Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Napster Offers DRM Free Music At Their New All MP3 Download Store

Napster looks to take on iTunes as it opens up its new DRM-free music store.

Napster claims to have the largest selection of music among online music services, with over 6 million tracks, today they announced they will be making them all them available for purchase in standard MP3 format, playable on any device, including iPods.

The DRM-free tracks cost $0.99 and albums cost $9.95, which is comparable with Apple's iTunes Plus DRM-free songs. The Apple DRM-free tracks are also in the less-compatible AAC format, which Windows Media Player can't play. Both companies' DRM-free files are encoded at a high-quality, 256Kbps bitrate.

"It's great that we have finally gotten here," said Chris Gorog, Napster's chairman and chief executive. "It is really the beginning of a level playing field, which I think is essential for Napster, but also for the health of the digital music business in general."

Unlike their regular services Napster's new DRM-free service does not require any monthly membership fee. They will still be offering their $12.95 per month on-demand streaming service as well as their $14.95 Napster-to-Go portable syncing service.

The new service will not require the use of any new software, it will be a Web based interface that works on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux running Firefox 2.x or Internet Explorer 7.x (which is recommended).

Napster faces tough competition as Amazon is already offering better-than-iTunes quality for less-than-iTunes prices without the proprietary DRM (Digital Rights Management) software. Amazons music service has been up and running for some time now and reaches millions of existing Amazon users whom can buy downloads using their current account details. This would make Amazon the obvious first choice however Napster's pure volume of music available should create a better draw.

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