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Fags, mags and... er... digital music download vouchers

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Napster UK today continued its pursuit of lesser net-worth individuals than arch-rival Apple is chasing by signing a deal to sell its music download vouchers in papershops and convenience stores throughout the nation.

Over 1000 McColl's, Martin's, Forbuoys, RS McColl and Dillons shops, all part of the TM Retail group, will stock Napster Music Vouchers from today. Green vouchers provide two and four months' access to Napster's £10-a-month subscription service for £20 and £35, respectively. Blue vouchers costing £10, £20 and £30 can be used, respectively, for ten, 22 and 33 one-off downloads.

The TM Retail deal comes after Napster vouchers went on sale earlier this month throughout the UK's chain of around 15,500 loss-making Post Offices and, in October, through Dixons Group's more profitable Dixons, Currys, PC World and The Link shops. All these generally target demographic groups not traditionally seen a big music customers.

Napster sees such chains as a key way of attracting consumers without credit cards - much as Inspired Broadcast Networks is gearing its digital music vending machines at the cash economy. But with the digital music market being driven by device purchases rather than the other way round, it's questionable how many owners of pricey MP3 players are going to prefer buying songs via the Post Office or a newsagent than online.

"For those who may be unfamiliar with the Internet or perhaps don't have a credit card, Napster vouchers offer a very easy route to the Napster service," said Napster UK chief Leanne Sharman. The trouble is, surely, online music sales demand a considerable familiarity with the Internet? ®

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