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Napster Going Back to Free Downloads 260

conq writes "BusinessWeek reports on Napster's latest move to allow the download of free music. This time the service will be supported by online ads." From the article: "With Napster's new free service, 'we'll be able to help millions of people get out of the world of 30-second clips and of having to buy individual songs,' Gorog says. 'I don't think there's anything better we could do to turn people onto the pleasures of unlimited, legal access to music.'"
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Napster Going Back to Free Downloads

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  • It works great! (Score:4, Informative)

    by crazyjeremy ( 857410 ) * on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:26PM (#15250655) Homepage Journal
    Just signed up. It works GREAT! Wonder how long it will last.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:26PM (#15250660) Journal
    is it going to be music worth hearing?
  • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:30PM (#15250678)
    Isn't this the sort of business practice that led to the dot com boom in the first place? They're going to give everything away and hope that advertising money eventually catches up. Something tells me this isn't going to work. Maybe they'll ad a feature where they pay you for each advertiser's banner you click on.
    • They're going to give everything away and hope that advertising money eventually catches up

      Seems to work out for Google.
    • Read the article. You can only listen to a particular song five times. They're not depending on advertising, they're depending on you finding a song you like and buying it, because you want to listen to it more than five times.
    • Isn't this the sort of business practice that led to the dot com boom in the first place? They're going to give everything away and hope that advertising money eventually catches up.

      Business models which rely on ad revenue to pay for content users receive for free is not necessarily a bad model. These models are often blamed for the dotcom boom/bust, but undeniably they can work. There are a ton of successful sites that have built a steady revenue stream solely from ads -- you're on one right now.

      There are

    • They're not going to "give everything away." Or at least, not at this time.

      Right now, you get to listen to a sing up to five times. You can't save it. If you like it, you still have to pay for it. The selection is pitifully small. Click on rock. Look at the list of bands. Just pitiful.

      So in the end, you probably don't have the tune you wanted, you have limited listening times, you have to be on napster to actually listen, and eventually, they want you to pay.

      At least, that's how I read what the site t

  • From TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by HeavensBlade23 ( 946140 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:31PM (#15250685)
    "On May 1, the Los Angeles-based company announced a new Web-based version of its software, along with a new service that lets users listen to any song among its catalog of 2 million songs absolutely free -- so long as they don't want to listen to any one song more than five times." I don't expect them to have much success finding a larger userbase under those terms.
    • Assuming it's completely free one can use this to listen to songs and then use it in conjunction with itunes if they truly enjoy a song.
    • Re:From TFA (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vondo ( 303621 ) *
      Sounds pretty good to me. Aside from collecting stuff I can't buy, I've always used P2P to find music I want to buy. I've bought several things I wouldn't have otherwise. If music is good enough, I am happy to pay $15 an album for it (as long as I am not getting some compressed, DRMed POS.)
  • Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pHatidic ( 163975 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:33PM (#15250693)
    Will they let me listen to standup comedy? It's rare that I ever would want to listen to the same sketch more than five times anyway.
  • by WeAzElMaN ( 667859 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:34PM (#15250699)
    The new service allows users to listen to any song for free up to five times - and it's streamed over Napster's site; you're not downloading anything. I think it's a great marketing move and it works perfectly, but Napster's not returning to the Glory Days, boys.
  • by cyngus ( 753668 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:34PM (#15250702)
    I think this is really great news for me and for Apple. I can see getting a lot of use out of this, but not the way Napster intends. Now I can preview the full song a couple of times, then I can go to iTunes and buy it for my iPod, Sweet! Also, let the hacking begin to record the audio stream from your five free plays.
    • If by "hacking" you mean "using Windows Sound Recorder and bypassing my microphone jack with my soundcard"...
    • As posted above, the bitrate is garbage so you can't really even record it, which IMHO would be the only good use for this service.
  • Or use Pandora (Score:5, Informative)

    by LetterRip ( 30937 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:37PM (#15250722)
    Well since I love it so, I'll pimp it bit :)

    Try [] it is absolutely amazing for discovering new music. Not really a replacement for this feature from Napster, but quite complementary.

