Spotify vs. Rhapsody (comparison)

With so many options for music lovers out there, it can be hard to figure out what music streaming services work best with their listening habits, tech preferences and how much they’re willing to spend to listen to practically anything they want. Here’s a comparison to two of the most popular music streaming services, Rhapsody and Spotify, and how each enhances your listening experiences. Right off the bat, if you pick Spotify, Spotify offers video, podcasts, and more in a massive update.

Background

Launched in 2008 by Swedish startup AB, Spotfiy has come a long way in its four years of existence with 4.3 million daily active users and 12.5 million on a monthly basis (global figures), and not to mention 1.6 million paying subscribers across the globe. The DRM-based music streaming service likes to think of itself as your “new music collection” with millions of tracks available on a variety of platforms. While Spotify might be the new kid on the block, Rhapsody has been around since 2001 and is only available in the U.S. Claiming to be the “No.1 online music subscription service,” Rhapsody was the first streaming on-demand music subscription service to offer unlimited access to a large library of digital music for a flat monthly fee with 800,000 paying customers.

Compatible Devices

Both Spotify and Rhapsody are available on Mac and Windows, as well a variety of various devices.

Rhapsody can also be used on the iPhone, iPod touch, Android and Blackberry via downloadable apps and even download music directly to your iPhone or Android phone. Home audio systems can also play the device, such as: Sonos Multi-Room Music System, Logitech Squeezebox Duet, Sonos Play:5, Sonos Play:3, Yamaha MusicCast2 System, Control4 in-wall touch screen, Russound Collage System and many more in-home entertainment systems. Then there are various MP3 players that are compatible with the service, which include the Philips GoGear, SanDisk Sansa Clip and Fuze and Clip Zip.

Spotify is also available on iOS devices, Android phones and various home devices like Sonos wireless music systems, Logitech’s Squeezebox Touch or Radio, Onkyo home cinema receivers, TeliaSonera digital TV, Boxee, WD TV Live or WD TV Live Hub media player and Philips Streamium Wireless Hi-Fi component systems.

Winner: Rhapsody.  They have a bigger selection of compatible MP3 players

Computer Application

Getting started with Spotify is really quite easy, especially if you’re a Facebook fanatic, given the service allows you to connect to your FB account so that others can see what you’re listening to and vice versa. All you need to do is create an account by choosing a username and password then specify if you want the premium, unlimited or the free version (which has certain limitations but more on that later). Download and install it on your Windows or Mac computer, then search and play million of songs. You can easily do a trial run on Spotify for free, but you’ll have to endure ads and can only play it on your computer.Rhapsody works pretty much the same, except it provides a free 14-day trial before you start paying (Spotify remains free unless you subscribe to its premium service but, again, has limitations). Enter your username and password, account information and begin listening to all your favorite tunes. After 14 days, you’ll be charged on a monthly basis.

The user interface on the computer application for Spotify is fairly easy to navigate and use, given it looks like the iTunes jukebox with preferences to your left side. Searches are fast and music streams without delay given you have good Internet service. You can also connect the app to Facebook so that you can easily listen to what your friends are listening to as well as check out their personal playlists or subscriptions if they have any. The homepage of the app shows new releases and top feeds of info of any of your friends and their playlists. This is the closest thing to a recommendation engine, but you can still view related artists by going to their page. Once on an artist’s page, you’ll see tabs that include sections like Overview, Bio and Related Artists. The interface does feature a dark grey color scheme that some might not find too easy on their eyes, though. Spotify has recently added various Apps that allows users to enhance their listening experience. These various include everything from music selected by Rolling Stone editors, personalized concert listening based on your playlists and the ability to sync lyrics to your favorite songs. The computer application is also available for free for non-paid users to enjoy.

The desktop interface for Rhapsody offers easily accessible features, info and listening recommendations right on the homepage. Where Spotify features a darker screen, Rhapsody’s is white and clearer so it’s easy on the eyes. It features genres to the top left, featuring more than 15 various genres, has a music player all the way to the right, new releases at the top, featured blog posts and charts way at the bottom. There’s a “Connect to Facebook” link at the very top so you can share your listening habits online. Overall it’s very clean and easy to navigate. There’s also ad-free radio that allows you to pick a station by artist, genre or theme. All Rhapsody interface panels (Now Playing Mixer, Play-lists, Artist, Album, etc.) are resizable, and the user controls the metadata panels they see in their library.

