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Enter, Rhapsody

It's a beautiful day here in New York. The sun is not shining, it's foggy and misting. But it's a beautiful day. A soft day, as you might say in Ireland.

I downloaded a few songs from RealAudio last weekend. And the other day, I got an e-mail invitation to join their free version of Rhapsody. I'd heard of the premium version ( $10/month ) , which gives you an unlimited right to play from their vast library of songs, including entire albums, and was thinking of joining it, now that I have a decent " broadband " connection.

But there's a free version, which I just downloaded. It gives you the right to listen 25 songs a month from their library. And it gives you twenty commercial free internet radio stations.

Among the first songs listened to : " Rich Girl ", Gwen Stefani, " Little Bit of You " , Laura Cantrell, " Cool Water ", Marty Robbins, " Mi Rancho Grande ", Freddy Fender, " Autobahn ", Kraftwerk, " Fields of Athenry" , Paddy Reilly, " I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and a few others by the king of them all, Hank Williams. Tried to sample as eclectic a mix as possible of the stuff that I like, and there was a lot to choose from.

The sound quality is very good, clean. The computer interface is easy to use and 100% intuitive. I think that I will like this very much.

How can they afford to put out a service like this? It is sponsored by Chrysler, whose image appears on screen, so that is a start. And some users will download the songs they hear. And others ( like me ) will be enticed to upgrade to the premium service. With the premium service, you can download any song in the library, and I may do this when I get a portable MP3 player.

This is the future of music, this and satellite radio. Over the air radio in NY and most everywhere else is a waste for music ( except for hip-hop/rap/crackhead music ) . There's some good stuff on NPR and college radio, but I want to listen to music on my schedule, not theirs .

And I want to be able to listen to country music--NYC has not had a country radio station in many years. Rhapsody gives me all I want, lets me be the DJ all the time if I upgrade to premium, and with no commercials in either the free or premium versions.

Like Humphrey Bogart says, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Good job, Real Networks. I may upgrade to premium tomorrow.

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