can download music from and be able to put it on a cd or a mp3 player…which site is better itunes, rhapsody, or amazon? I do want a site that offers a subscription so that I am not paying 100.00 for 100 songs…I just need one that has a subscription and allows me to put my songs on a cd or mp3 player…

  33. Charity Caravaggio
    English 2B
    Mr. Anderson

    Rhapsody vs. iTunes

    “Wow! Thanks!” I took the nano from him and handed him the fifty bucks. Talk about my lucky day. I had just bought an iPod nano for only 50 dollars!! I mean come one…$50?! That was insanely cheap back then. He said nothing was wrong with it. He said he had just bought it and well he’s my brother so I believed him. Too bad my luck just had to run out. Too bad that wonderful little musical device that later became my world had to freeze and never work ever again. Too bad I was out 50 bucks in about one month’s time. Well after that month I was pretty revved about music so I just had to get another music playing device but I came upon a problem. I didn’t have a source of income so I didn’t have the 100 dollars (or plus) that I needed to buy an iPod. So I bought an MP3 player that had twice as much memory and even looked cooler for only 60 bucks! How cool is that? In getting this new device I used rhapsody to listen and buy music instead of iTunes. I think iTunes lovers should widen their horizons by looking at other music listening/buying medias. I believe that rhapsody is better than iTunes because not everyone has an iPod.
    Seriously…you wouldn’t believe how happy I was to FINALLY get an iPod. EVERYONE I knew had one and I knew that if I didn’t have one, then I wasn’t as cool as my friends. I didn’t have a hundred dollars just sitting in my pocket though. So for awhile I believed that I wasn’t as “cool” as everyone else. But one day my older brother said he needed money and he would sell me his iPod nano for only 50 bucks! I HAD FIFTY BUCKS! That very day I fished out every cent I owned and gave it all to him just to hold that silver nano in my hand and call it mine. I was thrilled! I told all my friends. I showed it off to them. I matched bling, cases, and even earbuds with it. I think I probably named it something. I loved it. I remember one time when I was grounded from it. I was so depressed I didn’t even eat for a day. It was ridiculous. But after about a month…it,,,it,,,it broke!!
    “What’s wrong with your computer? I plugged my iPod into it to charge and now my iPod’s frozen!!”
    My friend Katie just shrugged her shoulders while she did her make up in the mirror. I felt like banging her head against a wall. Didn’t she know what a crisis this was?!! My iPod wasn’t working!!
    “Just see if it will run out of battery power and die then plug it in the computer again.”
    “The battery’s not even going down. It’s just stuck!” I felt so frustrated.
    “That’s weird,” she said.
    I gave her an annoyed look. What a bad day. I was at my best friend’s house. I had plugged my iPod into her computer and now it was BUSTED! My music device that I had loved so much had stopped working…for good. I was mad.

    After a little while I decided to buy a Memorex MP3 player for 60 dollars. It had amazing features! It could actually do more than my dinky little nano could do. With it I could listen to the radio, view pictures AND video, store documents, and of course listen to music…but twice as much music! When I did have a nano I used iTunes to listen to songs and buy songs. With my mp3 player I obviously couldn’t use iTunes so I found something else. I found rhapsody.

    From personal experience I believe that rhapsody is better than iTunes. Rhapsody is easier to use, you can create an account, listen to music faster and longer, and you can also buy your music for a lower price. I think my top two all time favorite things about rhapsody is that (1) instead of only listening to 30 seconds of a song you want to hear (iTunes) you can have a 14 day free trial to listen to anything you want! (2) I don’t need to install a desktop client to play music. Rhapsody is strictly internet…no software downloads required.

    I want all the iTunes lovers to know that rhapsody is truly better than iTunes in so many ways and they should really look into it. It’s simpler, it works for the ‘poor’ people who don’t have fancy iPods, it’s more reliable, and it’s cheaper! You will probably find a lot of advantages if you use rhapsody and I practically guarantee that you’ll thoroughly like it.

  34. Rhapsody gives the artist .001 cents per download, the lowest by far of any digital distributor. Don’t support those crooks, use Itunes instead!! Rhapsody is only interested in paying mainstream artists scads of money for exclusive digital distribution rights even though they make all their money off the backs of the throngs of content creators that comprise the ‘long tail’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Tail

    BTW your blog is bloatware. It took forever to download all the cheezy crap on this page. Good thing I’m only here to bitch about Crapsody.

  35. Rhapsody is a terrible service. It is horrible with playlists. You can’t blend stuff you’ve added via CD to it’s pool of digital rights protected stuff. It does incredibly annoying things like suddenly put the wrong songs in a playlist you have created or suddenly deleting the playlist, e

    I’ve tried for 3 years to make it work and have spent countless hours on the phone with the tech crew. Pay the money – get itunes… run away from Rhapsody…. It is torture for anyone who really likes to create playlists.

  36. I like Rhapsody better but i use both. I like Rhapsody because i can listen to a whole cd before i buy it and if i want to keep hearing it I can download it to my mp3 player to stream it . If I really like it I will buy it . I will see who has the cheaper price sometimes and get from I tunes if it is cheaper. I use I tunes for a look up tool for new and noteworthy stuff. Then again go and listen on Rhapsody. I also take advantage of paying for a whole year at a discounted rate. I have been with Rhapsody so long my fee breaks down to about 6.50 a month.

  37. It’s late 2010, and I’m sure a lot of things about Rhapsody have changed since the thread initially started in 2008, but now there’s really not much argument in favor of iTunes. With rhapsody to go, you can download as much music as your mp3 player (or smartphone) can hold and take it with you. They have an iPod/iPhone application, so if you’re so married to using that, you don’t get left out in the cold. And at $15 a month, it’s a better deal for anyone who would otherwise buy at least 1 album a month. And if you are so concerned about the DRM, there are ways to strip it from the files so you don’t have to keep syncing.

    It’s just hard to imagine a scenario where iTunes is more cost effective, unless you only listen to a few albums in which case you should just buy the physical CDs, rip backup copies to your hard drive and be done with it.

  38. rhapsody is so much better. no it’s not perfect, but the closest thing we’ve had to a perfect music service was oink, and we know the fat cats could never do something as crazy as actually giving users what they want! (rip oink!) if you have a smartphone, you can download as many tracks as you like and play them anywhere- work, car, home stereo. good point above about netflix- everyone loves netflix, but for some reason many still cling to “owning” music. it used to make a difference when it was a pain to play your rhapsody “rented” tracks anywhere. I used the mp3 to go deal they had a while back and it didn’t work too well. now it’s much better, only $10/month, and no issues. Download whatever you want to your phone, play it anywhere. I remember many years ago, looking forward to a time when I could hold a device in my hand that could access almost any music wirelessly and play it for me anywhere, that time has come. it’s music nirvana.

  39. Im a super music whore, and In the early 2000’s i built a library with windows media, many of my songs are really underground. So underground that it is really hard to find even online, so naturally I must keep my windows media, besides the fact I love how windows media will let you break music down by year….anyways that is a different subject. The point im trying to make is that windows media for me is a must. Rhapsody is awesome, but not a big fan of their library set up. No worries though because rhapsody transfers to my windows media quite easily which allows me
    to mix both windows and rhapsody together for playlists. I plan on paying my subscription every year till I die, so to me I own the music.

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