Subscription music pioneer Rhapsody released a new version of its Android app Tuesday that comes with an interesting twist: Instead of just focusing on the discovery of new music, it is highlighting some of the tunes you already know, at times you might want to hear them.
Rhapsody’s Replay functionality analyzes a user’s listening patterns and then suggests their favorite tunes based on the time and day. So if you like to wake up with your favorite Swedish pop tunes, then Rhapsody will pick up on it after a couple of days and suggest those songs in the early morning. And the service takes a very literal approach to recommendations: It doesn’t recommend songs that are somewhat like your favorites, but instead are the exact tracks you previously tuned into.
Sounds a bit like good old radio programming, doesn’t it? However, it’s also a good indicator of a problem that all of the music subscription service have to deal with: A catalog of millions of songs may be great for active choices of curation – but it doesn’t by itself provide a great leanback experience. That’s why Spotify and Rdio have been working on adding Pandora-like radio functionality to their services, and that’s also why Spotify apps such as Soundrop have proven to be so successful.
Rhapsody’s Replay approaches that problem from a bit of a different angle, but the idea to surface familiar content might just work: After all, music works very differently than video, and people tend to go back to the songs they love over and over again.
Rhapsody was one of the first companies to offer subscription music in the U.S., but it has in recent years being overshadowed by newcomers like Spotify. The company made a number of acquisitions over the years, and most recently acquired the assets and customer base of Napster a year ago.