Winner: Tie: Rhapsody has more metadata on artists so it’s easy to discover new music, while Spotify’s new apps really enhances users’ experiences

Mobile Application

Rhapsody’s mobile application home page is pretty simple and easy to use. It features things like Queue, Genres, New This Week, Charts, Rhapsody Radio, Listening History and Settings with smaller buttons at the bottom that have Search, Playlists, My Library, and Downloads. Everything is fast and responsive, including searching for an artist, but you have to make sure you spell the name right because it will take longer if you don’t. Pretty much everything from the desktop app is provided on the mobile one, except the featured blog posts.

Spotify’s app is also pretty straightforward and an extension of its computer one. However it doesn’t include the apps option the desktop one has and the searches can take a while. More than one device can access the account, but only one person at a time can use it. But in offline mode (which allows you to download music to your device) negates that issue provided you go into offline mode in the app…but then again, you can only have so many devices that can download music in offline mode so don’t think you can have like five at a time. There’s also no related artist tab. In fact, it lacks a lot of the tabs from the computer app, which makes music discovery a bit more challenging on the iPhone app.  Spotify can also harvest your iTunes catalog and lets you play your locally stored iTunes music from the Spotify interface, but you have to store this locally on your device and you can’t access it from the cloud.

Winner: Rhapsody since it provides more metadata on artists, making it easier to discover new music

Sound Quality

Members have a problem with the sound quality of Rhapsody and have asked numerous times on forums for the site for the service to enhance it. Currently, sound quality for Rhapsody goes as follows: 256kbps CBR MP3 for purchased tracks; 192 kbps CBR MP3 for streaming to home audio devices; 128kbps AAC when streamed through PC via Rhapsody software; and 64kbps AAC + or 192kbps AAC for streamed or downloaded to Android devices and 64kbps AAC + for iOS ones.

Spotify provides better sounds for its premium members only, who can stream music at a higher bitrate of up to 320kbps on your computer (but they’ve noted that not all tracks are currently available in high bitrate). For mobile, Spotify says music streamed through their services is 160kbps for desktop and mobile (but there is a “low bandwidth” option of 96kbps for mobile).

Winner: Spotify offers better all-around sound

Social Capabilities

Spotify easily integrates with Facebook seamlessly so you can interact with friends and check out what they’re listening to both in Facebook and in the desktop app (not the mobile app). You can easily subscribe to their playlists and email your own playlists to friends who might be interested. While Rhapsody has playlist sharing with Facebook, it doesn’t provide an immersive social sharing experience.

Winner: Spotify given its focus on social interaction whereas Rhapsody doesn’t seem to be focused on its true social network integration strategy at this time

Catalog

Rhapsody is said to have more than 13 million titles in its library, offering excellent search capabilities, and quick, convenient downloads. Rhapsody and MTV Networks team up to bring you music before it hits the stores. In the last year alone, members have had sneak previews of Jay-Z, Rob Thomas, Green Day, Lady GaGa and more.

Spotify is said to have  15 million songs with more than 99.9% of them available in high bitrate for Premium users. Their catalog also adds an average of 10,000 new tracks daily and they add them as quickly as possible. Both don’t have tracks from the Beatles, Metallica, Led Zeppelin and others that have opted out from bands not wanting to participate in licensing agreements. But enter a name for one of these bands/artists in Spotify and you’ll probably get some U.K.-only releases, album covers or live albums.

Winner: Spotify has 2 million more songs

Membership Perks

The newest addition to the Rhapsody family is the MP3 Store. All tracks and albums sold in the MP3 store are DRM-Free and can be used on iPod, transferred to any other portable music device, loaded to an unlimited number of computers and burned to an unlimited number of CDs. Individual tracks cost $.99 and albums sell for $9.99. Spotify may be free to those who don’t mind apps, but subscribing to the Premium subscription allows for mobile use, exclusive content not available on the free version and you can play Spotify via music systems (as you can with Rhapsody, too).

