Rhapsody Targets Parents With Launch Of A Music-Streaming Service For Kids

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TechCrunch Giveaway: SMART kapp 42

As the demand for digital music streaming services heats up, thanks in large part to Spotify’s traction and Apple’s more recent entry into the market, a number of competitors are working to differentiate themselves from the pack. In the case of the 14-year-old Rhapsody, the company is today going after moms and dads by launching a new service that claims to be the first-ever streaming offering aimed at kids.

That’s more marketing spin than reality, however, as kids’ music is certainly available on competing platforms, including iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Rdio and elsewhere. And like those other services, the children’s music found in Rhapsody KIDS, as the new service is called, is available to any Rhapsody subscriber.

In other words, this isn’t a standalone offering aimed at kids, but is rather a feature within Rhapsody and Napster’s (which Rhapsody acquired back in 2011) subscription services.

The company says that the update will be offered for free to any of the company’s now more than 3 million paying subscribers, first via the Android application with iOS support to quickly follow. (The app update is pending approval from Apple.) Rhapsody currently offers a couple of paid tiers to its service – a more affordable radio offering, and a $9.99/month on-demand service that will now include KIDS.

While Rhapsody KIDS may be more of a new feature than a new product, it does make it easier for parents of little ones to find a decent selection of tunes to entertain their kids than on some rivals’ services. Included at launch is music from Disney, Kidz Bop Kids, Spongebob Squarepants (I was not aware he sings), The Laurie Berkner Band, Caspar Babypants, and more. The section itself offers a kids’ catalog with around 16,000 artists, 80,000 albums and over a million songs.

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This content is hand-selected by editors and vetted to ensure it’s “kid-friendly” music. The editors will also create playlists that parents can add to their KIDS section.

The KIDS feature itself is accessed from the app’s main menu, then parents customize their selection by adding songs, albums, playlists and more from Rhapsody’s catalog to their own KIDS section. The songs in KIDS are automatically downloaded for offline playback to save on data usage and battery.

According to Rhapsody, the idea of doing a kids’ music service had a lot to do with its customer base demographics. As Rhapsody is one of the older streaming services on the market today, its customers tend to be older than those on competing services. Over 50 percent of its customers have kids who regularly share their parents’ Rhapsody accounts, for example. But as parents know, most services that are live today don’t offer simple tools to keep kids from accessing and playing inappropriate content – like songs that feature adult themes or use explicit language.

Rhapsody’s idea to focus on families is not a bad one – nor is it unique in the streaming space. Though, typically, we see parental control options on streaming video services, like Netflix and Hulu which offer special “kids’ sections” and other protections, not on music streaming services.

But as more young children pick up mobile devices at ever-younger ages (even babies!), attempting to attract the interest of parents is a smart move.