INTERNET MUSIC trailblazer and former music copyright lawsuit defendant, Napster announced today that it's opened the world's largest online MP3 store.
Napster's music catalogue reportedly contains more than six million tracks from all the major recording labels and many independents. It claims that its MP3 library is over 50 per cent larger than any of its competitors' music stores, although Amazon is said to have five million tunes available. Apple purports to have only two million DRM-free music tracks available online.
The company will offer all its MP3s free of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) controls, which is a change from Napster's earlier practice of flogging tunes encumbered by Microsoft's onerous 'playforsure' format. Napster also plans to continue its monthly subscription service using DRM, which makes it the first to offer an unlimited music subscription that also lets subscribers buy DRM free copies of songs they like enough to want to own.
Since they are DRM free, MP3s bought from Napster can be downloaded onto any MP3 player, including Ipods, and can be backed up, burned onto CD and transferred to other storage devices.
Some of Napster's music tracks will reportedly have identifying watermarks, however these will only identify the source as Napster, not the purchaser's ID.
Napster will sell individual MP3 tracks for 99 cents each and albums for $9.95. Most of its music catalogue, including releases from all major record labels, is encoded at the high quality MP3 bit-rate of 256kbps. Downloaded tracks will also include high resolution album art.
"Music fans have spoken and it’s clear they need the convenience, ease of use and broad interoperability of the DRM-free MP3 format, and they want to be able to find both major label artists and independent music all in one place. Napster is delighted to deliver all of this and more with the world’s largest MP3 catalogue," Napster's Chairman and CEO Chris Gorog said in a statement. µ
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