For a change, there's good news about digital music streaming.
Illegal downloading is not as rampant as suspected – at least in the U.S.
Digital music sales are on the rise.
And the veteran subscription music service Rhapsody is now making it so easy (and cheap) to stream content from your "easy chair," signing up has practically become a "no brainer."
New research from the British-based online tracking service musicmetric found that Americans purchased downloads of 150.5 million albums in the first half of 2012 – TWICE what music lovers downloaded illegally (75.5 million) from BitTorrent. The music industry's future looks even brighter when comparing paid and purloined singles. Americans bought 33 times as many songs (698 million) as they pirated (just 21.1 million) in the same period.
In a separate report from Nielsen, word has it that digital music sales in the U.S. are up 15 percent from the same period (through August) last year, with purchases of one BILLION tracks. The total number for all of 2011 was 1.3 billion. This bump-up is credited to the still skyrocketing sales and daily use of devices like smart phones and tablets. And to musicians/labels' increasing savvy in marketing to the on-line and mobile community.
Rhapsodic Waves: Getting their application on every device known to man has always been at the strategic heart of the internet accessed, subscription music service Rhapsody. (Ditto for the free music streaming service Pandora.) This week, Rhapsody launched apps so that users of internet connected LG, Panasonic and Samsung Smart TVs can turn on and tune in to exactly the music you want to hear on your TV set and (hopefully) companion sound system.
Checked out on my Panasonic Viera GT50 set, the maximized for high definition Rhapsody menu/interface is a work of beauty and simplicity, easy to navigate with the TV remote.
Tap into the "new releases" section and up pops literally dozens of choices – from the likes of Miguel, Three Days Gone, Diana Krall, Tori Amos, Papa Roach, DJ Drama, Faith Evans and Brad Paisley. Tap on an album art image and just six seconds later the music starts playing – not just a couple tracks per hour from the artist (as Pandora limits) but the whole album if you want.
Skipping through the album's tracks and making playlists is a snap, too. A bit of biographical info about the artist pops up automatically. Just another button push takes you to other albums and tracks from the same artist stored in Rhapsody's super deep catalogue.
Dazzled by Ms. Amos' new "Gold Dust" set, I then went browsing more than 50 other albums by the piano pop chanteuse, including many complete concert recordings (who knew?) captured during her 2007 "Legs & Boots" tour.
Rhapsody actively promotes a $9.99-per-month service that includes access on a PC, streaming devices like Sonos plus one mobile device like an Apple iPhone or Android phone on which you can also download and store complete albums. The content stays put as long as you keep up the monthly payment.
A bump up to Rhapsody's $14.99 "Premium" service increases the number of connectible computers and mobile devices to three each.
Barely promoted is the $4.99 a month ultra-basic Rhapsody service that works on just one PC.
But grab this – Rhapsody's new smart TV-based , all-you-can-eat music app is ready to load and use at no extra charge with all three subscription tiers.