Napster was among the first of the peer-to-peer sites where music fans traded songs amongst each other and raised the ire of the RIAA and Metallica. Napster was also among the first to succumb to the legal crusade waged by the RIAA and remade itself into an unsuccessful “pay for” music site.
After more iterations and being purchased last year by Best Buy, Napster has again remade itself into something that Best Buy hopes will be successful and profitable -- the purchase of Napster cost Best Buy $121 million in cash.
The latest offering from Napster gives subscribers unlimited music streaming from a computer for $5 per month and provides users with five included DRM-free MP3 downloads each month.
The streaming service will only be offered to subscribers as long as they pay the monthly charge, but the five download tracks each month can be kept even if the service is cancelled.
Napster CEO Chris Gorog said in a statement, "There's no need to settle for 30-second clips to decide if you want to buy a song. For five bucks now you can have access to our entire music catalog and get five MP3s to add to your permanent collection."
The streaming library covers all of the major record labels and artists according to Napster and the catalog has over seven million songs total. The DRM-free tracks are compatible with the iPod, iPhone and any other MP3 capable device.
Best Buy SVP of entertainment Julie Owen said, "A decade ago, Napster revolutionized the way people discovered and enjoyed music. The brand that started it all is shaking things up again with a new service that provides music lovers continued access to the entertainment experience they've come to expect of Napster and Best Buy."
The new Napster service is available now to U.S. residents.
quote: The only thing that differentiates Napster's offering is the 5 downloads per month, which is almost laughable for being so miniscule.