    • by XanC ( 644172 )
      Yeah... What's with the Flash?
    • I mostly have to agree with this, and I'm hearing lots of good music there, but I do have one precaution -- it's better to have several stations if you're into several kinds of music. It's not especially good at mixing genres (somehow heavy metal+punk=emo at pandora...yeggh). It is really cool that they save your profile so that you can stream mostly good music anywhere.
    • Shhhhhh... Lest the mod 5 slashdot effect ruin it...

      I agree , it is pretty good. Like radio without the Djs..

    • I've had less thrilling results from Pandora. If you pick an artist or a song, you're likely to hear more of that artists less popular work, as if you weren't already familiar with them. If you want to hear what you already know about (but for some reason don't already have) then Pandora is fine. As far as discovering new music, I can only speak from my experience in that the bands I'd never heard of (which were few and far between, and I'm not exactly a musical encyclopedia) did not catch my ear. I'd w
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:41PM (#15250741)
    'I don't think there's anything better we could do to turn people onto the pleasures of unlimited, legal access to music.'"

    Where I come from, "unlimited" doesn't mean "five or less."

    Gorog must gotten his definition of "unlimited" from the same dictionary Gates and Ballmer used to define "innovation" and "choice."
    • He didn't say this is unlimited, legal access to music. He said this is to *turn people on* to unlimited, legal access to music. This isn't it, this is the free bit to hook you in.

    • Nah, more like NetFlix.

      "Unlimited" rental per month ...

      as long as you rent only once a week ...

      as long as you don't return it too fast ...

      as long as you didn't return damanged DVD ...

      ok ok, for the last time, as long as postal service doesn't decide to route your DVD across the country (oops! lol) ...

      NetFlix! It's "Unlimited" !
    • It doesn't say unlimited access to any given song, just unlimited access to *music*. And to that extent, they're not far off. Napster has 2 million songs, so even if you listen to each one only once, and listen for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you're gonna be listening for at least a decade and a half and probably closer to two. And that assumes that their library doesn't expand. If you listen to each song twice, and only 12 hours a day (but still 7 days a week), there's a good chance you'll be dead befor
  • by shumacher ( 199043 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:48PM (#15250763)
    I've been using it quite a bit today. While you cannot download with the free service, streaming seems to work quite well. I even listened to an album, and the intersitial ads (which had no audio) only came up four times while listening to a 13 track album. Plus, it's great to be able to put a link into a message board or email when talking about a certain track.

    I think it's a good thing. Now, if they can keep it from being annoying even after they have some advertisers, it will be amazing.
  • Sweet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:48PM (#15250764) Homepage
    Tech bubbles are awesome.

    I hear a lot of people lamenting the current growth of a new tech bubble. While there are many bad things that come from tech bubbles, I think everybody's forgetting the good stuff that comes as well. In particular I'm thinking of all the stuff that companies start giving away for free or for supercheap, whether its because they think they can cover their costs with ad revenues, because they want to build users or just because they've got VC to burn and no business plan, tech startups just love to give people free shit and I think that's awesome.
  • by Saint37 ( 932002 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:51PM (#15250777)
    Regardless of whether or not the new free try model increases revenue, interoperability issues will still keep me away. If I can't play it on my digital player, why would this interest me. Maybe people who figure out how to pirate the songs will love the service and thats about it. []
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:59PM (#15250812) Homepage Journal
    I have a grand idea. Perhaps they could find a way to transmit quality audio to a large number of people, say over a wireless or wire connection. And say they bought a bunch of recordings that were popular and people wanted to listen to and played these recordings. Then, when they had a bunch of people listening, they could have firm pay to talk to these people about products and services these firms were selling, thereby generating a revenue stream to offset the costs of the tranmision and recording and labor. And to get the listeners more involved, perhaps the listeners could choose the recording that were played.

    My God, this is at least as original one click shopping. I must go out and patent it. Now none of y'all get the idea of stealing it from me!

