This is terrible news: MTV is closing its online music service, Urge, and merging its catalog of music with the Rhapsody service from RealNetworks. It’s quite likely that you haven’t heard of Urge unless you’ve explored Windows Media Player and found it listed under the available stores. Why might the death of such a seemingly inconsequential music service be detrimental to music lovers everywhere?
First and foremost, Microsoft’s Zune Marketplace was, and is, essentially the Urge catalog in different clothing. If Urge slips away with little fanfare, it’s possible that the Zune Marketplace will also be affected. It doesn’t seem likely that Microsoft would allow its music player to lose its primary means of sustenance, but some dealing definitely must be going down in the background to assure that users won’t be left out in the cold.
Another disappointment following the closing of Urge stems from its wonderfully generous “free trial” period. For a year or so, users were able to sign up for the Urge music service and enable a 14-day free trial, during which time they were able to legally download a vast amount of music in DRM-protected .WMA form (at 192 KBPS). A large plus was that the user was not required to enter his or her credit card information in order to gain the trial. This was basically an all-you-can-eat service with one large catch – if you didn’t pay for the Urge service before your free trial ended, all of the music you had downloaded would be rendered useless by the power of the almighty DRM (digital rights management). The songs would simply refuse to play, and even during the trial period the songs could not be transferred to any device or be burned onto a CD.
Still, within a two-week period trial users benefited from quick transfer speeds and a large assortment of available songs. Full-length streaming samples (playing at 128 KBPS) were also offered if you wanted to hear songs before downloading. Theoretical possibilities were opened once the protected .WMA files had been downloaded.
Even if the majority of the public does not miss Urge, it’s because they didn’t know what a good thing they had. But isn’t that always the way?