Napster still kicking...



Napster just became relevant again, with dirt cheap music plan
by Brad Linder May 18th 2009

It wasn't that long ago that Napster was the dominant force in online music distribution. Of course, at that point, Napster didn't have a business model, nobody (including the record companies) was making any money off the service, and while the peer to peer network was extraordinarily popular with users, it was soon sued into oblivion. The Napster music service that eventually emerged out of the ashes was never quite as compelling, even after launching a DRM-free MP3 store last year.

But a funny thing happened today. Best Buy (which snapped up Napster last year for $121 million) came up with a business model that actually sounds pretty good. Here's how it works. For $5 a month, you can download and keep five DRM-free MP3 tracks a month. That might not sound that impressive, but here's where it gets interesting: On top of those free downloads, you get unlimited streaming access to Napster's library of 7 million tracks.

In other words, if you subscribe for a year and pay $60, you get a year's subscription to a pretty decent on-demand music service. You also get access to 60 commercial-free internet radio stations and 1,400 "expertly programmed playlists." And when you cancel the service, you'll get to keep 60 songs... which probably would have cost you about $60 anyway if you'd purchased them from Amazon, iTunes, or another online music store.

The only down side is that the streaming music service is no use on the go. You'll need a computer, not an MP3 player to listen to the streaming audio. But if the model proves successful, I wouldn't be surprised to see mobile Napster apps for iPhone, Windows Mobile, or Google Android show up. in the meantime, you can still sign up to Napster's older "Napster To Go" service which lets you download DRMed tracks to portable devices.

[From Napster just became relevant again, with dirt cheap music plan]

No comments:

Post a Comment