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Rolling Stone Finally Discovers The Web

 Rolling-stone-logo

In an overdue move, Rolling Stone is taking back control of its flagship web site from RealNetworks, and will be relaunching it in January with new community and customization features. 10 years ago during the web's infancy, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner leased RollingStone.com to the more net savvy RealNetworks. The result has been a site not well connected to the magazine and traffic stuck around 2 million monthly unique visitors. 

While real profits from content on the web are still in the future, Wenner appears to have realized that it's time to play catch up before its too late. “I think there was the concept of, let’s partner with a company that had experience in this space early on,” Wenner media head Steven Schwartz told MediaWeek. “A lot of companies spent a lot of money in trial and error mode.” But, he amitted, “It hasn’t evolved nearly as much as we’d like it to.”

The Rolling Stone defection represents another small blow to Real; who have failed to gain traction in recent months with a number of iniatives.


Kurt Cobain Returns From Dead For Guitar Hero 5

It was both creepy and fun when Fred Astaire danced with a Dirt Devil; and then there are the various things that Frank Sinatra has come back from the grave to sing for.  But the practice of reincarnation for commercial purposes gets raised to a whole new level when Kurt Cobain takes a walk from the other side to perform on stage in Guitar Hero 5.  After all, this is the man who wrote in his suicide note, "The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I'm having 100% fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage."

If that wasn't enough for you, there's video of Guitar Hero reincarnating Jimmy Hendrix after the jump.

Continue reading "Kurt Cobain Returns From Dead For Guitar Hero 5" »


Live Nation's Rapino Braves Two Investor Conferences

Normally Live Nation Prez Michael Rapino at two investor conferences would be guaranteed yawn,  But given the shaky summer the concert industry is having, the proposed merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster and new revelations of the industry's coziness with ticket scalpers, these two personal appearances could actually be quite lively.

Young Master Rapino will be hitting the stage at:

  • Livenation221205 Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2009 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference on Sept. 9 at The Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey. (Is it really OK for a fresh of the federal dole B of A to wine and dine investors and the media at the Ritz?)
  • Goldman Sachs Communacopia XVIII Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at the Goldman Sachs Conference Center in New York.

In case making a living gets in the way of you catching this bit of theatre, a live audio webcast of both presentations will be available on the LN website for two weeks.

Vote: Is Live Nation Lowering The Value Of Concerts?


Vote: Is Live Nation Lowering The Value Of Concerts?

The mantra that, despite falling revenue from recordings, bands could always make money from live shows may ring a little less true thanks to Live Nation.  The concert giant's repeated $10 and $15 ticket promotions were aimed at filling empty seats in a tough concert summer.  But it also may lowering the value of all live concerts.

Will fans now resist paying more than $10 or $15 to see a live show; or is this what most concerts were really worth in the first place?

More: Live Nation's Rapino Braves Two Investor Conferences

Highlights From The Bandwidth Conference

  • "YouTube videos are the gateway drug," said a professional music videographer at Bandwidth. "I think most bands do embrace the bootleg model as a way to get people to the pro sites."
"The technology is really there to empower the consumer and the artist," said Gracenote VP Stephen White. "It is about creating better experiences around music, and we think the same is true for movies, TV, and other entertainment content."
  • "There are tons of new models around recorded music; most haven't worked," Jambase's David Rosenheim said. "People are consuming more music than ever before. Unfortunately for the labels, they are not paying for it."

Creative Allies plans to soon launch a test version of software that lets artists hire fans to create anything from concert posters and t-shirt designs to music videos and biographies, according to the startup.

