First off, if you're in Washington State, check to see if it's time to go and vote in your county primary elections.

Now, on to the news as I break early for lunch and out to vote.

MTV Networks will drop its Urge digital music offering, partnering now with Real Networks' Rhapsody music service (and backed by Verizon Wireless).

ExtremeTech reports...

"the expected partnership [between MTV and Real] will result in a new company, dubbed Rhapsody America. It is intended to create a single, digital platform for PCs, portable music devices and mobile phones, executives said during a conference call."

It will be interesting to see what comes of the discussions between the companies and how MTV's Urge digital music service as music on Urge music should "be available on Windows Media until further notice," according to Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks' Music Group. Urge customers can now can use their accounts to log on to Rhapsody.

I like Rhapsody's subscription service. And I am considering the move to the Zune Pass subscription, which also offers and 'all you can eat' song library via Zune Marketplace. I never got the Urge.

Online subscription packages like Rhapsody and Zune has certainly changed how I buy music... and I found that I purchase more CDs at a rate that parallels when I was more involved in the industry. As noted, subscription packages allow me to "try before I buy" legally thus exposing me to more musical talent than I get via radio today.  For many artists, I prefer to have higher-quality digital files available, 'though the quality of subscription music is fine for working out or general travel via mass transit... but I do notice the difference sometimes listening in the car and particularly at home.  

BTW, my Rhapsody subscription music folder is now about on par with the folder of my ripped CDs that I own ('though digitized at a high bit rate) as most subscription tracks are encoded at a lower rate (128 kbps) than I digitize my CDs.

Also see these related stories in the news...