Napster, the online music service which returned yesterday, will launch officially on 29 October.
Now in beta testing, Napster 2.0 will offer US music fans a digital music library with more than 500,000 songs available for downloading individually for 99 cents. Albums will also be available for $9.95.
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Napster is also selling subscriptions for $9.95 per month, which give users unlimited listening and downloading to their hard drives, 40 commercial-free radio stations and community features, such as the ability to share playlists and e-mail tracks with other Napster users.
While the monthly subscription allows unlimited downloading of songs to the users' hard drives, users would have to pay 99 cents for each song they want to burn to a CD or transfer to a portable device.
Napster 2.0 is available only to Windows users and there are no plans to support the Macintosh platform.
For no charge, anyone can download the Napster 2.0 service to watch music videos on demand, listen to 30-second music clips, access Billboard charts, read Napster's online magazine, Fuzz, and use a music recommendation engine.
Users can also upload music files from their hard drives to Napster 2.0, ito have all their music files in one place. Fans can pre-register for the service now at www.napster.com.
Napster also announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics to develop portable audio devices. The first Samsung-Napster player will be available starting on 19 October in Best Buy stores in the US.
A partnership with Microsoft will make Napster the featured music service on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004. Microsoft will also be included in Windows Media Player 9.
Finally, buyers of Gateway Media Center PCs will receive one month's access to Napster 2.0 free of charge if they purchase the machine during the fourth quarter. Later this year, Gateway will be the only PC company to ship Napster on all of its consumer desktop PCs, along with 150 preloaded songs.
Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG News Service