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Old-timey music streamer Rhapsody (aka Napster) reaches 2m subscribers

Partly down to 'unRadio' mobile app deals with cell providers

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Antique music streaming service Rhapsody has finally hit two million subscribers after its expansion to include 32 countries worldwide.

Rhapsody, also known as Napster in Europe after it acquired the brand in 2011, has been around since forever in internet terms and was one of the first to use the model of song sales through monthly subscriptions back in 2001. Since then, it has been far outstripped by rivals like Spotify, which counts 10 million paying users, and Deezer, which has five million.

Rhapsody took until late 2011 to get its first million subscribers, but has come on much faster since then, partly due to its popular unRadio service, which will soon be launched in France and several South American countries.

The service lets folks skip songs and get hits without ads as well as the ability to save songs and play them offline. Users can get unRadio on iOS, Android and the web and it comes free to Premier subscribers and at $4.99 to everyone else.

The firm has also struck deals to package unRadio into mobile phone plans. In the US, T-Mobile offers it free in some price plans and for a discounted $4 on others. Rhapsody is planning a similar deal with French mobile firm SFR, where it will be called Napster Découverte. Another deal with Telefónica will see the service launched in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

Rhapsody will need to scramble fast to carve out a space for itself in the music market. Aside from streaming rivals like Spotify, the firm is also likely to be facing fresh competition from firms like Amazon, Apple and Google.

Apple just had its deal to buy Beats okayed by the European Commission, which includes the headphones and music streaming units. Google recently paid around $39m for music streaming firm Songza and already has a strong foothold in the market through video play on YouTube. And Amazon recently introduced a limited music service for its Prime users. ®

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