Yahoo! Music Subscribers Sent to Rhapsody

Shutting down the Yahoo! service reinforces fears that the music can die.

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Another music subscription service has bitten the dust. Yahoo! is giving up its Music Unlimited service, in which users paid a flat monthly fee to listen to all the tunes they wanted.

Yahoo!'s decision underscores fears that the music can just go away.

Yahoo! subscribers can keep their music through another service, Rhapsody from RealNetworks. But now they'll have to pay $13 a month instead of the $9 they were paying at Yahoo! Many won't make the switch.

That has always been a key hurdle for the subscription services. They offer a convenient "jukebox in the sky," as RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser calls it. You can access the music from Web-connected PCs and a sprinkling of other devices, such as TiVo. But quit paying, and the music dies.

A second hurdle is getting the music to play on portable devices. Neither Yahoo! nor Rhapsody music can play on iPods.

That said, I've been trying Rhapsody in recent months, and I like the service. It offers a great selection of music for a reasonable price. But I hesitate to put too much time into picking tunes and organizing playlists. There's that lingering fear that, in the long run, it'll go "poof" and be gone.


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