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Thursday, May 20, 2004
Napster launches UK music service


Napster has launched its legal music download service in the UK. Music lovers have the choice of paying a monthly subscription, or a pay per listen service, called Napster Light.

According to statements on BBC News Online, Napster users would have access to the "largest database of music in the UK" for 9.95 a month. Napster also said it was offering a free week-long trial of the full service.

In a deal with Dixons, Napster products, like branded blank CDs, CD wallets and CD labelling kits, as well as the service itself, will be promoted throughout its other stores, Curry's, PC World and The Link.

Napster, now owned by US firm Roxio, has also struck a further deal with Samsung to offer a branded portable music player in the UK by the end of the year.

Napster UK would provide a feel of the original file-sharing service, without breaching copyright. The service would be flexible, offering a choice of options.

This means subscribers could choose to pay 9.95 per month to listen to unlimited numbers of tracks from its 500,000-song catalogue, which Napster said would increase to 700,000 in the month after launch.

To be able to burn - or copy - the track onto a CD, or transfer it onto a portable device, would cost an extra 99 pence (88 pence if bought "in bulk") per track or 9.95 for an album.

That is comparable to Apple iTunes' catalogue, although Apple's service is still only available in the US.

Users can also opt for on-demand access, which lets then listen to 30 second clips of tunes, before choosing whether to download the full track for 1.09.

Napster faces competition in the UK music download market from Peter Gabriel's OD2 service, which offers downloads through Mycokemusic.com, Virgin, Wanadoo and MSN.

In March, Mycokemusic.com said it had become Europe's biggest legitimate music site, with 10,000 songs sold every week.

Virgin Megastores have also started to offer downloads for sale on their website.

Rival Tiscali, which also offers music downloads, questioned whether Napster would be able to won back the millions of people who once used the peer-to-peer service.


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