  • Oh, but... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Davus ( 905996 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @09:59PM (#15250813) Homepage
    Does it run Linux?
  • I see all these sites trying to get me to download "free" songs but there is ALWAYS a catch, and it is always a catch that makes it not worth it. Here at RIT we have CTRAX - same thing. Free music, as long as you don't want to keep it longer than a month or burn it to a CD. RIAA, MPAA, Microsoft, etc.: We want to KEEP what we buy and what we do with it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Until they all realize this, pirating will stay on the rise. If you don't believe me, keep making those stupid EULAs and coming up
  • by Who235 ( 959706 ) <secretagentx9@ci ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @10:07PM (#15250850)
    . . .Replay music. [] But doing so would be wrong, so don't do it. Ever.
  • works for me... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lawngnome ( 573912 )
    Just tried the streaming service in firefox (a major complaint of yahoo music) and it worked great... Looks like they learned a thing or two...
  • Back? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@AAAtpno ... inus threevowels> on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @10:09PM (#15250859) Homepage
    You can't go back to something that you never did.

    The company that wears the napster costume isn't the original napters any more than I am.
  • garbage. Even if I could rip this straight from the stream, I wouldn't want to.
  • Piracy rationale (Score:2, Insightful)

    by siwelwerd ( 869956 )
    I think this could be a very useful service. One of the main defenses I hear from music pirates is that they are trying the music, and usually buy later quite a bit of what they download. With a service like this, why bother pirating when you can legally download a song/album, listen to it 5 times and decide if you want to purchase it?
    • With a service like this, why bother pirating when you can legally download a song/album, listen to it 5 times and decide if you want to purchase it?

      Because that involves purchasing it? Versus pirating it, which doesn't?

      Seems like piracy is still ahead to me. Of course, there's always the risk of getting caught...

      (Personally, I never much enjoyed the bulk of pirated songs because the quality sucks so much; whoever thought that 128kb/s MP3 was "CD quality" ought to be shot.)
  • by telbij ( 465356 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @10:22PM (#15250917)
    Here's an idea: lose the Napster brand

    Six years ago Napster was hot. Everyone who matters (to the music industry) used it. The brand was synonymous with "listen to whatever you want whenever you want". However, the digital music market changes quickly. Napster is now synonymous with "shitty overpriced service". If they can come up with a truly great service they are better off starting from scratch than slapping a Napster label on it. If they succeed it will be despite the brand.
  • by jdavidb ( 449077 ) * on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @10:30PM (#15250940) Homepage Journal

    By somehow, I'm betting that it still won't be what Napster was in the glory days: a way to get old niche music that was out of publication and liked by me but not that many other people.

  • by M0b1u5 ( 569472 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @10:31PM (#15250944) Homepage
    "BOOHOOS! The bad nasty manses don't wants me twos save teh muzak I listen 2 online. OH NOS!"

    Look, it's not exactly rocket surgery:

    Use a simple application to record the sound output of your PC sound card. Click "record" just before playback starts and click "stop" when the song ends.

    Most of these apps let you name the file after you click STOP. You can usually set the quality to your preference - but if it's dished out at 192Kb/s then you'd obviously want to record at no greater than 192Kb/s.

    This would be just the same as recording from the radio - sans the stupid cassette tapes. It takes like an additional 5 seconds to name the song, and specify where to save it.

    Good Lord - stop bitching!

  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @10:46PM (#15251018) Homepage Journal
    This proves that piracy was never the issue, and the RIAA knows it. The real issue has always been that digital distribution eventually renders the RIAA member companies irrelevant. View this as an early desparation move. Maybe they're even moving early enough to stay a little bit relevant for the long term.
    • I'm not really following that line of logic. I'll agree that the RIAA is freaked over a change in their business model, but their job is promoting bands, mastering recordings, and vending them. How exactly does selling their stuff online through Napster demonstrate their irrelevance? Do you think that teeny boppers aren't going to buy Brittney through this channel?
  • Pay service (Score:2, Interesting)

    The article says Napster isn't compatible with ipods? Is this true of their pay service to download music as well? What format do they use? Ogg? MPC?
    • Re:Pay service (Score:3, Informative)

      by MDGordon ( 842465 )
      Worse. They use wma files.
      • That's insane. It's like they are intentionally alienating the largest portion of the MP3 player market.
        • That's insane. It's like they are intentionally alienating the largest portion of the MP3 player market.

          Well, only sort of. An iPod will play only one DRM-enabled media format: FairPlay. FairPlay is currently available for use by one company: Apple. If you want to sell DRMed media and you're not Apple, it's just not going to play on the iPod.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court