NOISE GATE: Napster 4.6 – the return of Napster?

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napster-logo.jpgAhhhh, Napster. Back in 1999, I sat there for days, on a 56kbps connection, downloading music. As a result of that, and Audiogalaxy, I became an enormous music fan and I’ve spent thousands of pounds on music over the years that I’m very convinced that I wouldn’t have spent if it hadn’t been so easy to ‘try before you buy’.

Today the news broke that Napster’s relaunching in the UK. Of course, it’s not the real Napster – it’s what was formerly Roxio – a DRM-based subscription service. The company has just released version 4.6 of its player, which purports to allow subscribers to access and play their music on any internet-connected computer, without downloading any software.

“Streaming” is the name of the game, basically, and it seems like the company’s trying to avoid a rush of users over to Spotify. If you’re a subscriber, for a tenner a month, you’ll be able to access over seven million tracks from half a million artists.

There’s also an ‘automix’ functionality in the new software – a recommendation engine that’ll generate playlists for you based on a bunch of preset “moods”. New moods can be created, too.

*However* – my sources with subscriptions (I don’t have one myself) are telling me that they’ve royally screwed the launch up. The web player requires IE7, which immediately rules out 60% of Tech Digest’s readership, as well as making the “any internet-connected computer” claim a bit of a joke – it’s clearly for Windows users only.

If you’ve got a subscription, then I’d love to hear your thoughts on Napster 4.6. Is it better? Is it actually good? Could it ever compete with Spotify’s brilliance? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Napster UK (via MusicWeek)

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Duncan Geere

13 comments

  • This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. Thanks.

  • Yes we are really disappointed with the changes to Napster. It used to be brilliant but now we can’t get into it easily and we are regrettably thinking of unsubscribing but not sure what to use instead. Surely they will loose a lot of customers now that the have ruined it!

  • Some other experiences. I am a Napster subscriber. I was annoyed and concerned to find I could not access something I *had paid for* without new software. This suggested to me that Napster had also changed their ‘back office’ system as well so old software would not work, hence forcing all users to upgrade.

    Napster mistake No1:- Fundamental rule of software:- DO NOT CHANGE TWO CRITICAL SYSTEMS SIMULTANEOUSLY. When it screws up it is usually impossible to determine where. Build a new client – make it work with the existing back office and work from there.

    I suspect Napster’s amateurish approach accounts for many of the issues they are now suffering from.

    A good client should not require Admin rights except for very special reasons. A client should not corrupt User rights and require a user to create a new account.

    Napster failure no2:- Do not screw up your customers machines with faulty software. We pay for this so make it work before releasing.forcing it upon us.

    Now I feel lucky, I have got Napster 4.6 going, but it has numerous serious bugs. And I have had confirmation from Napster tech support that they are dealing with a lot of bugs. So I asked (tongue in cheek) If I could return to an older version of the client, he said no because they had changed ‘the way the database back end’, thus proving my point above.

    As I speak the client crashes in some 25 different situations, on restart does not come back cleanly, and even after a maching restart will not always come back cleanly. There are even plain and clear annoyances such not remembering sign in details. Surely no half wit tester should have missed that? I can only assume that the company do not understand software whatsoever, or are too tight to test it properly after they have got the code back from the poorly paid slaves who have to write this stuff.

    Napster – I’ve finished with your crummy company, and I hope others will vote with their feet.

  • Having the same problems as other users can’t sign in to download and can only listen to music through their web service – no good if I want to transfer to my Creative Labs player. I have a full subscription and their support team took 3 days to reply telling me the same as was on the FAQ – none of which worked. Everything was working fine until the latest version was installed. Really poor from Napster – can anyone recommend an alternative subscription download service (not iTunes though).

  • Hey guys
    I had the exact same problem after downloading version 4.6 so I emailed them and luckily they got back to me within 24 hours. The email told me to set a load of different internet options back to default, which is the exact same set of instructions as was on the FAQs on the Napster website. This did not work.
    So I rang them up and was put on hold for about 15 mins before I spoke to this clueless technical assistant, who told me to do exactly what they had told me to do in the email, which suprisingly, did not work. So she put me on hold to speak to another technical assistant who seemed to know what he was talking about and we went through the process of checking my firewalls (which I had already done) and resetting my startup settings, both of which did not work.
    And when I thought that I would have to say goodbye unsubscribe from napster, he told me that the problem was that my User Profile on Windows had lost some administrative abilities (or something along those lines) so I needed to create a new User Account, which worked, and I am now signed back in to Napster. Hallelujah! The only downside of this is that I have to either use this new account solely for Napster and interchange between it and my old account, or transfer all my settings from my old account to the new one. The advisor also said that the only other alternative would be to re-install windows, which I really cannot be bothered to do.
    Anyway, I hope this helps! Oh and I was on the phone for a total of 1 hour and 9 minutes, about 40 minutes of which I was on hold. Luckily it was free.

  • Yet more fruitless days on the phone with Napster customer support before this weekend. Useless. Still cannot sign in. One guy got me to download various bits of software from their “secret” Napster support downloads page – made no difference. Another claimed it was my firewall, but Napster is fully enabled. What a shame. In a fit of pique I told one particularly unhelpful girl “support” that I wanted to unsubscribe, which she has duly done, tho’ my sub runs few more days.
    Still, a surf of the net to see if anyone else is having similar probs has only yielded one or two (possibly both from the same person) other complaints so far, so may it’s “just me” (or nearly so).

    What a shame; I had really enoyed listening to Napster, including on my MP3 player, and had built up an extensive library over the years. Now it looks as if it’s goodbye.

  • Absolute disaster. Everything was working perfectly with the old version, but can’t connect at all with version 4 – get the error message :

    “Sorry, some of your account information could not be accessed. Please sign in again. If this message persists and you are behind a proxy server, you may need to change the proxy’s configuration tobe able to access Napster.”

    Can’t even revert to the old version, as it insists on upgrading when you try to log in. Emailed customer support TWICE, no reply. Crap service.

    • S**T absolute S**t

      EXACTLY THE SAME ERROR MESSAGE AS ABOVE

      Absolute disaster. Everything was working perfectly with the old version, but can’t connect at all with version 4 – get the error message :

      “Sorry, some of your account information could not be accessed. Please sign in again. If this message persists and you are behind a proxy server, you may need to change the proxy’s configuration to be able to access Napster.”

  • Further to my comment above about not being able to sign in after downloading 4.6, I found from Napster customer support on Monday (after wasting a lot of time over the weekend trying to resolve the issue myself) that the napster.co.uk “server is down”. So it appears that the problem was not so much the new sofware as the server breakdown. They say they have been working “around the clock” to resolve the problem. The server seems to have been down for at least the past four days now. I can only use the player offline at the moment.

  • Hi n2,

    Do you know if Napster is also working with the latest Samsung Emodio software. I’m about to pre-order the Samsung YP-P3 (bceause of bluetooth and Wi-Fi) but I absoloutly don’t know if Napster and EMODIO is working with eachother. iTunes didn’t :((

  • I have completely messed up my Napster, which I had been quite happy with for the past two years, by downloading the software from http://www.napster.co.uk
    I can’t even sign in now, not from the Napster icon and not from the napster.co.uk page. When I press sign in, the sign in page just does not load. So I really regret strying to instal it!

  • I’ve a subscription, yea brilliant. I can’t download the new version though so I’m just trying out the web player thing, seems good. I’ve got an acer aspire one laptop and it works well on it (linux), it doesn’t just work on IE7? it works on Firefox too 🙂 Apparantly it works on mac too. I’m glad they have something like this because before I had no way of playing music on my linux laptop. Problem solved!

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