Winner:  Spotify offers a free version

Limitations

Rhapsody Premier allows only one mobile device to access the service for $9.99/month and streaming is limited to one home device at a time (to use other devices you have to deauthorize the device).  For extra cash ($) Rhapsody Premier allows up to three devices to access the service and at the same. Rhapsody doesn’t have an official iPad app, but its iPhone one will suffice.

While you can access Spotify from any device with the correct login credentials, you can only stream to one device at a time and don’t have the option to purchase a multiperson subscription.  However, up to 3 devices can download music in OFFLINE mode for the same low price of $9.99.  They too don’t have an official iPad app, but have an iPhone one that works on the iPad, too.  Spotify’s only real limitation is that it doesn’t have a great have a great music discovery system.

Winner:  Spotify allows you to put the offline music on more devices

Pricing

Rhapsody has two tiers for memberships:

  • $9.99/month for its Rhapsody Premier, which includes online listening, home audio listening, mobile app or MP3 player access for one device, subscription downloads for MP3 players and mobile apps
  • $14.99/month for its Premier Plus, which includes online listening, home audio listening, mobile app or MP3 player access for 3 devices, subscription downloads for MP3 players and mobile apps

Spotify’s also has two tiers for membership:

  • $4.99/month for Unlimited, which includes add-free listening on your computer ONLY
  • $9.99/month for their Premium service, which includes ad-free listening, better sound quality, and mobile app accessibility on one device at a time.

Winner: Spotify’s most expensive membership package cheaper

 Overall Winner

Rhapsody might have been around longer, but the new kid on the block is quickly taking over with its various perks and services. Spotify knows what music lovers want and seems to be all about innovation given the many upgrades and improvements it has added since first launching. They’re all about social integration, which is important these days, and even offer non-paid users a pretty good taste of their services.

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Kristie Bertucci

Kristie Bertucci is an L.A.-based writer, who can't live without her MacBook Pro. When she's not writing, she's either reading or shopping (online, of course) and loves lazy days so she can catch up on her DVR-recorded shows and movies. She's definitely a Mac girl, she loves music and is currently on a mission to to have an insane and enviable iTunes library.

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35 Comments

  1. I’ve been a Rhapsody/Napster user over 10 years.

    The bit rate is now up to 320 kbps for both streaming and download quality. You just have to adjust this in the settings.

    I bought a yearly Rhapsody Premium account in February 2016 for ~$95 or just ~$8/mo.

  2. Spotify limits the number of songs that can be downloaded for offline listening to 3000. That sucks. Im thinking of giving rhapsody a try.

  3. I had Rhapsody for a couple of years,I will go back when the get real,and up grade their bit rate.For the money I spent on my stereo,I want the highest quality bit-rate feeding it,the rest is trivial to my ears..

  4. Rhapsody is the big winner. I’ve had Rhapsody for years, premium for three months. Tried Spotify a few weeks ago – the full one – and dumped it after a week. The biggest drawback was organization. Either one is fine if you’re a casual listener, but for music crazies (I have 15k old school “purchased” songs) Spotify gets out of hand almost right away. Forget browsing your collection in Spotify in other words. Rhapsody has a classic organization to it, plus it works well through the bluetooth on my car stereos (using Nexus 7 and iPod touch) while I had some playback troubles with Spotify (with the Nexus). So for now I’ve got to stick with Rhapsody…

  5. Rhapsody pays artists more per stream than Spotify. For me as a musician this is important. Spotify gives away too much free music; Rhapsody does not and that’s they’ll always be around.

  6. There are two articles here. One is for people who just want free music and oh look, Billy is listenin to Stairway to Heaven.. again. Fascinating.

  7. I use both Rhapsody as well as Spotify. Two negative points for me, for Spotify, are the Facebook integration and music discovery. Enough has been said about Facebook so I won’t go into it here. The things other reviewers have said about FB Integration are my feelings too.

    Music discovery is fine IF you are looking for newer tracks. However, if you’re into older types of music you might find discovering new artists challenging.

    I do like Spotify’s UI a better than Rhapsody’s. I think Spotify’s radio feature is also probably better as well. Rhapsody’s web interface is easier to figure out, thought so is Spotify’s with a day or two of use.

