Napster to launch fee-based service by mid-year

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thomas Middelhoff, Bertelsmann's chief executive officer, announced there would be a second Napster service. Middelhoff said he expects the new service to go live in June or July.

"The new service will co-exist with the existing Napster service," said Frank Sarfeld, senior vice president of the Bertelsmann eCommerce Group, in an interview. "Internet users will still be able to use the current Napster service."

Sarfeld said a survey of 20,000 Napster users conducted in December by Webnoize showed that a large majority is willing to pay up to $US15 a month for the music download service. However, Sarfeld cautioned, this is no indication for what the fee will be. "We are not talking figures yet," he said.

In August, Napster Chief Executive Officer Hank Barry, who is also in Davos attending meetings with the world's business and political leaders this week, suggested a monthly charge of around $US5, but said that figure shouldn't be taken too seriously. Sarfeld agrees.

The second Napster model will pay artists and copyrights holders, Sarfeld said. Payment is needed, he said, "to ensure new music will be out there."

Sarfeld wouldn't go into detail, but he said the second Napster would offer better service than the existing one. "It will offer reliable downloads, files will be scanned for viruses, and all songs will be available all the time," Sarfeld said.

Bertelsmann formed a strategic alliance with Napster last October. The German giant has provided Napster with a loan when the company was fencing off claims from the record industry in court. It has been rumoured that Bertelsmann currently holds a majority stake in Napster. Sarfeld strongly denies this.

Napster's software, available for free download from Napster.com, allows swapping of music files in the MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3) format. The service has approximately 57 million users worldwide. The company has been in legal battles with all large record labels, which compare downloading via Napster to stealing compact discs from a record store.

To offer music, Napster will have to cut deals with record labels. The company has been successful in signing agreements with several smaller labels. Bertelsmann-owned BMG Entertainment Inc. is one of the largest ones. "Talks with the other labels are in progress," said Sarfeld.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joris Evers

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?