by Joseph Weisenthal

Web Services Face Reliability Challenge

from the locked-out dept

While Apple's iTunes continues to dominate the online music space, a small segment of the music listening population has opted to go with subscription music services like Rhapsody and Napster. For the most part, however, the uptake of these services has been minimal. It seems people still want to own their music, although arguably the concept of ownership is meaningless when DRM prevents listeners from doing what they want with their legally purchased music. One of the problems with subscription music services is that if your internet connection goes out, then your music library becomes unavailable to you, which is an experience that many Rhapsody users are now going through. According to the company, a number of people have been locked out of their accounts, and it can't figure out why. For some customers, this has been going on for a few weeks, with no solution in sight. Meanwhile, in a related situation, Google is apparently experiencing some growing pains associated with its newly-released paid productivity apps. A number of customers are have complained that reliability has been poor, or at least worse than the 99.9% uptime they were promised. Again, this is one of the hazards associated with any internet-based service. None of this is to suggest that the concept of web services is flawed; there's no doubt that more and more software and services will be delivered this way. But at this early stage of the game, there are still some risks for those who buy into this model.

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  • identicon
    Raptor85, 30 Mar 2007 @ 8:51am

    That's not it's only problem...

    I've had rhapsody for a very long time, and since i had a very stable internent connection it was a very cheap alternative to cd's for the amount of music I listened too, and since my interests in music change quite often I wasnt too hurt by the fact i couldnt keep it. Years ago when I started my account, the program worked great, all songs in the catalog played just fine, and my $9 a month unlimited account actually seemed unlimited. It also didnt seem to bother with DRM to burn to the cd if you bothered to purchase a cd through it, and it ran great under WINE. Then version 3 came out, HORRIBLE interface, wont run under WINE because of it's drm requirements, and half of the songs on my playlist suddenly turned "purchase only", so you're paying $9 a month for a bunch of 30 second previews now instead of the full songs, and if you want the other songs you had before you get to pay full price per track for them, or $10 for the full cd (90% of my library became unavailable for "unlimited users")

    Needless to say, don't have them anymore, ill stick with independant music now that you've taken away the last decent way i had to listen to everything else, thanks for saving me some money Real !

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2007 @ 10:12am

    The more DRM they force down people's throats, the larger the userbase for torrent sites grows . . .

    It's a shame they really didn't think any of this copyright 'protection' stuff through. They'd have realised how stupid it is to force someone to buy something repeadiatley. Stupid if only because most people say 'screw you' and just not buy it.

    This isn't Civilisation where just havng 'fundamentalism' means your populations are happy. This is reality, and people with sticks tend to not put up with crap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    theOngman, 30 Mar 2007 @ 10:27am

    DRM isn't bad in comparison

    DRM from itunes isn't bad compared to napster or rhapsody where if your internet cuts out or if you miss a monthly payment your library is gone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jon Healey, 30 Mar 2007 @ 12:16pm

      Re: DRM isn't bad in comparison

      "Your library is gone"? Hardly. That's as silly as saying that your DVDs disappear when your cable TV goes out. Rhapsody et al. are music access services, not music collection services. They're for people with huge appetites for music and low tolerance for radio. Yes, it's been too glitchy, and you can criticize it for that. But to complain about DRM here is analogous to complaining about conditional access on cable TV. You're not buying songs for your library, you're buying access to a jukebox that you can play to your heart's desire -- when it works. Personally, my downtime as a subscriber hasn't been large enough to drive me away. It's better than my DSL line, that's for sure.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    abulafa, 30 Mar 2007 @ 12:25pm


    Rhapsody notwithstanding, the Zune subscription service (and Yahoo in my previous experience) handles this exactly right (as much as DRM can be exactly right): your music is downloaded and licensed for a 30-day cycle. If you don't connect and re-validate it for 30 days, it doesn't cease to exist, it simple stops playing until you can get to an internet connection again. Once you do, it doesn't re-download the library, it relicenses which takes (for about 20G of music in my experience) about 3 minutes.

    Rhapsody, as noted above, has many other problems than this. I will agree, though, that people who aren't me seem to prefer to illusion of ownership the iTunes a la carte model provides.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ronda Scott, 30 Mar 2007 @ 4:43pm

    RE: Web Services Face Reliability Challenge

    Full disclosure: I am a public relations manager for Rhapsody.

    I have to take exception with the idea that Rhapsody had "no solution in sight" for the service issue first reported at and again referenced here. The problem which affected a fraction of one percent of our users was identified and fixed before this story contribution was even posted.

    That aside, Rhapsody allows music playback both on and off line depending on user preference. Users can choose to keep their library stored locally on their hard drive, enabling off line music listening but requiring more disk space. Users with limited HD space can opt for streaming their music instead, if that's what works best for them.

    I appreciate the comment space for clarifications. Thanks!

    Ronda Scott

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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