Napster 2 About to Re-Launch

Napster 2 About to Re-Launch

An old friend from a while back is about to re-surface on October 29 but time has definitely taken its toll. This time round Napster will offer a host of features, quite a few freebies, and will be powered by Microsoft and its Media Player 9 technology. The one important change however, and the biggest bet for the future of legitimate online music distribution, is the charge which will apply for all downloads. The USD 0.99 per track and USD 9.99 per album are lower than normal retail prices but some argue that the price drop is not extensive enough to offer an incentive for users to quit illegal file downloads.

Napster is now the property of Roxio and its chairman and CEO, Chris Gorog sums up its goals in the following sentence: Napster 2.0 is unequivocally the most complete and comprehensive music service in the world. Except for the 99-cent downloads, the new service will allow anyone with a PC to connect to a digital music library which contains over 500,000 songs. Given Roxio's previous expertise it is expected that Napster 2.0 will also feature the option to move music from the PC to digital audio devices.
Those who are interested can begin pre-registering for the service immediately at and get five free downloads when the service launches widely to consumers.

Another, possibly more interesting option will be to upgrade to Napster's premium service for USD 9.95 per month, which offers unlimited listening and downloading, 40 commercial-free interactive radio stations and a collection of community features, including the ability to email tracks to friends and share play lists with other Napster users. Another sign that the business approach to online music sales is changing is the fact that any visitor to the service can - free of charge and with no obligation - download the new Napster 2.0 service, watch music videos on-demand, listen to 30-second music clips, browse decades of Billboard charts, read Napster's new online magazine, Fuzz, and take full advantage of the music recommendation engine.

Napster 2.0 also allows users to import other music files from their hard drives into the service, enabling them to access all their music in one central location, and will provide members with customer support via both email and phone.

Most of the features mentioned you will recognise from version 9.0 of WMP. In fact Napster 2.0 will be accessible via the Premium Services tab in Windows Media Player 9 Series. Users will be able to search, browse, download and organize their music before playback and download it to portable music devices or burn it to a CD. 100 million copies of Windows Media Player 9 Series have been downloaded since its launch in January, helping ensure broad reach for the Napster 2.0 service. Although using MS will, no doubt, alienate some users it is easy to see that the popularity of WMP and the integration of a wide variety of features under one user-interface will provide an ease of use which may make the service more appealing to those who are not that familiar with the latest technology.

The service will also deploy full-screen video using Windows Media 9 and Windows Server 2003 Fast Streaming technology. Fast Streaming makes it possible for music fans to listen to audio and watch video on Windows with nearly instantaneous delivery of their selected content.

I've used Napster 2.0 and it's really great, said Shawn Fanning, creator of the original Napster service and an advisor to Napster 2.0 on the user experience. It has community features and tools for discovering new music that were important parts of the original Napster experience. It's fast, easy to use, and the sound quality surpasses that of the original. Digital music takes a big step forward today.

Napster 2.0 will launch nationwide on October 29 with a major celebration at the House of Blues in Los Angeles featuring performances by some of the leading new artists in the nation. Hundreds of music lovers will receive tickets to the exclusive event through radio and fan site giveaways in the coming weeks.