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Napster's price war
Can a cheaper subscription plan revive the music download site?
 

“Napster is back,” said Eric Savitz in Barron’s. Okay, it never truly went away, but new owner Best Buy has relaunched the music website with a cheaper, $5-a-month service providing subscribers with five MP3 downloads and unlimited streaming of Napster‘s 7 million songs. It will be interesting to see whether the service catches on.

The price-cut—down from $13 a month—is “a helluva deal for the real music lover,” said Peter Burrows in BusinessWeek, but it won’t be enough to revive Napster. “This new Napster offering is only for use on your PC or laptop. In this era of smart-phone mania, most people want to play their music wherever they want to play it.”

Napster offers a $14.95 plan for downloading music to cell phones and other portable devices, said Saul Hansell in The New York Times, just “not any that most people want to own.” But it’s not alone—the whole industry has to get better at connecting to music lovers’ cell phones if subscription music service is to survive. At least Napster’s new deal shows the “music industry is becoming more flexible in its pricing.”

 

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