via AFP

More Music News Mon. 8/31/09: Hendrix, Scarcity, Pirate Party, Twitter & More

  • Hendrix Sony Music's Legacy and Experience Hendrix L.L.C. have agreed to a catalog licensing deal that sets the stage for a 2010 worldwide campaign to make Jimi's music, including classics, never before heard archive recordings, and filmed concerts available through every type of media. (press release)
  • Major Record Labels Sorta, Maybe Embracing Direct-To-Fan Projects. (Techdirt)
  • Live Nation offers more all-in concert tickets this week for $10 and $15 with (they say) no service fees, this Wednesday at livenation.com. (press release) Vote in our Live Nation ticketing poll here.
  • Opinion: Digital, Scarcity And The Impact On The Music Biz. Glenn Peoples explores: Has the digital copy increased the value of the scarce physical event? Or has the drop in revenue in the era of the digital copy unlocked the value that already existed? (Billboard)
  • Pirate A former German MP switches to the Pirate Party. "Herbert Rusche, the co-founder of the German Green Party and former member of the German Parliament, has joined the Pirate Party. Rusche praises the party for its open structure and its efforts to protect people’s privacy and fundamental rights. Those issues, he says, are the ones established parties fail to address." (TorrentFreak)
  • Twitter Could Be The Next MySpace (And That’s Not A Compliment) (paidContent)
  • Nokia's Comes With Music enters South Africa with "a year of free music". (MyBroadband)

REWIND: The New Music Industry's Week In Review

Hypebot Favicon To celebrate our 5th Anniversary, Hypebot is re-posting some of it's top articles: Where You Make Music MattersThe Best Of Bylin's InterviewsInfiltrating Columbia Records Site With An Anti-Label AdThe Musical Middle Class

Project Showtime: Secret Deal Between Irving Azoff, Ticketmaster & Ticket Scalpers Revealed

Irving Azoff and Ticketmaster were reprotedly involved in a plan to combine major secondary ticketing services along with other entertainment industry assets just months before Azoff was damning the ticket scalpling in the press and distancing himself from the practice. 

Azo  According to a damning Wall Street Journal article, the deal codenamed Project Showtime only fell apart because of distrust between the participants.  But that was not before the sTicketsecondary ticket outfits were given hundreds of premium tickets in a backroom deal to scalp for Azoff client Van Halen's reunion tour that reportedly netted the band an additonal $1 million.

The proposed alliance with secondary ticketers was hatched at a meeting led by Azoff in the summer of 2007. "I always knew we'd end up in a room together," he reportedly told the Hollywood gathering. "I just thought it would be a courtroom."  Present were senior executives of AEG Live, Ticketmaster and

Continue reading "Project Showtime: Secret Deal Between Irving Azoff, Ticketmaster & Ticket Scalpers Revealed" »


Spotify iPhone App Aproved

Spotify tight logo   Applelogo

Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek has confirmed that Apple has approved it's iPhone and iPod touch streaming application.  The official status comes at a key time for both companies.

Apple has come under increased scrutiny for rejecting select applications that some see as competing with iTunes and other Apple products. Spotify smartly made iTunes the download partner for its app, but the approval still hints at a new attitude for Apple.

The approval gives Spotify a major additional advantage as it prepares to enter more territories including China and the United States. The US rollout could happen as early as September.


Music Blog Network MOG Gets $5 Million More

Mog newest Music blogging network MOG has closed a $5 million equity financing round lead by Menlo Ventures. Long-time investors Simon Equity Partners and Scott Jones have also participated to the round and will be joined on the board by Sonja Hoel Perkins of Menlo Ventures. MOG has raised $12.5 million dollars in funding to date.

A number of other blog networks also hope to become the go to place on the web for music; but while some have gained eyeballs, most are no where near profitability. MOG hopes to circumvent that fate by having the majority of its content created free by fans and then hand curated. The approach is finding success among readers with the site getting 8 million unique visitors a month reading the 6,000 new music blog posts generated weekly.  Current advertisers include Scion, TAG (P&G), Xbox, Nike, and LG.

Continue reading "Music Blog Network MOG Gets $5 Million More" »


Update: Motel 6 Free Rooms For Bands Promotion

Motel 6 Don't start packing the van yet.

The announcement earlier in the week about Motel 6 giving select touring acts free hotel rooms via a promotion with publisher Primary Wave was short on details and Hypebot readers wanted to know more

A spokesperson from Primary Wave responded to our inquiry: "You don’t have to be a Primary Wave Artist artist to get involved.  In fact, none of the participating bands are our artists.  That said, we aren’t taking submissions for the second leg yet. but we will make an announcement when we are."  I'll try to keep you updated.


Join The Discussion: Content vs. Context

Yesterday I posted a quote from Terry McBride:

Terry mcbride "We are seeing a profound shift from content is king to context as king. With the mobile app revolution in full swing the need to own goes away, the need to access goes way up."

