Let's assume for a minute that you have an iPhone. The following is now an option:

1. Fork over $10 a month to Rhapsody, the

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If You Have an iPhone and You Listen to Music You'll Want to Know About Rhapsody's Updated App

Let's assume for a minute that you have an iPhone. The following is now an option:

1. Fork over $10 a month to Rhapsody, the Seattle-based music subscription service. This will give you access to their entire collection of 9 million songs on your computer.

2. Download the updated Rhapsody app which was released on Monday. Just like with the previous version of the app, you can be walking around town and decide, "Hey, I want to listen to the Derek Trucks Band album, Live at Georgia Theater," and click through and stream the record on demand. Now you can take it a step further.

3. Create a playlist called, "Georgia Theater" or whatever. Click on the album, and add it to the playlist. Now download the playlist. These songs are now available to be listened to whether or not you're online or not. It's a lot like buying an album from iTunes while you're online and bringing them with you when you're not. Except for now you can download as many tracks as you like, and only pay $10 a month.

This isn't perfect. The app is a little clumsy. Like other subscription services, there are some songs -- like "Debra" on Beck's Midnight Vultures -- that you can't download with the album (most likely a copyright/digital rights issue, as it doesn't come through on Zune Pass, either), and most frustrating of all, you have to create playlists, you can't just click the record you want and hit download. But that's about to change.

"(Playlists) was starting with what was the easiest to do to begin with," says Matt Graves, a spokesperson for Rhapsody. "They are now working on an update that will have the ability to download individual albums, and individual songs."

I'm not the kind of guy who needs to own my mp3s--or in the case with Rhapsody, AAC files--but I do like to have them downloaded. I don't want to stream music and have it be interrupted by a drop in service, if I can help it. This is why Zune Pass was so appealing. But the knock on Zune Pass is that you have to have a Zune. This update is critical to those of us who already have iPhones, because it works on the device we already have (apps for Android and Blackberry are in the works).

"One of the biggest knocks against subscription services from the start has been, 'yeah, but it doesn't work on my iPod,'" says Graves. "As long as there's been a Rhapsody there's been an iPod and for those 8.5 years, the answer has been 'No, it doesn't work on the iPod.' Now the answer is finally yes."

A couple years ago Rick Rubin talked to New York Times Magazine about subscription services, and how he thought they were what was going to save the music industry.

"In this new world, there will be a virtual library that will be accessible from your car, from your cellphone, from your computer, from your television. Anywhere," Rubin told The Times. "The iPod will be obsolete, but there would be a Walkman-like device you could plug into speakers at home. You'll say, 'Today I want to listen to ... Simon and Garfunkel,' and there they are. The service can have demos, bootlegs, concerts, whatever context the artist wants to put out. And once that model is put into place, the industry will grow 10 times the size it is now."
It hasn't happened that way, but new toys like Rhapsody's app are pushing us in that direction.
 
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