Before you ask, yes Napster does indeed still exist. What’s more, with a current subscriber base of around 700,000 it’s still a pretty respectable offering. Napster’s current incarnation offers three main plans for accessing its library of over six million songs; the first is an iTunes-like music download service that provides a la carte tracks for 99¢ and album downloads for $6.95 and up. A basic subscription service allows users to pay $12.95 per month for unlimited streaming to any PC and download access (up to three PCs) to the full Napster library, though you’ll need to purchase tracks before they can be transferred to a portable device or burned to a CD. Finally, Napster To Go rings up at $14.95 per month and adds unlimited transfers to any compatible portable device. Napster To Go subscribers still must purchase tracks before they can burn them to a CD. So now that you’re up to date on Shawn Fanning’s storied brainchild, get ready to watch it go corporate. Best Buy has announced that it will shell out $121 million to acquire the nearly-forgotten game-changer and the current management team will stay on to run the show. The boys from Metallica must be rolling over in their graves. Oh wait, apparently they’re still alive too! Live and learn. Congrats to the Napster team – we wonder how long it will be before Napster cards replace all of those iTunes gift cards currently dangling around Best Buy registers.
This morning Nokia announced a major victory in its fight to become a digital music retailer. Warner Music Group, one of the biggest record labels in the industry, has signed on as a content provider for Nokia’s still-unfolding ‘Comes With Music’ offering. We have discussed Comes With Music a few times here on BGR but the concept in a nutshell is that Nokia is building a mobile music service. The mobile music store has already launched in several regions and Comes With Music would grant purchasers of certain handsets a year of all-you-can-eat free music downloads from said store. Nokia has stated that Comes With Music will launch in the second half of this year but the all-knowing interweb has had mixed feelings about the potential of the offering. We think that if Nokia can be a bit more forward-thinking and throw some technology advancements into the mix they could really have a winner on their hands. As it stands now however, we’re not sure we’ve seen enough innovation to really make Nokia’s offering stand out. Playing catch-up just isn’t going to cut it in this day and age so hopefully Nokia has a few surprises waiting for us at the launch.