This huge promotion comes by way of MTV Networks. Until last April, MTV was a part owner of Rhapsody. They, however, went independent and as part of the spin-out, MTV agreed to provide Rhapsody with $33 million in free advertising. MTV will be publicizing the new promotion across their major television, web, and mobile properties. This will be a telling moment for Rhapsody and subscription music in general. It’s not often that services receive this type of mass-media promotion. As well, services never have this long of a free trial.
At present, Sony’s “Music Unlimited” has the longest, non-promotional trial at 30-days. MOG is behind them at 14. Rhapsody's trial usually matches MOG's.
Over the course of the last month, I’ve been researching and writing an essay on the need for extended trials in subscription services and why music services like Slacker are primed to succeed in the sector. Two of the most important elements to have during a trial are effort and ownership. The prevailing wisdom in behavioral economics is that the more labor we put into a project, the higher we’ll value it.
And once we take ownership of said project, it shifts our perspective.
In terms of subscription trials, what this means is that if users are given enough time to put effort into building a music library and take ownership of it, they will value it more. Then it’s much easier for users to rationalize the added expense of a subscription because the cost of losing access to their music will feel much greater than the price to keep it. The problem is that the current time allotted to users during free-trials isn’t enough to activate these psychological biases.
Thus, when a trial ends, it’s much easier for users to distance themselves from the purchase and back away. For those who take Rhapsody up on its 60-day free trial and studiously invest time in it, they will be much more likely to become subscribers. In contrast, those who only fiddle with the service during the trial won’t have put in the labor that leads to a heighted sense of perceived value.
Somewhere between effortlessness and investment lies the secret formula to cracking the subscription puzzle. I hope that Rhapsody will share the results of this promotion, as there’s much to learn from it. Maybe a huge promotion like will help Rhapsody find the thousands of fans its searched for in the last decade.