Napster UK: First impressions

Yesterday I downloaded and installed the UK version of the all-new, all-legal Napster. It’s a Windows Media-based service which allows you, for £9.99 per month, to have unlimited albums streamed, with individual tracks and albums available for sale at either 99p per track or a variable amount per album – again, in copy protected WMA 9 format.
There’s a free seven-day trial of the streaming service, and so far I’ve been pretty impressed with it. Audio quality is very good, as you’d expect from WMA (which in tests I’ve done, is better sounding that either MP3 or AAC), and the selection of albums is broad enough to cater for most tastes: any service that has both the Best of Vardis and just about every album Ministry ever made is going to appeal to me.
So will I be ponying up the the £9.99 per month at the end of the trial period? Bare in mind that I’m a Mac user half the time, and there’s no Mac version of the service, and that I use an iPod, which doesn’t support WMA so I can’t – legally – download any music to it. On the basis of that, you’d think it wouldn’t be attractive: but in fact, I’ll probably subscribe. I view streamed services as a different market from paid-for ones where you own the music. Streaming gives me a chance to listen to music before I buy it, or to listen to things that I’d never bother putting on my iPod, or that I’d listen to so rarely that I don’t care about owning it. If you think of Napster as a £9.99 per month “super radio” that you have complete control over, it starts to make sense.
Of course, when the iTunes Music Store comes along – and despite the lock-in to iPod – I’ll probably be buying music from there as well. But I still envisage that most of my music will be bought in CD format and ripped to MP3, so that I can listen to it on any device.

  • joe

    Hint: Rhapsody is MUCH better than Napster. It might be worth waiting.

  • http://www.adam.tinworth.name/archives/2004/05/napster_gets_ta.html One Man + His Blog

    Napster gets Tacky

    Well, it looks like the pavement advertisers are at it again. A new Napster service launched last week, and they’re advertising it by spraying graffiti on the ground. How very charming. I don’t remember seeing this happening since the death of the dot…