Gaming & Media

Rhapsody / Napster







monthly revenue

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An upstream battle

Rhapsody (now Napster) is a streaming music service formerly owned by RealNetworks.

When they hired us they had a small budget, little known brand, and were chasing the same customers as some of the biggest streaming services on the planet — what could go wrong?

To help Rhapsody stand out from the noise and convince music fans to pay for a relatively unknown streaming service, we needed to dive deep into long tail paid search and SEO.


Out-swimming the big fish

We knew the big players like iTunes, Spotify and Amazon were competing heavily on keywords related to “online music”, “buy music online” and “free music”. While the volume for these keywords was huge, we certainly didn’t have the ad dollars to compete on these high cost search terms.

Most competitors were running their paid search and display campaigns at a loss, paying upwards of $100 to acquire a free user. We had a budget of $35 to acquire a paying customer.

We set our strategy on long tail keywords — especially keywords related to artist, song, and album titles (“refugee tom petty damn the torpedoes”).

And we leveraged the Rhapsody API to generate hundreds of custom artist-specific landing pages with content aligned to the keyword.

The result was a $15 CaC — less than half of the target CaC that the client gave us to work with.

Moodboards help us align our visuals with the message


Finding the bait

There’s no way to test keywords without buying clicks, but we did have some tools at our disposal to generate our original keyword list.

First, we queried the Billboard charts to identify top selling artists and albums.

Next, we used the Rhapsody/Napster API to see which genres were being requested the most by current users. We found Jazz, Country, Folk, Classic Rock, Christian and R&B were the most popular genres. Once we identified these genres we used open royalty-free databases to retrieve artists, albums and keywords from each of these genres.

We now had research to inform our long tail keyword strategy for the most demanded artists, albums and songs.

Moodboards help us align our visuals with the message


Sometimes quantity = quality

In paid search, quality score can make or break your profitability. We needed content on our landing pages specific to artists and albums. We needed to generate these pages quickly so we could test and exclude non-performing keywords to ensure we hit our target CaC.

The Rhapsody API provided content and images for all artists in the database, so we built a website engine that could render a 4-page artist specific microsite in seconds, complete with album titles, songs, artwork, pictures, discography and artist bios. Our landing pages even had song previews and a full product tour.

Each site was linked together in a network of thousands of interconnected artist-specific domains. The unique content of these microsites, and their interlinking, sky rocketed our SEO which compounded the efforts of our paid search campaigns.

We built a user acquisition flywheel that competitors could only wish that they had at their fingertips.

Moodboards help us align our visuals with the message


Let the bass drop








landing pages




conversion rate


Small fish think big (1,500 pages big)

For Rhapsody/Napster, long tail was the road to profit. By taking those keywords (eg: "creedence clearwater revival have you ever seen the rain" ) and supporting them with thousands of auto-generated landing pages with unique content, we were able to beat the major players using a combo of paid search and SEO.

"You guys sure know what you're doing. None of our other marketing partners have thought to use our artist content in the way you did. The results are superb. Keep it up"

Rachel Lazar, Senior Director, Consumer Marketing