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Journal Journal: Another major music store offers unrestricted MP3s

When I started the RealNetworks Rhapsody software this morning, I discovered a cause for some celebration by anybody who supports DRM-free music purchases: the Rhapsody store is now offering some unrestricted MP3 downloads. At present only about 5000 albums (roughly 50000 songs) are available, but that is just an initial offer - I haven't even found an announcement anywhere - and they claim to be working to increase the number of MP3 tracks available.

The MP3s are encoded at 256kbps, and cost no more than the standard DRM-crippled music (which is also 256kbps) at 89c/song for subscribing members, or 99c/song for non-subscribers (the subscription gives the ability to listen to streamed music on demand, starting at $13/month). Prices are US dollars, and I don't know whether the service is available internationally.

The bad news: downloading the music requires running the Rhapsody player software (version 4, just released) and at present it's only available on Windows. Online streaming is available to other OSes through (works in Firefox, via a plugin) but the cross-platform Real Player software cannot access the music store, and last I tried it wouldn't run in wine.

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