Hypebot readers responded with some passionate and very well though out comments including:  

  • "Context is king in everything. It’s not what you do but the environment in which you do it that ultimately determines success." - Clark Sorley, producer and composer
  • "Immediacy does matter - look at the MJ catalog - would the demand have been met before it waned in the pre-digital era? and the scope thing matters too..." - Dave Davis of Music Media Design

  • "So in other words, my actual music is less important than the 10 billion factors I have no control over? Wow, that's great news. 2009 just got even better." - Justin Boland of Audible Hype
Read more and join the discussion here.

Hypebot Rewind: Where You Make Music Matters

As part of Hypebot's 5th Anniversary, I'm republishing a few of our favorite articles. This recent post postulated that even in a digitally connected world where you make music still matters. It reminds us of the importance of human contact and local scenes to creativity. Both are issues that I believe don't get enough attention.

music & the entertainment economy

I've written before about how where you make music may matter more than you'd think it might in a globally connected world. It's not just the size of the music industry where an artist as located  that matters. In fact, more important appears to be the size of the music scene measured by both the number of musicians and fans.  They both provide the feedback that helps an artist create better music; and great music is where it all begins.

Two charts from Richard Florida's Music & The Entertainment Economy Project at the University of Toronto's Rotman School Of Management illustrate the point. The first looks at the size of various music scenes as measured by the number of artists on MySpace.

Florida Top 20 Cities

When looking at the number of fans that bands based in certain cities have, the rankings shift.

Continue reading "Hypebot Rewind: Where You Make Music Matters" »


More Music News Fri. 8/28/09: BMI $'s Up, Black Radio Rift, Korn Embraces EP, Rock Band Net & More

  • Bmi BMI Has Landmark Year In Fiscal 2009 (FMQB)
  • Rift over royalties:  A bill to make radio stations pay singers divides black artists, leaders. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Korn will release a series of four digital EP's this year rather than an album. (Revivl) I hope you'll see more of this from other bands. It engages the fans more often, lowers the price point and encourages more immediacy.
  • EMI Records: a history in music. (Independent UK)
  • Details on the new Rock Band Network that enables indie bands to sell on the gaming platform. (JoyStiq) Also: Rock Band Crowdsources Song Creation. (Epicenter)
  • Homer's Music, an Omaha-based independent record chain, will close two stores. (Omaha.com)
  • Mufin Launches Mufin Player Pro, Music Player with Interactive 3D Sound Universe - New visual-Votenavigation music player reinvents the traditional list-based management approach. (press release)
  • Vote for Hypebot's SXSW panel "Live Music Online - It's Not Just About Tickets" here and help spread the word.

OurStage & MTV Join For Emerging Artist Program

Ourstage MTV  

MTV and OurStage.com have formed an ongoing partnership to expose emerging artists. In the first  joint venture, musicians in top U.S. markets have been participating in OurStage hosted efforts this summer and receiving exposure through the mtvU Six Flags VMA Tour and the MTV Video Music Awards.


MTV and OurStage will also develop online co-promotions that combine fan enthusiasm with music discovery and the mass audience of MTV and its related networks - MTV2, mtvU, MTV Tr3s.  Additionally, OurStage becomes an additional tool for MTV's music supervision team when sourcing new music for on-air inclusion.

Continue reading "OurStage & MTV Join For Emerging Artist Program" »


Dick Wingate Joins Ted Cohen's TAG Team

Two experienced digital execs have come aboard Ted Cohen's TAG Strategic. The digital entertainment consultancy has formed a partnership with industry veteran Dick Wingate to develop business opportunities and co-consult new clients as TAG’s Head of East Coast Client Relations. Former Channel 5 and Rhythm and Muse executive, Faron McKenzie has also joined TAG as Director of Business Development, Europe to develop new business initiatives alongside TAG’s European MD, Khalid Amin. 

Dick wingate Wingate comes to TAG after holding senior management positions at Columbia, PolyGram and Arista . He also led market development for InTouch's record stores kiosks and was SVP, Content Development, at Liquid Audio.  Most recently Wingate served as President, Media Development & Chief Content Officer for Nellymoser. a provider of media mobile services.

