I'm a fan of iterative development practices, but often times I find that the trend leaves me in th dark about new features that I would have like to been notified about. Smaller companies are great about having a prominent product blog that lets you know what's going on... but that doesn't yet seem to be the case with Rhapsody, Napster, iTunes and others.
The latest development that took me by (delightful) surprise was the long awaited introduction of user profiles and community features in Rhapsody. I logged on for the first time in a couple of week - I use a lot of different services, and bounce around between them. I was surprised to see a new module on an artist page of "Fans". A little nosing around and I saw that "My Profile" was now featured in the header. Pretty standard process for setting up a profile, although the optional fields are far too static for my taste to be useful. Check me out at:
Just the fact that I finally have a public profile and can find (and be influenced) by others is a *very* welcome addition. In my opinion, this was always one of the most powerful and compelling aspects of my dearly beloved/departed MusicNow.
They have a couple of interesing treatments in the user profiles as well. They visually treat artists (and the amount you listen to them) as a tag cloud. I like it. They also give visitors your page a quick "meter" of your affinity to different genres (I'm 63% Alternative/Punk ad 27% Rock/Pop). Pretty cool, but I'd like to see more granularity here - down to subgenres/styles.
I'm assuming this launched really recently because the number of "Top Fans" on Artist pages(another good cue taken from MusicNow) is still pretty thin. This also needs to be rolled out to member profile pages.... call it ego, but I want to know what other users I am musically influencing.
If you guys are in Rhapsody - come check it out, and let me know where I can find you.
UPDATE: The Rhapsody community still has a long way to go - in terms of finding other members, enabling them to influence your recommendations/instant playlists, and baseline usability - but I'm glad they are finally getting into the game.