Rhapsody gets more social, tunes into Facebook friends

Rhapsody is rolling out a new slate of social features today, including the ability for users to create profile pages, share playlists on social networks, follow other Rhapsody members and find out what their Facebook friends are listening to, whether or not those friends are using the music service.

The upgrade in the Seattle company’s web experience comes amid increasing competition from socially powered music services. Spotify made a splash with its U.S. launch in July, and Facebook itself is reported to be launching a music platform in partnership with Spotify, MOG and Rdio.

Rhapsody, which has more than 800,000 paying subscribers, is rolling out the features as a way for its users to discover new music by seeing what their friends listen to. The company has been developing and testing the new social features for some time, and sees them as the logical next step for the service, said Mark Keeney, Rhapsody’s marketing VP.

“It’s a natural progression,” Keeney said.

Rhapsody is using the Facebook Connect technology to tap into the social network, including the ability to see the music section of their friends’ Facebook profiles, and then play that content on Rhapsody.

Facebook “Like” buttons now appear throughout the Rhapsody web interface, including artist and album pages, showing up in users’ Facebook news feeds when they click. Those users’ Facebook friends will have the option to sample the track in Rhapsody or sign up for a trial of the service if they’re not members.

User profile pages in Rhapsody automatically populate with information such as the latest songs they’ve been listening to, and the artists they listen to most. A “My Radio” feature will let members hear a stream of the latest songs a friend has been listening to.

Rhapsody is also working to extend the features to its mobile apps.

A former RealNetworks unit, Rhapsody spun off as an independent company last year. Its basic subscription service costs $10/month and includes access to more than 12 million songs.

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