When Best Buy gobbled up Napster, Adam wondered what they could possibly do to make their expensive new liability relevant again. The answer? Go cheap. Very cheap.
The new plan, which goes live tonight, undercuts just about anything that doesn't involve BitTorrent. Five bucks a month nets you streaming access to Napster's 7-million-deep music library as well as five DRM-free MP3s. Five MP3s a month isn't much—that's about four or five typical albums a year. But even disregarding the radio service—which is strictly an on-demand streaming service, not some kind of DRM-laden rental service for portables like Napster To Go— you're getting these tracks at the going rate of $1 a song. Update: You can also pay to download as much you want, in addition to streaming and the five free MP3s.
So, if you have any use for a browser-tethered streaming service and were going to buy digital music anyway, Best Buy's new Napster is a solid "may as well" option. Full press release below (service available from tonight):
Napster Offers MP3s With its Popular On-Demand Streaming Service for One Low Monthly Price
LOS ANGELES – MAY 19, 2009 – Napster, the pioneer of digital music, today unveiled its latest music offering combining the freedom of MP3s with the discovery benefits of a high-quality streaming music service – all for one low price. For as little as $5 per month, Napster users get five unrestricted MP3 downloads, and unlimited access to Napster's award-winning on-demand music streaming service.
Music fans now have the best of both worlds: MP3s to keep forever, play, transfer and burn as much as they like, as well as unlimited music listening from Napster's catalog of more than seven million tracks. "There's no need to settle for 30-second clips to decide if you want to buy a song," said Chris Gorog, CEO of Napster. "For five bucks now you can have access to our entire music catalog and get five MP3s to add to your permanent collection."
Napster users can now:
• Get five MP3s each month to download, with their choice of songs from the Napster MP3 library that covers all types of music from all the major labels and includes the largest catalog of independent artists available.
• Listen to any track, as often as they like, in CD quality from Napster's catalog of more than seven million songs.
• Choose from more than 60 commercial-free radio stations and more than 1,400 expertly programmed playlists.
• Discover new music and artists through personalized recommendation tools.
• Enjoy the top hits from more than 50 years of Billboard charts. Want to know what was popular when you graduated high school? Now you can.
• Play MP3s on any MP3 player, including iPod®, iPhone® and music-enabled MP3 mobile phones.
"A decade ago, Napster revolutionized the way people discovered and enjoyed music," said Julie Owen, senior vice president of entertainment for Best Buy. "The brand that started it all is shaking things up again with this new service that provides music lovers continued access to the entertainment experience they've come to expect of Napster and Best Buy."
The new Napster offering is now available for U.S. residents at www.napster.com.