Continue reading "Dick Wingate Joins Ted Cohen's TAG Team" »


Hypebot Revisted: The Best Of Bylin's Interviews


As we continue our 5th Anniversary retrospective, it's only fitting that we revisit some of the work of Hypebot Associate Editor Kyle Bylin's intrepid interviews with some of the music and marketing industries top thinkers.

Continue reading "Hypebot Revisted: The Best Of Bylin's Interviews" »


More Music News Thu. 8/27/09: World's Fair Closes, Kickstart, Target + iTunes, & More

  • Applelogo Sources: Apple to unveil new iPod lineup on September 9 (Apple Insider)
  • Label services firm World's Fair closes. (Billboard)
  • The Social History of the MP3 from Pitchfork contributor Eric Harvey.
  • How Polyvinyl Records uses Kickstart to fund and test market projects. (NY Times)
  • Target is linking with iTunes for exclusive album offers. First up is the new Pearl Jam. (press release)
  • Money in hand RightsFlow secures $1.5 million in financing to expand it service ensuring U.S. music copyright compliance.  Originate Ventures invested in company which offers music copyright licensing, accounting and royalty payment services for online music services, record companies, distributors and artists. (press release)
  • Don't miss Bruce Warila's white paper on The State Of Music Industry Investing
  • MySpace Music CEO and Award-winning DJ Garth Trinidad to speak at Digital Music Forum West in Los Angeles in October. (press release)

Sony Music's Web Efforts Bear Fruit

Sony new logo If its true that the the web rules, then the world's #2 major label group just got closer to the throne. Sony Music Entertainment recently became one of the Web’s top 10 entertainment music destinations according to the independent comScore Media Metrix alongside the likes of AOL, Yahoo!, MySpace Music, MTV Networks, Last.fm and imeem.

During June, Sony Music’s network of artist websites attracted more than 33 million visits and almost 20 million unique visitors. One driver of the success has been Sony's move to employ globalization capabilities that allow fans to automatically view artist sites in their local language, interact with nearby fans and read regional news. Sony also offers points and rewards for fans who visit frequently. They've added recommendations in an on-demand audio player that suggests new tracks based on songs the user has already selected, and an integrated lyrics function.

Google adsense The Sony Pictures Television digital advertising sales  team has attracted AT&T, Old Navy and Virgin Mobile USA.  That's a far different group of advertisers than just last summer when Hypebot was able to place a "Major Labels Are Obsolete" ad on the front page of Sony's manin Columbia Records site paying a mere $3.62 to Google Adssense.

When asked to provide a list of artist sites that they felt were strong examples beyond Britany and Beyonce' of their new intiatives, a Sony spokesperson provided these examples:

Continue reading "Sony Music's Web Efforts Bear Fruit" »


Alice Cooper Goes From Throwing TV's Out Windows To Selling Them


In the UK spot selling Sony TV's, Alice Cooper shares his former love of tossing them out hotel room windows, noting it was easier to do in the '80s because "they bolt them to the wall now." He adds: "I once threw out my own TV. I thought I was in a hotel room." As Adweek noted,  if Alice shows up at a Motel 6 to take advantage of their free hotel rooms for bands promotion, they'd be smart to turn on their "No Vacancy" sign.


Hypebot Revisited: Infiltrating Columbia Records Site With An Anti-Label Ad

What a difference a year makes. It seemed appropriate that today's installment revisiting some of our favorite posts during this blog's 5th Anniversary would be last summer's post "Hypebot Infiltrates Columbia Records Site With Anti-Label Ad".  After all, only yesterday, it was announced that the revamped Columbia site had vaulted into the ranks of the top 10 music sites globally as part of the Sony family of sites.

From July 2008

There are many reasons why corporate and artist sites should not carry advertising. But the most obvious one is that outside ads change the conversation.  In one of the few places that a marketer can completely control their message; they're sharing the stage with outsiders who have a different agenda.

To prove the point,  I placed this ad via Google AdWords in rotation yesterday on the front page of the main Columbia Records web site columbiarecords.com:

Major Labels Are Obsolete
R.I.P. or learn and thrive.
Music. Tech. The New Music Business
Hypebot.com

As of this morning for a mere $3.37 in click thru fees, 6417 people visiting Columbia Records flagship site were delivered the message that this company is obsolete.  Could that have been worth the share of $3.37 that parent Sony BMG will receive?

