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Multi-year deal

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UK electronics retailer Dixons Group has signed an exclusive deal to promote Napster's British launch later this year with Napster-branded software and hardware, the companies announced today.

The terms of the multi-year deal, which emerged earlier this week, were not disclosed.

Nor, it seems, did Napster's press release writers remember Dixons' own announcement, made last week, that it is to close ten per cent of the 1100 stores the release mentions. So Napster products are likely to get a little less coverage than the company expects.

As anticipated, Dixons will pre-load Napster's Napster 2.0 software on all of its own-brand PCs. The retailer will also sell Napster Premium subscriptions. Napster's logo will be splashed on in-store signage, as well as CD-R packs, CD wallets and CD labelling kits. Expect the music service to be heavily promoted in Dixons stores' portable audio areas.

Napster will also get a links on Dixons' various retail websites.

Napster president Brad Duea described the deal as an "extremely important" one for the company and indeed it is, giving the service significant exposure to British consumers at the point of purchase.

That said, are they the right consumers? The chains in Dixons Group's portfolio - Dixons, PC World, The Link and Currys - are certainly pitched at a lower social demographic than, say, Apple's iPod advertising targets. That could bring Napster into contact with a whole new market - or it could put it in front on an audience that is not a significant music purchasing constituency. Simply, are the kind of folk who shop in Dixons Group stores the sort of people who will actively purchase and download music rather than buy or copy CDs?

Dixons can counter that argument by pointing to the success of Freeserve, the free ISP it launched in the late 1990s.

Comments from Dixons Group chief executive John Clare about "demystifying" subscriptions suggests that will be the aspect of the Napster service portfolio that the retailer will promote the most, and that may well be more in tune with those consumers who are used to satellite or cable TV subscriptions. ®

Related stories

Napster to team up with Dixons
Dixons shutters 106 stores
Napster's music licensing frustration
Napster picks former Capital FM song picker to pick songs
Napster schedules UK launch

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