Napster’s math does not add up

“Whether you like Napster To Go, Napster Inc.’s new music subscription service, depends on whether you think of it as all-you-can-eat or all-you-can-pay. Both descriptions are accurate. For $15 a month, Napster To Go offers unlimited song downloads in a copy-restricted format that can be played on computers with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP operating system and some digital music players,” Rob Pegoraro writes for The Washington Post in an article syndicated by The Northwest Herald. “But these songs expire if you do not keep paying that fee each month.”

“Because this underlying software is so new, Napster To Go is the least compatible music store in existence. You can use it only on a Windows XP computer running Windows Media Player 10, and you can transfer your downloads only to a Windows Media-compatible player that includes special software and circuitry to enforce the pay-to-play deal,” Pegoraro writes. “So, these downloads do not play on Apple’s iPods. They also do not work on most non-Apple players. What Napster’s ads ignore is that most people already own a significant music collection, so how many songs will they rent?”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Napster’s dirty little secret: changing subscription services into downloads is easy – February 18, 2005
AOL removes Napster pirate plug-in ‘Output Stacker’ from website – February 17, 2005
Napster feels the heat over flawed copy-protection scheme – February 17, 2005
Apple CEO Steve Jobs warns record industry of Napster To Go’s security gap – February 16, 2005
Users thwart Napster To Go’s copy protection; do the music labels realize the piracy potential? – February 15, 2005
Napster-To-Go’s ‘rental music’ DRM circumvented – February 14, 2005


  1. Why on earth would ANYONE find this ‘deal’ from Napster appealing – subscriptions suck, just like those tacky magazines that let you build your own model boat – first issue only £2.99, then £4.99 per copy after that, 100 editions in total. So you end up paying £497.00 for a crappy boat that costs £5.00 to produce – yeh right.

    Do us all a favour Napster and just fsck off!

    (Magic word: got – as in you’ve GOT to be kidding me!

  2. One limitiation I see with the iTunes store is that it’s somewhat hard to find new music/artists that may interest you. A subscription service as an *add-on* to the current store would let you essentially try before you buy.

    Sure there are the shared playlists which might point you to new bands, but they don’t go far enough IMHO.

    (That’s another reason why I think an ipod/satellite combo is a good idea, hear new bands on the radio, buy on ITunes with the click of a button. Sure regular FM could work the same, but their playlists are too homogenized and corporate controlled. Satellite could have a broader range with deeper focus)

  3. I will rent Nothing! Wast of money. All you can pay is what Napster is all about for sure. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cool grin” style=”border:0;” />

  4. Did anyone catch Robin Williams’ mention of the iPod last night at the Oscars? When going through the nominees for animated feature, he said, “Don’t worry about the Pixar people, they’ve got iPod stock.” Nice little free plug to an audience of, oh, about 100 million viewers. No mention of Napster-To-Go-Broke.

    And, thankfully, Pixar won the Oscar, as they deserved.

  5. Or how about $5.00 a month for a subscription stream service? You pick the songs yet you can only play them by stream. With the option to buy at $0.89 any song you stream more than 5 times a month.

  6. I’m sick of seeing those “Do The Math” ads. I get maybe two or three emails a week since the Superbowl from people asking me about the Napster service. I kindly send them a list of links explaining why that Napster service is a joke. Usually a few days later, at least one of the persons who emailed me had bought an iPod and consequently loves the iPod/iTunes combo.

    Napster is a joke.

  7. The war is over.

    Apple 1
    rest of world 0

    Bare in mind that nothing lasts forever. The Walkman is in the dust, as is vinyl. Who’s to say that some better way of hearing music than iPod is not just around the corner? I can’t see it myself, but historically speaking it’s inevitable.

  8. Peragrin,
    I like your suggestion, but I think that Apple could do something a bit more original than that. Something with that characteristic ‘Wow’ factor.

    I’m not sure that I’d like to be offered access to a squillion songs, knowing that I’m only likely to enjoy a very small proportion of them. It would seem like a lot of hassle having to trawl through the dross to find the good stuff.

    Instead I’d prefer Apple to do the work for me, so that I could concentrate on enjoying music.

    On iTunes or my iPod, I already have a collection of music. I also have the facility to rate it and iTunes knows how frequently I play each track.

    Therefore iTunes already has an indicator of my musical tastes.

    I would welcome a scheme where for a nominal monthly fee, Apple selects maybe 500 or 1,000 songs that might also appeal to me. They’d be available to be listened to on iTunes or an iPod for 30 days or so, but wouldn’t be accessible to be used within iLife and couldn’t be exported or burnt to CD.

    The selection would be inspired by my existing choices, but there would be a new slider control in iTunes to set how much tolerance those choices should have. If you loosen up the tolerance, you will get introduced to some entirely new artists and styles that are known to appeal to people who have similar taste to you, on the other hand, if you tighten down the tolerance, you’ll get stuff that is pretty well like what you already listen to.

    When you play the music, if you skip that track, iTunes will be aware that you didn’t like it and then downgrade it. Anything you listen to repeatedly will achieve a higher status as an indicator of your preferences.

    The way that this would be sold is that you’re not being overwhelmed with an indiscriminate mass of tracks, but that you’re being introduced to new stuff that you’ll probably enjoy.

    The scheme would have to be run with total integrity. There could be no suggestion that promoters could pay to have tracks targeted at listeners. The only criteria allowed should be that the selection is inspired solely from the proven taste of that listener.

    Apple could also offer normal downloads of this month’s tracks at promotional prices too as an incentive to buy.

    It would be so much more valuable to have 500 interesting tracks each month, than 1,000,000 crappy ones.

    “All the music you like – but only music you like”.

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