MTV Folds Music Service Into RealNetworks’ Rhapsody

MTV will combine its Urge music service with RealNetwork’s Rhapsody music service in a joint venture, the WSJ ($) reports. The technical issues may be a little sticky because the two have different DNAs — Rhapsody’s is home grown while Urge was built specifically to work with Microsoft’s media software. But conceptually it makes sense, since both have the same business model: Consumers “rent” all the music they want for a monthly fee.

That’s a concept that makes plenty of sense on paper but has yet to sway many customers. RealNetworks never broke out the exact number of Rhapsody subscribers and stopped giving rough estimates a couple years ago. Yahoo and Napster offer their own versions of the same concept, and have also met with limited success.

When MTV announced Urge at the beginning of 2006, the idea was that the cable channel was finally going to use its marketing prowess to sell customers on the idea, which takes a lot more getting used to than iTunes’ buy-it-for-a-buck sales pitch. That marketing blitz never materialised, but the dream hasn’t died yet: WSJ quotes sources who are sure that “MTV plans to promote the service heavily on its television channels.”