Napster wakes up and the world has changed so much.
May 1, 2006 6:17 PM   Subscribe

Remember Napster? Well, it's returned to its roots and is once again offering free music via a revamped ad based web-site. But according to their FAQ, you can only listen to any given song up to 5 times before you'll be asked to pay for it. Even though this equates to roughly 10 million free plays, in an age where BitTorrent is king, will this pay off for the company? Some say no, as the catches that come with this new system are just too many. But (for the moment at least) the share market is saying yes.
posted by Effigy2000 (38 comments total)

 
business model number ..... 3? 4? Give it up guys.
posted by puke & cry at 6:21 PM on May 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


In completely unrelated news, Audio Hijack is now available for Intel Macs.
posted by keswick at 6:30 PM on May 1, 2006


keswick: rofl. But the quality is pretty bad on the "free" versions. I am guessing 64kbps mp3 but I don't really know.
posted by neustile at 6:39 PM on May 1, 2006


I could see that being useful as a tool to give something a quick listen to see if you want to listen to any more of the album. Or if you wanted to keep track of what's popular on the radio, as it were.

Upon viewing the site, it appears to not have any Bad Religion. I'll be moving on. Thanks for the link though.
posted by The Castle at 6:42 PM on May 1, 2006


The model is actually fine -- it's something I'd be interested in. I think the place they're most likely to fall down is the experience. How obtrusive will the ads be? How cumbersome is the registration process? How steady is the network delivery?
posted by weston at 7:02 PM on May 1, 2006


Here's the part I don't understand:

"After the 5th free play of any single track, you can either purchase the track or become a Napster subscriber. As a subscriber, you can download an unlimited number of full-length songs to your PC."

How does this work, exactly? How did Napster manage to get a license from audio copyright holders to provide users with unlimited access to 2 million songs for $14.95 a month?

I'm usually on the up-and-up about this kind of stuff, but I realize I am quite out of the loop here.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 7:04 PM on May 1, 2006


Pontius Pilate writes "How did Napster manage to get a license from audio copyright holders to provide users with unlimited access to 2 million songs for $14.95 a month?"

The access goes away when you end your subscription, if that makes anything clearer. You don't get to keep listening to the music you've downloaded unless you keep your Napster subscription current.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:07 PM on May 1, 2006


Ah, so it's the pr0n-movie-clip business model applied to music.

Um, from what I can tell. Based on what I've heard.
posted by yhbc at 7:14 PM on May 1, 2006


Thank you for the clarification.

Hmm. How does the song termination work, if you know? I am assuming that it is possible to listen to the songs offline and on an MP3 player, which would imply that your computer does not query the Napster servers at every play to make sure that you have an active license to listen to the song. So how does Napster remove your ability from listening to the music you had previously downloaded and burned on CDs, loaded on an MP3 player, and so forth?
posted by Pontius Pilate at 7:21 PM on May 1, 2006


This addresses Napster's problem of staying on good terms with the RIAA. What it doesn't do is explain why I need to change my music buying and listening practices in order to solve Napster's business problem. My problem as a consumer is the RIAA, and how to get rid of them, not how to help Napster make them happy so they can both go on existing. Any business model that allows the RIAA go to on being an unnecessary and gouging intermediary between performer and listener is just a new spin on a moribund arrangement; heroic life-support for a roughly 90-year-old distribution model whose time has passed.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:21 PM on May 1, 2006


Being the YouTube of music (i.e. "OMG! You have 2 check this out! here's the link [link to napster]") might be a valuable position to be in. Maybe. YouTube doesn't seem to be making any money. But it doesn't look like sending a Napster link will work for recipients who aren't registered. I'd think streaming a lower quality to everyone (with ads to defray costs and with a link to buy) would be a better implementation.

So far I can't get it to work consistently. Many songs just won't play. That's really a deal-killer.

And defeating play limits should be trivial because it's browser based (delete cookies, sign up for new account)
posted by TimeFactor at 7:29 PM on May 1, 2006


Around and around
Napster won't die, won't flourish
Kill R.I.A.A
posted by edgeways at 7:36 PM on May 1, 2006


heroic life-support for a roughly 90-year-old distribution model whose time has passed.

See also:

downhillbattle.org/itunes

downhillbattle.org/napster
posted by meehawl at 7:40 PM on May 1, 2006



posted by cellphone at 7:41 PM on May 1, 2006


that's clever. really clever... and also blue...
posted by Debaser626 at 7:57 PM on May 1, 2006


Apparently non-registered users will only get a 30-second excerpt when they click on a link.

The Flashblock Firefox extension seems to disrupt the preliminary handshaking sequence and that explains why I've had trouble getting songs to play consistently.

I'll find it useful just for checking stuff out but it'll have to get in line behind usenet, bittorrent, all of mp3, or mp3 center for actual downloading. So I give it a meh.
posted by TimeFactor at 8:14 PM on May 1, 2006


I think its time Shawn Fanning got himself a goddamned real job. This is a stupid business model that will not work. I thought VC guys had wised up on stupid ideas after the bubble burst?

