Rhapsody is giving away 60 day free trials of its on-demand music service in a joint promotion with MTV. The move could help Rhapsody keep its market lead ahead of the rumoured launch of European subscription service Spotify in the U.S.
MTV parent Viacom was a part owner of Rhapsody (along with RealNetworks) until last April, when the company went independent. As part of the spin-out, MTV committed $33 million in free advertising for Rhapsody.
The new promotion will be advertised on MTV shows including “Jersey Shore,” as well as on other Viacom properties like Comedy Central.
Rhapsody has gained about 100,000 subscribers since becoming independent, bringing it back up to its 2008 peak of 750,000. Spotify has about the same number of paying subscribers, plus millions of free users. Spotify has signed deals with two of the four major labels necessary for a U.S. launch.
Rhapsody also faces competition from startups like Rdio and MOG; another competitor, Thumbplay Music, was acquired by radio giant Clear Channel yesterday. Google is also planning to launch some sort of music service, but it will probably be focused on individual song downloads and online storage rather than on-demand streaming like Rhapsody.