Ahhhh, 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.