Napster Drops DRM, Will (Finally) Sell MP3s

Napster, once a file-sharing service that famously drug the RIAA kicking and litigating into the digital music era, will finally drop DRM and start selling mp3s, says Ars Technica.

The P2P-turned-legit subscription service announced this morning that it will begin selling unprotected copies of its entire catalog in MP3 format beginning in the second quarter of 2008. Users of the service will be able to buy individual DRM-free tracks and albums, but Napster’s subscription service will remain unchanged. The company hailed the announcement as the first subscription service “featuring major label content” to announce plans to sell unprotected MP3s.

All the details have not been ironed out, and Napster has not announced which record labels will be participating, but it’s still promising news.

Sort of makes you wonder: Couldn’t they have started doing this, like, 7 years ago?

Napster goes back to MP3s [Ars Technica]

Comments

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  1. JPropaganda says:

    I can’t remember the last time Napster was relevant.

  2. no.no.notorious says:

    i can’t wait for our kids to be reading about napster and the music industry chaos in their history books

  3. Trae says:

    @JPropaganda: I think it was 2000 – you know, the year the record companies had record CD sales.

    You know, the same year that they began attacking it.

    You know, the year the RIAA screwed itself.

  4. evslin says:

    @JPropaganda: 1999 sounds about right.

  5. Buran says:

    @JPropaganda: Back when it was actually free and didn’t try to screw you?

  6. JPropaganda says:

    @Buran: That was the best. Damn metallica, screwing it all up.

  7. DeeJayQueue says:

    Lars Ulrich ruined music for the rest of us. Go back to tennis you fucktard.

  8. snoop-blog says:

    @JPropaganda: can’t remember the last time i paid for music.

  9. Murph1908 says:

    I think I have figured out the RIAA’s new business model.

    1. Sell music in the DRM free model that people want.
    2. Wait for such DRM free files to be shared across P2P networks.
    3. Sue the people who share for $1000 per song.
    4. Profit!

  10. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Yeah, I’d say that Lars was the one spearheaded the lawsuit business model that the RIAA has been operating on for the past few years. I like Metallica, but Lars is a douche.

  11. JPropaganda says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: I actually spoke out in favor of metallica on an mtv special for the Summer Sanitarium concert. How naive I was…

    @snoop-blog: I can. Radiohead, In Rainbows. I paid 1 pence.

  12. Geekybiker says:

    I wonder if they will match Amazon’s 256k quality? Napster’s interface is alot better for browsing music than Amazon.

  13. MonkeyMonk says:

    ” as the first subscription service “featuring major label content” to announce plans to sell unprotected MP3s.”

    Blah, that’s a really useless statement. Give me Emusic “the first mp3 subscription service featuring music that doesn’t suck” any day.

  14. spinachdip says:

    @Geekybiker: FWIW, Amazon’s interface is nothing short of fantastic when it comes to buying music and importing it into your iTunes (or whatever) library.

    Also, I kinda get the feeling that the majors (except EMI) are going to make DRM-free music available for everyone but iTunes for, at least partially, not making their DRM stricter. That would be some tasty, collusive irony.

  15. Buran says:

    @MonkeyMonk: Emusic is great. Except they don’t carry the music I want.

    That’s why they’re irrelevant to most people. Great setup, decent prices, decent infrastructure, website isn’t too hard to use.

    But it’s about selection, selection, selection. And they’ll stay irrelevant until they sell what people want to buy.

    And no, I’m not a Hannah Montana fan or anything like that.

  16. spinachdip says:

    @Buran: I’m willing to bet that they can afford to be customer-friendly because they don’t deal with the majors. They don’t have the muscle of Amazon or Apple to dictate the terms to the labels. Which is cool, better to serve a niche audience and provide a quality product than to try to overstretch. I’m sure they’re fine with irrelevance as long as they’re viable.