Continue reading "Hypebot Revisited: Infiltrating Columbia Records Site With An Anti-Label Ad" »


More Music News Wed 8/26/09: Spotify $'s, Robertson Interview, Weather Channel Gets Into Music Biz & More

UPDATED:
  • Zune_logo Top Microsoft Zune Marketing Executive Leaves For Universal Music. (paidContent) Just a month before a new Zune launches...
  • Spotify now making universal more money than iTunes, in Sweden: In a vote of confidence for Spotify's ad-supported streaming business model, it is now bringing in more money for Universal Music in Sweden than iTunes. (paidContent UK) And sadly since Universal is a part-owner, how much will the artists see if this?
  • Greg Sandoval interviews Michael Robertson: Digital music's bad boy was right. (CNet)
  • Indie musician Mia Kim to release fan-funded project "Who Is Sukey Rose?" (press release)
  • Glenn Peoples offers an overview and analysis of recent music industry earnings reports. (Billboard.biz)
  • YouTube to monetize your 15 minutes of fame. (NY Times)
  • The new Vibe names Jermaine Hall as New Editor-in-Chief (press release)
  • Tv The Weather Channel launches new digital music site TheWeatherChannelMusic.com:  Digital site expands musical offerings, features big-name artists and independent musicians showcased on the popular all-weather network. (press release) I can't imagine this being a big earner, but if you subscribe to the retail theory of being available wherever the consumer and their interest is, why not?
  • Mininova Ordered to Remove All ‘Infringing’ Torrents - Mininova has lost its civil dispute with Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN. The judge ruled that Mininova is not directly responsible for any copyright infringement, but ordered it to remove all torrents linking to copyrighted material within three months, or face a penalty of up to 5 million euros. (TorrentFreak)

Universal Goes Direct To Fan With Echospin

Universal    Echopsin

Universal Music Group Distribution has signed with Echospin for direct-to-fan sales and promotions from their artist websites. The two companies say it's the first time that a major music company has empowered its entire roster of artists to sell digital, physical and mobile goods from a single location.

One example of the new platform is the 3 Doors Down “Ultimate Fan Pack,” an Echospin-powered exclusive offer, which includes re-mastered CDs, a re-mastered vinyl LP, a poster, a special autographed “early entry pass,” T-shirt and an instant download of the re-mastered “Kryptonite” MP3 single. 

Echospin chart  

click on image to enlarge

Also upcoming are online stores and offers from Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Kid Cudi, Hollywood Undead, Mary J Blige, Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, Julianne Hough and the Verve Music Group, which will include music and products from Diana Krall, Jamie Cullum, Queen Latifah, Katherine McPhee and Herbie Hancock.

From the press release:

Continue reading "Universal Goes Direct To Fan With Echospin" »


Bruce Warila: The State Of Music Industry Investing

EXCLUSIVE MUSIC INVESTORS WHITE PAPER

"Looking across the spectrum of previous music industry investments...(most) are held hostage to, and will remain a prisoner of, the large label system that  has dominated the music industry for decades."

Old music ecosystem Investment dollars flowing into music startups have dwindled. Some of the drought can be blamed on a poor economy, but the music sector has also seen more than its share of failures and false starts. It may not be easy to  make money investing in music, but Bruce Warila says its far from impossible if you look in the right places.

Hypebot readers may know Bruce Warila from his contributions to Music Think Tank.  He is an entrepreneur, analyst and part time investor that has been working with (including making small investments into) artists and various industry startups over the last five years.

Bruce has put together an exclusive three page white paper for Hypebot that outlines the state of current music industry investing and why he thinks the real investment opportunities have yet to be uncovered. Click here to download the PDF.


WMG Forced To Pay $217,000 For Rapper's Ph.D

Roxanne Congratulations to recent Cornell graduate Dr. Roxanne Shanté, best known for the hip hop "answer" classic, Roxanne’s Revenge.

