LOS ANGELES (Hypebot) –
I've spent some time on the new Napster service over the last few days, and aside from a less than intuitive interface, I can't find much to dislike. At just $5 a month for unlimited streaming of a deep catalog along with 5 mp3's monthly, the service is effectively free. And if I'm in Napster previewing a track or album (and since they've already got my credit card), why not just buy it there instead of jumping over to Amazon or iTunes?
Reports are that Napster got a special deal on streaming licenses from the labels in part because they tied listening so closely to purchase. There is probably no one size fits all model that will dominate the digital music future. Many (myself included) love Spotify both for its model and an iTunes like interface. But imeem, Pandora, Last.fm and others also each approach music discovery and enjoyment from their own intriguing angles.
I suspect that there's an audience for the new $5 model, particularly for those comfortable with the Napster and parent Best Buy brands.
-by Bruce Houghton