Rhapsody 2.0 spins out with burning, mobility features

Listen.com is spinning out a new version of its Rhapsody music subscription service that offers consumers the ability to burn tracks for US$0.99 each, just days after announcing it struck deals with a handful of labels to allow burning capabilities.

Listen's release of Rhapsody 2.0 Monday capitalizes on the company's agreements with Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and a slew of independent labels to allow subscribers to burn more than 75,000 tracks from the service's current catalog of 250,000 songs.

With the new version of Rhapsody, consumers can sign up for an "All Access" subscription plan for $9.95 a month that allows them to burn the tracks for an additional $0.99 each, which can then be played on any standard CD hardware.

Listen said that it is working with other labels to offer more burnable tracks, and expects to announce new deals shortly.

The San Francisco company's ability to offer burning capabilities marks a turning point in the way the music industry has approached the copying of its content. Up until now, the labels have shown great reluctance to unleash their content in the digital realm without strict controls, for fear of rampant piracy.

However, consumers' frustration with the restraints of copy-protection controls may be convincing the industry to loosen its grip on digital music.

In addition to addressing consumers' burning needs, Rhapsody 2.0 also takes on mobility demands, allowing users to access their Rhapsody personal music collection from any Internet-connected PC, by synchronizing users' music library whenever they sign onto Rhapsody from a new computer.

With Rhapsody's added burning and mobility offerings, Listen is hoping that it can win an edge in the burgeoning music subscription market.

The new offerings add to Rhapsody's existing music-on-demand and customized radio programming features.

Rhapsody 2.0 is available through distribution partners such as Audiogalaxy and Sony's Musiclub, as well as from the http://www.listen.com Web site.

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Scarlet Pruitt

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