RNI Seeks to Boost ‘Rhapsody’

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RealNetworks Inc. is looking to pick up a bigger share of the online-music business by rolling out both cheaper and more expensive subscription choices for customers.

The company’s “Rhapsody” online jukebox is distributed by Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable and other MSOs, and it launched a new “Rhapsody 25” service that will allow any Internet user to play 25 songs each month on their computer from Rhapsody’s library of 1 million songs free-of-charge.

RNI also launched a “Rhapsody to Go” service, which will allow subscribers to pay $14.99 per month to download an unlimited amount of songs from Rhapsody’s library to portable music players. The service is initially compatible with just two media players – Iriver Inc.’s “H10” and Creative Technology Ltd.’s “Creative Zen Micro” player. It won’t work on Apple Computer Inc.’s “iPod” music players.

RNI CEO Rob Glaser said the company expects its Rhapsody 25 service, while free, to make money for the company since it will entice new users to order subscriptions to Rhapsody, which cost $9.99 monthly.