Napster Offers Free Music Service
Napster recently launched a new free music service supported solely by advertising. After several months of terse negotiations with the major record companies, Napster was able to launch the service by bargaining to split advertising revenue based on the number of times one of the label’s songs were played.
The free service, which comes in addition to Napster’s existing subscription service, allows users to send direct links of chosen songs to friends and is a nod to its roots as a pirate music service. Users can listen to the same song up to five times on the free site before having to pony up and pay. Napster’s strategy is that the free service will serve as word-of-mouth marketing to lure new listeners to its paid-subscription service. The free service has a has a built-in browser-based music player which doesn’t require a user to install a plug-in.
Napster currently has 600,000 paid subscribers and offers unlimited online listening to tracks at $9.95 a month, or $14.95 for tracks to be transferred onto a separate device such as an MP3 player. However, it isn’t compatible with Apple’s iPod, the best selling portable-music player on the market with close to an 80% share.