Feeds

Napster launches portable player-friendly music service

Will 'change the music industry forever'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Napster today formally launched Napster To Go (NTG), the portable music subscription service trialled since last Autumn, which it bullishly claims will "change the music industry forever".

Based on Microsoft's Windows Media 10 technology, NTG allows songs to be downloaded to a PC and transferred to a compatible music player with their DRM data intact.

The upshot is that transferred songs will become unplayable should your subscription lapse, but the quid pro quo is that Napster doesn't charge you twice: your usual subscription fee plus an extra per-track payment to transfer each song to your player, which is what it's had to do to date.

Why is that second payment no longer necessary? Formerly, transferred songs did not count as a subscription download, but as a one-off non-expiring download, according to the terms of Napster's music licences. In effect, this necessitated a second purchase of songs already legally acquired.

NTG neatly sidesteps the problem, by retaining the subscription status on the transferred track. Naturally, Napster charges more for the service - £15 a month in the UK, compared to its regular £10 monthly subscription fee. But punters no longer have to pay extra for each song they copy to, say, their Creative Zen Micro.

NTG is good news for Napster too, as the higher margin service is key to the company's plan to rapidly grow revenues and thus its profitability. Like Apple's iTunes, Napster offers one-off downloads, but its focus is on subscriptions. It reckons that consumers will prefer this music acquisition model, going forward.

This is a moot point. Subscriptions certainly match the way many people are now used to paying for TV content, whether by satellite, cable or terrestrial - what, after all, is the UK TV licence fee, but an annual subscription? But music is different: consumers have spent the last 50-odd years buying music on a one-off basis, to keep, not to lose should they fail to keep up the payments.

If Napster succeeds, it will be a revolution in music purchasing, but mass-market success is by no means guaranteed. Failure will not be for want of trying, though - Napster will promote NTG through a "major multi-million marketing campaign" with retail and device partners.

Napster increased worldwide subscribers by 90,000 to 270,000 in the three months to 31 December 2004, the company's third quarter of fiscal 2005. It publishes Q3 earnings on 9 February.

NTG is implemented in a new version of Napster's eponymous jukebox software, Napster 3.0. ®

Related stories

MP3.com founder vows unchained melodies
Norwegian student fined for MP3 links
Sony preps PlayStation 'music download service'
Apple iTunes sales tally hits 250m
Napster readies German music service
Legal downloads jumped 900% in 2004
Napster subscriber tally hits 270,000

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.