All $217,000 of Shante's education was paid for by the  Warner Music after Shante forced them to honor a clause in the rapper’s contract which required them to pay for her education for life. "They kept stumbling over their words, and they didn't have an exact reason why they were telling me no," Shante told the Daily News.  WMG only started writing checks after she threatened to go public with her story of a then 14 old rapper who signed a contract with the giant label, sold 250,000 copies of a single that spawned the "answer" rap craze and never received a penny in royalties.

Shante'  believes that Warner considered the clause a throwaway, never believing a teen mother in public housing would ever attend college. ""Dr. Shante's life is inspiring," said hip hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons "She was a go-getter who rose from the struggle and went from hustling to teaching. She is a prime example that you can do anything, and everything is possible."


Hypebot Revisted: The Musical Middle Class

During Hypebot's 5th Anniversary we're revisiting some of my and our reader's favorite articles. This short post represents the beginning of a shift in my thinking and thus many of the post that have followed. It was (and still is) easy and popular to chronicle the downfall of the the old music industry. But what will the new music industry look like?

From October 2007

The digital music revolution has fractured media consumption into niches, shifted creation and distribution from the few to the many and nearly leveled the playing field between the powerful labels and the committed individual.

Welcome To The New Musical Middle Class

Working musician Musicians no longer need a big check from a label to record or a big promotional push to launch a career.  With free software and a computer great music is being created in basements everywhere.  On social networking sites and virally between friends and across the blogosphere unknown music is finding an audience.

Slowly but visibly many of these artists are inventing their careers. Not a career fueled by Cristal and delivered in limos, but rather one earned by practicing their craft, listening to their fans and delivering the results live.

The fans may only number from 20-100,000. But without greedy hands in the middle, the profits are enough. And mercifully, the results of this labor are not as ephemeral as in the past. If the artist's effort continues; fans stay loyal.

There will always be mega-stars and one hit wonders.  But how hopeful it is for musicians, fans and for music, that there is finally a place for a middle class proud of their craft and connected to their audience.  And  what wonderful opportunities await for the middle class of labels and other companies created to serve them.

Also:  A Global Perspective and The New Models. (here)


More Music News For Tues. 8/25/09: Pirate Bay Sinks, UK Restrictions, Bandwidth Confab, Radio $'s & More


  • Pirate bay A legal and financial storm of troubles has hit Pirate Bay in recent days (CNet has a series of stories even throwing it offline for awhile.  Proving the pointlessness of most efforts to stop piracy, traffic at the month old PublicBitTorrent jumped to 2.5 million peers during Pirate Bay's shutdown. (FreakBits)
  • UK proposes cutting Web access to file sharer. (Reuters)
  • This week kicks off the fifth Bandwidth Music | Technology Conference, an annual gathering of music, digital music, and media professionals in San Francisco on August 27 and 28, 2009. Artists Bob Mould and Mike Relm have just been announced as taking part in discussion with Ian Rogers of Topspin.vThe conference also features keynotes Livia Tortella, GM/EVP of Marketing and Creative Media at Atlantic Records; Ian Rogers, CEO of Topspin; Charles Caldas, CEO, Merlin; Jeff Price, founder and CEO of TuneCore and new addition Josh Rosenfeld, Co-Founder and President of Seattle indie label Barsuk Records. 
  • How to discover new and interesting music online. - What do you do when your music library gets stale and you can't stand commercial radio? The Internet offers plenty of ways to discover new music that go beyond listening to a bunch of random stuff to find what you like. Ars explores a few recommendation engines.
  • Lotus trys pay what you want concerts. (Techdirt)
  • Radio ant. The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) has released its report on radio revenue for the second quarter of 2009. Although revenue was down 22 percent from a year ago, the RAB says that there are signs of improvement. (FMQB)

Video: Rhapsody's Proposed iPhone App

Rhapsody on iPhone from Rhapsody on Vimeo.


If approved by Apple, the Rhapsody app for the iPhone/iPod Touch will include these features:
  • The app is a free download from the iTunes App Store, but will require a Rhapsody-To-Go subscription ($14.99/month)
  • Users will have unlimited access to Rhapsody’s library of 8+ million songs from all four major record labels and indie labels
  • Perhaps in a bid to get approval, users can purchase MP3s directly from the app through iTunes rather than Rhapsody's own download store