Napster Re-launches, Offers $5/month Plan

Napster unveiled its latest plan to compete in the subscription music space by offering a $5 per month service that is similar to what Zune users enjoy. Through Napster’s latest offering, you’ll enjoy a combination of on-demand music streaming and five tracks to download and keep each month. At that price, you basically buy five tracks each month (assuming you’re paying $1 per track) and get the subscription service as a bonus.  

Under the terms of the new offer, users can listen to any track from Napster’s catalog of more than seven million songs as often as they like in CD quality. Users can also listen to more than 60 commercial-free radio stations and more than 1,400 expertly programmed playlists. To help you discover new music and artists, Napster will offer personalized recommendation tools. In addition, more than 50 years of Billboard charts will be available to users.

MP3s from Napster will be playable on any MP3 player including the iPod, iPhone, and music-enabled MP3 mobile phones. There’s a catch for the streaming titles, however: Unlike the MP3 downloads, streaming titles are DRM’ed and can only be played through your PC. In other words, you can’t move streaming titles to a portable device (a la Napster To Go, which is available for a higher fee, or Napster Mobile).

Napster’s new plan will be available starting at 5pm PST today. Mac users can access the plan through Firefox; Napster’s download manager software remains Windows-only.

Many of Napster’s other offerings are still available as well. For example, customers will still be able to buy DRM-free MP3s à la carte without having to subscribe to the new service. Individual songs typically sell for between 69 cents and $1.29.

Napster has taken quite a few paths over the years. After the original service was shut down in 2001, Napster re-launched as a legitimate music subscription service operated by software vendor Roxio in 2003. Napster later tried to compete with Apple’s popular iTunes Store and Amazon’s MP3 Store by offering DRM-free music beginning in May 2008. Napster was purchased by Best Buy for $121 million in September. It’ll be interesting to see if this latest offering from Napster will revive the company.