Why ‘Napster To Go’ will flop

“On the surface, the To Go model looks like a great replacement for Napster’s previous subscription service. In the past, customers had to pay a monthly subscription fee that allowed them to rent as much music as they liked. Users then had to pay extra to download permanent versions of songs that could be transferred to a device or CD. Now, $14.95 per month lets you download as much music as you like to your computer and/or device,” Ashlee Vance writes for The Register. “The big detractor, however, is that you still don’t own the music. You rent it. Stop paying the Napster tax man, and all your music disappears.”

“This forces you to make a choice between quantity and permanence. Pay Napster every month and gain access to an almost limitless supply of music or buy select CDs, as you have in the past, and own them for years,” Vance writes. “From where we sit, the math doesn’t break down terribly well in Napster’s favor.”

Vance looks at a number of hypothetical customers and finds Napster To Go doesn’t really work very well for any situation.

Vance continues, “Even Napster seems to realize the vacuous nature of the deal. ‘A fully-integrated marketing program will support the release of Napster To Go, led by a currently-under-wraps February 6, 2005 Super Bowl television advertisement,’ it says in a press release. ‘This will be complemented by the new ‘Works with Napster To Go’ logo program that enables consumers to easily identify Napster To Go compatible MP3 players at retail.'”

“What is this marketing program integrated into? Is it possible to have a partially-integrated marketing program? Are we to be excited by logos now? When the bullshit generator goes this far into overdrive, you know there are problems,” Vance writes. “Napster plans to spend $30m to promote this new service. That’s a cute total if you consider that Apple made close to $14m a day last quarter in iPod sales, shipping 4.6m devices. The only money to be had in this market is in the hardware, and Apple has it all locked up. Here’s hoping consumers will see the light and Napster To Go will go away.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Ditto.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Napster CEO: We’re ‘the biggest brand in digital music, much more exciting than Apple’s iTunes’ – February 03, 2005
Napster tries to push music subscription service over pay-for-download iTunes-like model – February 03, 2005
Apple Computer could sell 21 million iPod shuffle units in 2005 – January 19, 2005
Cornell University’s Mac users ‘uniformly unhappy’ with Napster – January 19, 2005
Analyst: Apple’s iTunes Music Store ‘downloads could reach 474 million in calendar 2005’ – December 17, 2004
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. For $0 i can listen to all kinds of random music from all kinds of genres, its called internet radio, and they do the random thing for you. Tehn pay 99¢ for the ones you like.

    And as they said in the article, you already have a music collection built that you are adding to. The only people this works for is teen who purchase a new album every week because its new and cool. Except when your out of high school, and your parents arnt paying your bills anymore and move, your music will just dissappear, and you will be left with nothing. I have a nice CD collection i started @ 16, combine that with your spouse’s and look at all the music you could have had.

    As Most people who have a large collection do, I probably listen to the older stuff more. And its great going back and rediscovering old music you listened to back then

  2. When you rent or lease a car, you pay to use it until you return it. Then you have no car.

    When you rent an apartment, you pay until you move out. There is no benefit after you leave and must find another place to live.

    When you rent music, you listen until you quit paying. Then the music is no longer available, unless, in Napster’s crazy world, you choose to pay for it again. Where’s the logic in that? Who wants to pay twice for one item?

    I’d rather own my car, own my house, and own my music the first time ’round.

    My magic word: “reason” — Hmmmmmm….. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”oh oh” style=”border:0;” />

  3. Definitely a flopper. Even allowing for inflation, if retro cat didn’t allow for the time value of money you can multiply that by 3 to 5, I guess.

    The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a cool sticker for the iPod shuffle. Click on the small graphic and print the full-size image on a sticker. I wonder if this will catch on….

  4. Another key point is that when you own music, you are protected from the price jumping up. I’ll be laughing hard at all the poor schlups who rented there music at $15 a month and find that down the road the Napster changes its price to $20 a month, $25 a month, $29.95 a month whatever. — and that the renter has no option but to pony up or lose all their music.. If they switch to a different service (aka MSN Music store) or whatever, they have to go through the hassle of downloading their collection again…

    If, like in ITMS, you buy a song for $.99, it is bought for good and that price won’t go up.

    PS. Something is really screwd up with the magic word — I had to reload 3 times for it to work. — it is like a tag is not closed properly on an adserver. bad bad bad

    I am also waiting for the DRM crack that will render Janus completely ineffective. I wonder what would happen to Napster, MS, bottom line etc if the DRM was cracked and basically all rented songs become 0wn3d. There goes that business model. Then what do they do… disable songs, force people to download new songs (like they would) force people to upgrade their music software, or force people to upgrade their mp3 player — anything that runs the cracked DRM music won’t play post-cracked DRM music…. PlaysforSure????

    Not only is renting music a risky move for consumers, it is a risky move for the providers. I would be a bottom dollar that there are going to be a lot of troubles where customers and corporations will be pitted against one another to keep prices down and force upgrade paths. ugly.

  5. the MAWPUP might be a pain, but all the sites it goes to are good for you.

    Learn more, help people. Don’t just sit there at the damn computer all day.

    How about:

    Social Education Pop Up Pages


    ps I think the MDN magic word dbase is weighted towards social rebellion, and subversive.

  6. Let me recap:
    I’m going with “Napster to go” for one month for $15.
    I’ll buy a small hard disk drive (say 80 GB) for $75.
    I’ll buy 1000 blank CD’s for $160.
    I download my favourite 17.000 Songs, invite friends to a “burning”-party and burn my songs to discs.

    Spend $250 once, and you’ll legally obtain enough music to fill all your future iPods.

  7. Original Napster was stealing from the record companies…

    New Napster steals from its customers…


    Ought to be $1 per month after one year. 50c after 2 years and 25c thereafter. Even then it would still be a pain.

  8. Would someone be kind enough to explain WTF the MAWPUP problem IS??? Is it some kind of pop-up window you people are seeing? (I for one don’t see any popups… Safari with popup blocking ON)

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