  17. Propaniac says:

    Oh, come on. A typo is one thing, but “drug”? WHY DOES NOBODY KNOW HOW TO CONJUGATE ENGLISH VERBS ANYMORE? It’s all “drug this” and “had went” there and “had drank” that.

  18. karmaghost says:

    Gah, my university dropped Napster back when I had to use FairUse4WM to kill the DRM. It sucked, but it was a quick, easy, and “legal” way to get the songs I wanted. Now we have Ruckus, which is even worse, if you can believe that.

  19. magic8ball says:

    @Propaniac: Don’t forget “shrunk” instead of “shrank” and “sunk” instead of “sank,” as in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” and “the ship sunk without a trace.”

  20. goodkitty says:

    I’m not touching music downloads, DRM or not, until they come lossless. I don’t mind lossy tracks for fun but I’m not going to pay money and have to archive something that isn’t the same as what I’d get if I just bought the CD (or downloaded the higher-quality ‘pirate’ mp3 version).

  21. NickRB says:

    WOW Napster will begin selling MP3 files! How positively outdated of them. The best file format for music today is the MP4 more commonly known as AAC. It has higher compression and also takes less processing power to decode, which results in better battery life for players. Plus the higher sound quality. I hope this was a simple clerical error, and they meant AAC files.

  22. kc2idf says:

    @Murph1908:

    I think I have figured out the RIAA’s new business model.

    1. Sell music in the DRM free model that people want.
    2. Wait for such DRM free files to be shared across P2P networks.
    3. Sue the people who share for $1000 per song.
    4. Profit!

    Yes, but that is a perfectly sane business model. If they get the word around that sharing content will not be tolerated, but that you can otherwise do whatever you want with it, and then they prosecute and penalise violators, they will have reached the point where their business dealings, at least with the customer, are fully legit.

    They will have provided what the customer has been asking for, while still looking out for their own interests.

    Now, mind you, they do need to keep an eye on their prices. CDs have always been too expensive. If they hadn’t buggered up that one in the first place, I think piracy would have been no-where near as rampant.

  23. kc2idf says:

    @NickRB:

    WOW Napster will begin selling MP3 files! How positively outdated of them. The best file format for music today is the MP4 more commonly known as AAC. It has higher compression and also takes less processing power to decode, which results in better battery life for players. Plus the higher sound quality. I hope this was a simple clerical error, and they meant AAC files.

    You know, I almost agree with you. Almost.

    While there are very good arguments in favour of AAC (and you make them), there is a lot of hardware that plays MP3s, and not so much that plays AAC.

    I, for one, don’t have any intentions of upgrading my MP3 player until it actually dies.

    My DVD recorder also plays MP3 files off of DVDs/CDs, but does not play AAC files. I would have to convert AAC files to something else to use them there.

    As such, I think that, at least for the moment, MP3 is the right choice. Maybe in a few years, AAC may be a good choice, once more hardware that plays it has been deployed.

  24. grebby says:

    If the record industry had taken its collective head out of its collective ass in 1999 and realized the $17.99 CD gravy train was over, and sold music online when the technology and demand were clearly there, they would never have had to sue anyone.

  25. morsteen says:

    Pioneers are always scrutinized and criticized. You know damn well rich or not rich if it was your living you wouldn’t let so much of it be given away. And small bands who need the free publicity still pay for studio time to make that demo. It just cost us $1,000 for four 8 hour days of recording. Took two days for just the drums. We’re all struggling just to make rent, and at the same time pursue this overly expensive dream. So ya know it would be cool if people could throw down the money instead of leeching. Would you rather go half with our studio costs? or buy the cd for 5-10 bucks? Get the fuck over it.

  26. tipsguru says:

    i don’t think ppls like Napster anymore, now a days downloading mp3 is a matter of a second. there are many search engines for finding songs like [www.seekmp3.info] . these site mp3 search engines are fast,free and legal. so people will start using these types of things instead of Napster.