Microsoft and MTV Networks launched the URGE
online music service last May to little enthusiasm from the online
community. URGE was built directly into Microsoft's Windows Media Player 11
software and offered users the ability to download tracks at a cost of 99 cents
apiece or through a monthly subscription service priced at $9.95 ($15.95
monthly for the ability to download songs to a PC and transfer songs to a media
With Microsoft pouring a lot of
resources and attention into its Zune music player and accompanying Zune
Marketplace, the URGE service has been largely neglected for the past year.
As a result, MTV Networks is closing down URGE to embark on
a new venture. RealNetworks, MTV Networks and Verizon Wireless announced today
that they have created a new company to "create a single, integrated
digital music experience that consumers can access via their PC, portable music
device or mobile phone."
The new company is called Rhapsody America and combines the
best parts of RealNetworks' Rhapsody with MTV's URGE to form a newly
invigorated Rhapsody music service -- Verizon Wireless' V CAST will serve as
the mobile wing of Rhapsody.
"With RealNetworks and Verizon Wireless, we’re creating
a unique and engaging experience that also reflects our own strategy of
allowing fans to go narrow and deep into the musical genres they love,"
said MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath. "Any time we can partner
with industry leaders like this to create a new music proposition, everyone
wins, especially the audience."
Rhapsody is no doubt going full steam ahead in its assault
on the market-dominant iTunes Store.
Apple serves its full range of iPod media players and iPhone with the service
as well as Mac and PC users that listen/view content on their computers.
The new Rhapsody service, however, looks to reach a much
broader audience with the inclusion of V CAST integration. "Together, our
three companies will provide a new, unbeatable digital music experience that
will give every consumer a way to get music quickly and easily -- whether
sitting in front of a computer screen or on-the-go with a mobile device,"
said Verizon executive vice president and chief marketing officer John