Napster tries to push music subscription service over pay-for-download iTunes-like model

“Napster Inc. on Wednesday unveiled a portable version of its music subscription service, backed by a $30 million ad campaign that takes aim at rival Apple Computer Inc.’s popular iPod player,” Sue Zeidler reports for Reuters. “Napster’s promotion includes a Super Bowl television spot urging fans to compare the costs of spending $10,000 to buy and transfer 10,000 songs from Apple’s iTunes store to an iPod, with the $15-per-month fee to carry songs from a catalog of over a million tracks on Napster-compatible players.”

“Until recently, music subscription services have been restricted in their ability to transfer songs they provide to portable players, while Apple has sold millions on the portable iPods by allowing users to buy songs from iTunes and store them on iPods. Chris Gorog, Napster’s chief executive, said the company hoped to convince consumers that pay-for-download services were more expensive and “antiquated” by comparison with Napster’s subscription model,” Zeidler reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If, and we stress if, Napster gathers any momentum with this, what’s to say Apple won’t add a subscription model option to their market-dominating iTunes? Steve Jobs might even send Chris Gorog a thank you note for paying for the marketing to educate the public. Oh, and what happens to your subscription money and your song access if Napster goes away again? As an MDN Reader wrote to us in an email, “if (when) Napster goes away after two years, what do you get to keep for the $360 you spent? Nothing. If you spent that same money on 15 iTunes each month, you’d have 360 songs.” When we spend our money, we like to end up owning something.

And, if you haven’t figured it out, yet, Gorog, people have or want Apple iPod players, not the third-party red-headed stepchildren players upon which Napster relies.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Cornell University’s Mac users ‘uniformly unhappy’ with Napster – January 19, 2005
Study: Apple iTunes Music Store dominates with 70 percent market share, second place Napster holds 11 percent – October 19, 2004
Cornell University wrestles with Napster’s exclusion of Mac and iPod-using students – September 08, 2004
Why are Cornell’s Mac students being forced to pay for useless Napster? – September 07, 2004
Napster schools to Mac-using students: bend over and take it – September 04, 2004
Napster CEO: ‘it would be great’ if Apple iPod supported WMA – March 09, 2004
Napster CEO: Apple iTunes, iPod ‘consumer-unfriendly experiences’ – March 09, 2004
Microsoft tries to push WMA by propping up beleaguered Napster – February 25, 2004


  1. I like Apple’s “Ownership Musical Society”. Makes this conservative Mac poweruser grin ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  2. What’s with the last paragraph? Sue writes: “Apple’s iTunes has sold some 230 million songs to date and over an estimated 10 million iPods.” Has she been living under a rock? We’re well beyond 250 million now and there are cold, hard numbers showing more than 10 million iPods sold — in fact, Steve kept the 10,000,000th. So much for accurate fact checking!

  3. I love the smell of desperation in the morning. My apologies to the copyright holders.

    So we are to believe that they will grant us the ability to put music on portable devices with Janus? M$ DRM is solely about stopping you from putting media on portable devices, unless you pay for the privilege

    The subscription model is not about choice, or saving money. It is about creating a continuing revenue stream.

    Subscriptions will fail because it is a niche market.

  4. I wouldn’t mind the option of some sort of subscription to allow previewing of full tracks for as long as you keep paying. I would, however, want some sort of option to then buy those songs I had listened to at a reduced rate.

    Similarly I wouldn’t mind the option of buying the rest of an album at the album price with a discount if I’ve already bought one or more individual songs from it. On occasions I’ve bought a song (or songs) then decided I want the album – I kind of resent having to pay twice. I wouldn’t expect the full single song price deducted from the album but some concession would be nice.

  5. I doubt I could find 10,000 songs I really wanted to have, rate, and organize. I’ve been buying about 300 tracks per year since the iTMS came out.

    I know a number of couples where each has an iPod and they listen to lots of the same music. Under Napster’s plan I wonder if each would have to rent the songs they both liked?

  6. I said it many times and I’ll say it again, I don’t want to rent my music. I want to own it! As said above I want to get what I pay for and be able to keep it no matter what happens in the future.

  7. Two things.

    (1) No sane person would download and spend $10K on some songs. They are banking on people’s ignorance about iTunes by using extreme situations to try and prove a point. At best, the average person spends $20 per month downloading from iTunes (I need to find the study link). This is comparable to the $15 per month Napster charges, but with iTunes, you get to keep the music. But if you want to keep the music from Napster, you have to pay the $15 per month, then $0.99 to $1.29 per track and then pay them more money to burn it. Sounds like a losing business model to me.

    (2) Apple could do a subscription model if they wanted or they could counter-market with the slogan, “iTunes. Own your music.” The point of the commercial would be to show that you still have to pay per track if you want to actually own the songs and burn them on CDs.

  8. Just wondering if there is an app like Wiretap for Windows?

    Sign up for a subscription, record all my favorites on my brand new 200GB external hard drive, encode them as MP3’s. Discontinue my subscription.

    Just a thought. Might get the attention of the content owners if this is possible and becomes an issue.

    Of course I can’t do this since I have a Mac(Napster being proprietary and all) and I don’t steal, but some people might, might’ent they?

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