    I don’t think the difference of two million tracks for Spotify can be considered an advantage. If Spotify’s music discovery were better, than perhaps.

  8. Kristie, very nice job. I have subscribed to Rhapsody for +8 years. I still prefer Rhapsody over Spotify. However, Rhapsody still has lots of technical glitches. One of their biggest is synching playlists. One cannot get the exact same playlist captured from the PC to a portable device. It is hit and miss. Spotify’s higher bit rate is huge. Their UI is awesome, and their social elements are so 2012+. Watch out Rhapsody. A better service is almost here.

    1. Rhapsody does have social integration through Facebook, but it isn’t a main focus. My only true complaint with Rhapsody is the lower sound quality which could be better.

  9. I did this yesterday but now the comment is gone…can you actually download a song’s tack on spotify. I know you can with rhapsody.

  10. Bogus! Rhapsody is far superior and her logic is ridiculous. I’ve been with Rhapsody for around 8 years and love it. We recently tried Spotify and it wasn’t even worth bothering with. Blah!

  11. The biggest point you miss is HOW DO THEY PAY THE ARTISTS. Spotify is the biggest rip-off of our times. They pay less — criminally less — than any other streaming service, It works out to $0.005 per stream, that’s a paltry $165 even for a MILLION plays. That’s like stealing someones car and leaving the stuff in their trunk on the sidewalk. Spotify is the music service for people who don’t care about the people who make the music, and only exists because the billionaire owner gave sweetheart stock deals to all of the labels. There are better streaming services to check out or purchase music. Use Pandora or SoundExchange, they at least pay musicians fairly.

    1. I had Rhapsody for a couple of years,I will go back when the get real,and up grade their bit rate.For the money I spent on my stereo,I want the highest quality bit-rate feeding it,the rest is trivial to my ears..

  12. Rhapsody does not have any Linux support and doesn’t appear to care. Spotify has a beta version which is a heck of a lot more useful than the web alternative.

  13. You obviously didn’t also figure out that Rhapsody also has Maria Cantwell, best-babe Senator in the country as an asset. Keep it local, keep it Seattle, keep it Cantwell, and obviously keep it Rhapsody. Or maybe this Kristie person doesn’t realize a bigger picture is in play here. Oh, LA based: well, that does say it all.

  14. I like Spotify free.  It works great on the PC. Rhapsody doesn’t have a free option like Napster did.
    However, I don’t agree with how the pricing was awarded to Spotify.
    If you have more than 1 mobile device, Spotify quickly gets expensive at $9.99 each. If your family has 2 or 3 devices, Rhapsody stays at $14.99 while Spotify charges the full $9.99 for each.   That is a big disadvantage.

    That said, I had Napster before Rhapsody purchased them and had nothing but problems when they converted on my older MP3 devices.  Left a sour taste in my mouth.

    BTW.. the social site aspect to me is a negative for spotify. Had to turn that off in facebook.  Do I really want people to know what I’m listening to? Who cares.

  15. I am having real problems with Rhapsody / Napster. There are so many tracks missing which are there with Spotify. I have just had a call with Rhapsody and they admit they have problems . They say the search engine does not work correctly and they also admit there are many tracks missing which is a real shame as I have been with Napster for years and have enjoyed the service but since the move to Rhapsody they have had issue after issue which has really brought the service down.

  16. I’m not sure if I agree with the price comparison, at least for my habits. Rhapsody is $14.99 if you want to authorize 3 devices (which I do: two iPhones and an inexpensive MP3 player for travel).  For one device, Rhapsody and Spotify are the same price: $9.99.  With Rhapsody I pay $14.99 for all three, whereas with Spotify I’d have to pay for at least two accounts in order to simultaneously stream to the iPhones, and my MP3 player would be useless.

    As much as I’d like to be able to share playlists, I think I’m going to have to stick with Rhapsody for now.

