Thursday, June 19, 2014

T-Mobile and Rhapsody Launch Streaming-Music Service unRadio

Samantha Murphy Kelly/Mashable

T-Mobile is bringing its "un-carrier" mantra to Internet radio: The company is teaming up with music company Rhapsody to launch unRadio, an ad-free music-streaming service that lets you play music on-demand for as long as you'd like, without running up your mobile bill.

While the music-streaming industry is inundated with competition (e.g. Spotify, Pandora and most recently, Amazon Prime Music), unRadio promises a different approach. And based on the offering, it actually seems different.

unRadio is free for T-Mobile's Simple Choice customers, which includes those with an unlimited phone and 4G LTE data plan for about $80 a month. T-Mobile customers without unlimited data can get the music-streaming service for $4 — it's a far cry from other services that run about $10 a month. Put another way, that's $72 in savings each year. It's $5 a month for non-customers.

T-Mobile said the move is to eliminate data-suck anxiety. In theory, you could use unRadio for a month straight, and it'll never affect your bill. The news comes at a time when 53% of U.S. smartphones are streaming music right now, according to T-Mobile, and many users worry constantly that streaming music on their data plan will rack up costs at the end of the month.

Coming to iOS, Android and the desktop web next week, the music-streaming service gives you unlimited skips, allows you to preview the next song that's about to play (in case you want to skip ahead), and even lets you save songs for future listening when you're offline (think airplane and subway commutes).

And there are no ads. You'll never be interrupted with audible commercials or visual ads. Another nice perk is that unRadio lets you pick the music you want to hear, instead of letting the system pick for you.

The library comes with tens of millions of songs, as well as other common streaming-service offerings, such as giving a song a thumbs up or thumbs down, so it learns your preferences. There's also a Shazam-like feature called TrackMatch that lets you identify songs (e.g. while out at a bar or on TV); you can even create stations around them, too.

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