RealNetworks, MTV & Verizon Announce New Music Service, But Does Anybody Need It?

Aug 21st, 2007 | By | Category: Digital Music, iPhone, iPods & Portable Media Players

RealNetwork, MTV and Verizon Wireless today announced they are teaming to create a “digital music experience” that consumers can access via their PC, portable music device or mobile phone. According to the three companies, the service promises to unite the best of RealNetworks’ Rhapsody service and MTV’s URGE music service. Verizon Wireless’ V CAST Music will become the mobile platform for the integrated Rhapsody service.

MTV Networks and Real are forming a new company, Rhapsody America, whose offering will be the exclusive digital music service for Real and for MTV Networks’ brands in the United States. Real and MTV Networks, through their Rhapsody America venture, have formed a long-term, groundbreaking and exclusive relationship with Verizon Wireless, in which the companies will be partners in bringing consumers digital music to their PCs and over the air to their mobile phones. Through the relationship with Verizon Wireless, Rhapsody will be fully integrated with VCAST Music, delivering a superior music service across multiple consumer devices.

While the triumvirate brings together major players, it’s not clear that by combining they will be able to offer something that can compete with iTunes. People haven’t shown much interest in MTV’s URGE “digital music experience”, and the mobile music supergroup faces a stiff challenge trying to provide the tight integration that Apple provides with its iTunes/iPod/iPhone system.¬†

Company Statements

“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 Judy McGrath, Chairman and CEO of MTV Networks. “Any time we can partner with industry leaders like this to create a new music proposition, everyone wins, especially the audience.”

“Today’s announcements represent a sea-change in the digital music market,” said Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO, RealNetworks. “By partnering with MTV Networks, home of the most storied brands in music history, and the market’s leading wireless company, Verizon Wireless, we’ll make Rhapsody the premier digital music service that delivers great music to millions of consumers whenever and wherever they want.”

“By bringing together the cultural and musical heritage of the MTV Networks family with the functionality of Rhapsody and the reach of V CAST Music, it’s like we’ve put the best lead singer, drummer and guitarist all on the same giant stage, allowing music fans to experience the purest music play in any way they want,” said Van Toffler, President of MTV Networks Music & Logo Group. “The new Rhapsody will build on the musical curation of URGE and have the marketing power of MTV, VH1 and CMT behind it, ensuring this new platform is front and center in the hearts and minds of music lovers.”

John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Verizon, said, “Our commitment to innovation and making V CAST Music the #1 mobile music service in the country has led to today’s momentous announcement. Verizon’s alignment with these two great companies ‚Äî MTV Networks’ music and youth marketing expertise with RealNetworks’ acclaimed service and technology ‚Äî promises to propel digital music into an exciting new future. 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 ‚Äî whether sitting in front of a computer screen or on-the-go with a mobile device.”

Real, MTV Networks and Verizon Wireless will leverage their complementary strengths to bring the new service to market and back it up with an aggressive advertising and promotional campaign. Verizon Wireless will market Rhapsody through its extensive network of Verizon Wireless Communications Stores nationwide when the service launches on mobile phones. Rhapsody will become the music service of choice across MTV Networks’ MTV, VH1, and CMT brands and their myriad of online youth-culture touch points. On-air integration for the new service will begin next week and Rhapsody will also be integrated into the fabric of MTV’s marquee event, the Video Music Awards airing live from Las Vegas on September 9th.

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