Rhapsody is a digital music service that lets you listen to any song you want, wherever you are. Which is pretty great, but it didn’t just spring into existence fully formed. It all began in 1999 with a company called Listen.com, a San Francisco start-up that set out to build a directory of all the legally-obtainable music on the Internet. Although the majors and a lot of indie labels hadn’t yet made their catalogs available online, there were already hundreds of thousands of tracks to play or buy, and Listen.com developed tools to make it easy to navigate through that overwhelming jungle of choice: a style tree with over 500 different musical genres; key artists, albums and tracks in each of those genres to help you figure out where to begin, and so on.
In 2001, Listen built the first version of Rhapsody, an all-you-can-eat subscription service that launched with about 30,000 (mostly classical) tracks. Today we’re closer to 10 million, in every genre you can imagine – though we’re still arguing about whether glo-fi counts as its own style.
Major label catalogs were added throughout 2002, along with custom radio features and the ability to purchase individual tracks. Later years saw the launch of rhapsody.com; the introduction of a To Go tier that gave subscribers the ability to load compatible mp3 players with as many Rhapsody tracks as they wanted; integration with networked stereo components and set-top boxes; and Rhapsody apps for mobile phones. Each innovation has made it easier for Rhapsody customers to take millions of tracks with them wherever they might find themselves.
RealNetworks acquired Listen.com and the Rhapsody service in August of 2003. In 2007, RealNetworks formed Rhapsody America, a joint venture with MTVNetworks, and in 2010 the company spun off as an independent entity: Rhapsody International Inc.
But whatever our letterhead says, we’re still the same people, with the same mission: to help you find and play the music you already know you love instantly, and to turn you on to all kinds of other music you’re going to love, too.