Drop me an email when Napster gives away free blowjobs with their music without the stupid limitations.
posted by fenriq at 8:21 PM on May 1, 2006


In related news --

Bands From '70s Seek More Digital Music Royalties.

Apple, Labels Stick with 99 Cents Per iTunes Song.
posted by ericb at 8:24 PM on May 1, 2006


What the hell is Napster? And who would willingly choose such a stupid name?

Some grabass of a freshman CompSci major, I'd wager.
posted by loquacious at 8:54 PM on May 1, 2006


Being the YouTube of music (i.e. "OMG! You have 2 check this out! here's the link [link to napster]") might be a valuable position to be in.

Except that myspace has that down.
posted by delmoi at 9:05 PM on May 1, 2006


I'll probably use it some -- they have a playlist put together by Blondie, for example. (Thought that playlist isn't as exciting as it could be because the sound quality sucks.)
posted by Tlogmer at 9:43 PM on May 1, 2006


Didn't they name napster after a hedgehog? Or maybe it was the nickname of the creator, for being so nappy.
posted by puke & cry at 9:44 PM on May 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Not very creative for a company in their position. How about a Netflix or Zip distribution approach to music...cmon.
posted by lightweight at 9:53 PM on May 1, 2006


checking on rotten, I see that it was indeed named after the creator, because of his nappy hair.
posted by puke & cry at 9:55 PM on May 1, 2006


Except that myspace has that down.

Not at all, at least not in the way that I meant. Yes, there's music on myspace but it isn't the central repository for music on the web the way that YouTube has become for video. It has no facilities to search for music except music by musicians who have myspace sites. Good luck finding songs by Wes Montgomery, Hermans Hermits, or Youssou N'Dour on myspace but I can find and post links to videos on YouTube of each of them in a couple of minutes.
posted by TimeFactor at 10:01 PM on May 1, 2006


I've been listening for a couple days now (they had planes circling Coachella with adverts). I rather like it. I don't know about the business plan but I never paid Napster any mind until the other day, so their plan is currently working. Will it make them any money? no clue. But, like youtube, I'm enjoying what they have to offer while it is available.
posted by shoepal at 10:56 PM on May 1, 2006


I'm still unclear about the Napster subscription thing. What stops you from recording the files as a straight MP3 when you download it?
posted by Justinian at 12:20 AM on May 2, 2006


Once again, USA only. Yawn.
posted by salmacis at 12:55 AM on May 2, 2006


timefactor - isn't the songs you are looking for akin to your intellectual prowness? I mean really...Come on. Try something that appeals to the MTV or VH1 crows instead.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 4:35 AM on May 2, 2006


Um, this isn't the old Napster, or really anything to do with it at all (no Shawn Fanning, no employees in common, etc.). It's just some company (Roxio?) that bought Napster's logo and brand at auction when the real Napster went bust.
posted by reklaw at 4:35 AM on May 2, 2006


I meant crowds, not crows....Damn keyboard.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 4:36 AM on May 2, 2006


How much does it cost to purchase a song? I realize that you can have unlimited downloads with a subscription, but if you want to keep any songs after ending the subscription, you have to purchase them separately. How much?
posted by MrZero at 5:48 AM on May 2, 2006


How does the song termination work, if you know? I am assuming that it is possible to listen to the songs offline and on an MP3 player, which would imply that your computer does not query the Napster servers at every play to make sure that you have an active license to listen to the song. So how does Napster remove your ability from listening to the music you had previously downloaded and burned on CDs, loaded on an MP3 player, and so forth?

Napster-to-Go uses Microsoft's Janus DRM, which queries the server every so often to see that you are still subscribed. If you are not subscribed, or your computer (and WMA player) does not validate itself with the server, you can not continue to play the tracks you have stored on your computer or WMA player.
posted by andrewraff at 8:03 AM on May 2, 2006


Shawn Fanning has a real job.
posted by youarenothere at 10:17 AM on May 2, 2006


Meh. Call me when AudioGalaxy goes opt-out again.
posted by mullingitover at 10:42 AM on May 2, 2006


Funmonkey1: isn't the songs you are looking for akin to your intellectual prowness? I mean really...Come on. Try something that appeals to the MTV or VH1 crows instead.

I didn't think anyone'd have trouble finding Franz Ferdinand, Shakira or Kanye West on Napster or YouTube or MySpace. But I was wrong; I can't find Kanye West on MySpace. (But I can find all six artists I've named on Napster and YouTube)

My original point stands: MySpace isn't a useful tool if you want to post or send a link to a song by any artist, mass-market or obscure, present or past. I was wondering if Napster might fill this role but you can only send a link to an excerpt to someone who isn't also registered so, no, it can't fill that role.
posted by TimeFactor at 1:53 PM on May 2, 2006


This is actually pretty neat. Quality is a bit crappy, but it's a nice option for full length previews of a song.

I'm surprised how much they ripped off the iTMS look though. Well, not surprised, but you know what I mean.
posted by smackfu at 2:00 PM on May 2, 2006


From today's WSJ: "Where Are They Now: Shawn Fanning --The Poster Boy for Online Music Piracy Tries to Put the P2P Genie Back in the Bottle"
posted by ericb at 2:51 PM on May 2, 2006


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