  17. I used Spotify for a little while when it first became available to US users. I found at the time that I wasn’t able to find some of the tracks on Spotify that Rhapsody had, which were US artists. There were many things I liked about the service, though, and there is definitely a sexiness to Spotify. The vast majority of my friends use it, though I have to admit, the Facebook integration is quite annoying. However, the two are still similar enough that for me the selling point for Rhapsody was integrating my subscription with my existing Verizon bill. Convenience at its finest.

  18. You are absolutely wrong about the Mobile Application. Spotify comes out way ahead because it supports far more mobile platforms than Rhapsody like Windows Mobile and Symbian AND none of those devices need to have wifi or data connectivity to play music thanks to the Offline Mode feature.

    1. Spotify does not work at all with the older Logitec Squeezebox players (like the Duet) and the App for the newer Touch is (pardon the pun) touch and go. List of songs and entire albums will only play one or a couple tracks and will just sit silently until you advance away from a song it won’t play. Also, the Spotify Touch app and the Onkyo applet do not have nearly as many selection options as do the Rhapsody apps. For instance, you can’t select from the top 100 albums, just those in the What’s New section.

  19. I tried using spotify as my friend kept arguing it was better than rhapsody but other than the pricetag and better sound quality, spotify is simply not as good.

    With rhapsody I don’t have to worry if my mom wants to listen to music at home on the iPad while I’m at school or driving streaming music through my phone where as with spotify it was annoying when all of a sudden it would stop playing.

    One thing I did like though was the ability to stream to any one device I wanted (for example,: my mom’s or sister’s) iPhone where as with rhapsody I could only stream to my iPad, iPhone and one more device. I would have to deauthorize one of the devices if I ever wanted to use a fourth device (not simultaneously)

    I am still considering going back to rhapsody for next month.

  20. I’ve used Rhapsody for awhile and wanted to give Spotify a shot. I found that there are several things I found that Rhapsody does much better. 
    1- The web version of Rhapsody is in many ways superior to the desktop App of Spotify. Who wants to install another application? Do you install one for Pandora? Rhapsody’s site is easy to navigate, find music, give information about the artists (as explained in the article), and have music playing on a side playlist all at the same time. 
    2- There’s no true “library” in spotify. It’s like a giant playlist – which isn’t what I want in a subscription service. I want it to be like I’m buying my music – seeing lists of artists in my library or by genre. This let’s me quickly get to a list of the artists I like so I can listen to their music. This is such a huge detractor that I’m less than interested that Spotify will show me my own music since I can’t navigate it well. 
    3- The iPhone application completely failed for me with Spotify. I tried 3 times and all three it would play one song then quit. Restarted the phone and the same problem. With Rhapsody I can more quickly get to the music I want to play (see second point) and it generally plays the music well. It’s not perfect though – on occasion it will refuse to play a song. 

    I went into trying Spotify optimistic because of all the press it’s gotten. I came away very disappointed and have already canceled my trial. 

    1. 1. yes I do have a app for pandora its on my phone, quit wining its not like todays 500gb + hard drives cant handle it.
      2. Ok I will admit that rhapsody dose a better job there, but its not like spotifys system is terrible, search a artist, click on the artist name and bam every album by the artist. 
      3.Never had a problem and if there was a problem its not like they can fix it over night, have you ever done coding and then had this odd little bug when everything is working? its a pain to find and then you have to fix it without breaking everything else. 
      4? you do know spotify has a free version, why would you start with a trial, play with the free version before you commit to anything. 

  21. Rhapsody also does not have a desktop application for Mac users. They can only stream from Rhapsody’s website. An important selling point for Spotify in my opinion.

  22. You completely missed some really big points. 1) you state that spotify lets you download to more offline devices… No. Rhapsody is also 3. Furthermore on rhapsody all 3 can access the service at the same time. That point should go to rhapsody. 2) most people are irritated by the social feature of spotify. Why is that a plus? 3) You said that spotify won pricing because it’s most expensive option was cheaper…. That’s an awful way to judge something. You have to evaluate what you get for your money~at which point rhapsody comes out on top. 4) The free version of spotify doesn’t really count as membership.. It’s constant advert bombardment and occasional music playing on a computer only. This section should also be re-evaluated. 5) under limitations for the reason spotify won you listed more access under one account which even in your own article you admit is untrue. Re-assign these points and Rhapsody is te one on top

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