RealNetworks, Inc. (NASDAQ:RNWK) is opening up a new feature for Rhapsody, their iTunes competitor.Â Prior to launching this feature, Rhapsody offered subscribers streaming copy-protected audio for a monthly fee and the file format was incompatible with iPods and iPhones.Â But now Rhapsody will be selling DRM-free MP3s a la carte and they will be compatible with the iPod and iPhone manufactured by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).
Customers will be able to access 30 second samples of each track.Â Most of the tracks will be around $0.99 per song and $9.99 per album.Â Rhapsody currently has about 5 million songs provided by Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI, and Warner Music.
To appease the demands of music labels, Real will provide “a strong emphasis on the digital album with merchandising centers for ‘new album releases,’ ‘old favorites,’ and ‘who’s on tour.'”Â Labels prefer to sell full albums rather than individual songs.
As part of the launch, Real offered the first 100,000 users to sign up for the MP3 store a free album.Â Real commands about 1% of the online music download market.