Plans for Napster Launch Revealed
The music comes back to Napster on October 29, when the silenced song-swapper gets reborn as a legitimate and law-abiding online music service, Napster's parent, Roxio, announced Thursday.
Now in beta testing, Napster 2.0, as the new service is called, will offer U.S. music fans a digital music library with more than 500,000 songs available for individual download for $0.99. Albums will also be available for $9.95.
In addition, Napster is selling $9.95 monthly subscriptions, which give users unlimited listening and downloading, 40 commercial-free radio stations, and community features such as the ability to share playlists and to e-mail tracks to other Napster users.
For no charge, anyone can download the Napster 2.0 software and use the service to watch music videos on demand, listen to 30-second music clips, access Billboard charts, read Napster's online magazine "Fuzz," and use a music recommendation engine.
Users can also upload music files from their hard drives to Napster 2.0, in order to have all their music files in one place. Fans can preregister for the service now at Napster.com. The company's statement doesn't say when or if Roxio plans to roll out Napster outside of the United States.
Napster also announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics to develop portable audio devices. The first Samsung-Napster player will be available starting on October 19 in Best Buy stores.
A Place on the PC
A partnership with Microsoft will make Napster the featured music service on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004. Napster will also be included in Windows Media Player 9.
Finally, buyers of Gateway Media Center PCs will receive one month of access to Napster 2.0 free of charge if they purchase the system during the fourth quarter. Later this year, Gateway will be the only PC vendor to ship Napster on all of its consumer desktop PCs, along with 150 preloaded songs.
Napster's first incarnation was as a renegade file-swapping service that music fans used to exchange songs for free. But as Napster's popularity grew, the major record labels went after it in the courts, alleging copyright infringement; the actions led to the service's closing over two years ago.
Roxio, a digital media software maker based in Santa Clara, California, acquired Napster's intellectual property and technology patents for around $5 million in November 2002, saying that an online music service would complement its line of CD- and DVD-burning products.
Unlike its predecessor, Napster 2.0 has content agreements with the five major record labels and with hundreds of independent labels.