Napster just became free?

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I have been playing with this and it is AMAZING.  I am totally blown away that they offer free playback over the web.  Sign up was painless and I was streaming full albums in less than a minute.  Hats off to Napster.

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I just read that Napster is now free.  This is pretty big news, I wonder how their new profit model (advertising supported) will work out.  Their site is currently down with this message:

Due to overwhelming demand, we are performing some maintenance. Please check back soon.

 

This is pretty interesting!  A Napster comeback, perhaps?  Let's hope they stay on board with our DRM.

Napster, unveiled today the new Napster.com, its interactive, ad-supported, free online music destination. With the launch, Napster becomes the first legal digital music service to offer music fans free, on-demand listening to over two million major and independent-label tracks five times each. A Web-based music player enables Napster music to be easily enjoyed anywhere online at no cost and also makes purchasing individual tracks and albums and subscribing to Napster's premium services simple. As part of Napster's comprehensive Web strategy, the Company announced two additional features of Napster.com, NapsterLinks and the soon to be released Narchive, two unique and innovative resources designed to help music fans discover more music and easily share their personal music experiences with other fans.

Napster Chairman and CEO Chris Gorog will formally introduce Napster.com today as part of his keynote speech at the 2nd annual MUSEXPO event in Los Angeles. The speech will be broadcast live on the Web at http://investor.napster.com/ or http://www.wsw.com/webcast/cc/naps2/ .

In addition to listening to free full-length songs and albums, Napster.com members can search through Napster.com's enormous music catalog and access original artist biographies and exclusive programming features, including over 150 pre-programmed playlists. The new Napster.com is easily accessible to music fans using any Web browser on PC, Macintosh or Linux operating systems, without downloading any software or plug-ins. Listening to Napster.com's extensive music collection for free simply requires creating a member name and password and providing a valid e-mail address. Current Napster subscribers can use their existing member name and password to enjoy Napster.com. The free music experience is initially being introduced in the United States and will be extended to other territories over time.

"Napster was born of the idea of eliminating all barriers to discovering, enjoying and sharing music and of putting the power in the hands of fans," said Chris Gorog, Napster's chairman and CEO. "With a vision to empower music fans in a legal environment, with an open, all-inclusive platform, we are very excited to share our new free music experience at Napster.com."

Napster.com's Exclusive Features Expand the Music Experience

In addition to providing free listening to Napster's massive music library, Napster.com also offers new features designed to encourage the global music community to enjoy a more interactive experience.

NapsterLinks ( http://www.napster.com/napsterlinks ) enable anyone to add links to free Napster music to e-mails, instant messages, blogs and websites, enabling them to bring text to life with free music. NapsterLinks are URLs that link to specific songs, albums or artists in the Napster.com catalog that can be created using a simple, free tool available on the Web site. Music fans can now share legal music across the Web by putting the NapsterLinks they create into any of their electronic communications. Clicking on a NapsterLink anywhere on the Web causes Napster's Web-based music player to open and begin playing free Napster music.

The Narchive ( http://narchive.napster.com ) is a public music archive where everyone is invited to contribute to an ever-expanding "People's History of Music." Napster.com members are encouraged to add their unique voices to the Narchive through personal stories, photos and memorabilia. They can also populate their personal entries with free music links from Napster (NapsterLinks) so all members of Napster.com can simultaneously listen to the artists they are reading and writing about.

The Narchive, which will be available as a Beta shortly, offers original biographical information and exclusive photos of artists for anyone to browse. It also features content from some of the foremost authorities in music, such as writer and editor Neil Feineman, who created many of the original featured biographies, and renowned photo archivist Michael Ochs, whose extensive galleries of original photos are featured exclusively in Napster.com.

The Narchive is a community where music fans and experts can all engage in an ongoing, interactive, audio/visual dialogue about anything and everything in the world of music.

Rounding out Napster's comprehensive music offerings are the Napster and Napster To Go subscription services. With Napster, music fans pay one low monthly price and enjoy a premium music subscription experience that includes unlimited access to CD-quality music and advanced discovery, community and programming features. In addition to those premium benefits, Napster To Go members also enjoy unlimited transfer of music to compatible MP3 players, without having to purchase individual tracks and albums a la carte. Both of Napster's premium subscription services are available in a software application that does not contain any advertising. Music fans can also access Napster Light through the ad-free application to purchase individual tracks and albums without paying a monthly fee. Visitors to Napster.com can quickly and easily download the free software application through the "subscribe" tab or via links located throughout the Web site.

"With all the progress the digital music industry has made over the past few years, a digital music model that fully-satisfies everyone -- fans, artists, labels and rights holders -- has yet to surface," continued Gorog. "We believe we have taken a significant step toward achieving this goal and are grateful for the cooperative support of the record industry in making this a reality."

Ad-Supported Business Model Benefits All

With historical visitation of approximately two million unique visitors per month, Napster offers advertisers access to millions of music fans and an association with the most well-known music brand on the Web.

For specific information about advertising opportunities or more information about the Napster.com free music experience, please visit www.napster.com .

About Napster
Napster (Nasdaq: NAPS) is committed to making great music experiences more accessible to all music fans. Napster.com gives web users the power to legally listen on-demand to a massive catalogue of music from major and independent labels, wherever they are on the Web -- for FREE. The Napster music subscription service offers a premium experience that includes unlimited access to CD-quality music and advanced discovery, community and programming features in an advertising-free environment, and Napster To Go subscribers also enjoy unlimited transfer of music to a compatible MP3 player. Napster Light, an a la carte download store, and Napster Mobile, a hosted music service featuring artist images, ring tones and full-length songs, round out the Napster digital music line-up. Napster is headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in Frankfurt, London, Luxembourg, New York, San Diego and Tokyo. For more information, please visit
www.napster.com .