Santa Clara, Calif.-based Roxio plans to bundle the reborn Napster 2.0 service with its popular CD/DVD burning software and roll out what it calls the first online music play offering unlimited a la carte downloads alongside a subscription option.
Roxio is the software maker behind one of the best selling digital media software programs in the world. The company released the latest iteration of the program in February, dubbed Easy CD & DVD Creator 6.0 Platinum. The Roxio with Napster release is expected in time for the Christmas holidays.
Roxio, which surprised many players in the sector with its $40 million acquisition of Pressplay, is expected to provide details of the Napster relaunch at Monday's Jupiter Plug.IN Conference & Expo when chief executive Chris Gorog delivers the keynote address.
According to people familiar with the company's plans, Roxio will pre-install Napster 2.0 in all future releases of its CD/DVD burning software suite. The company, which also hawks software for photo and video editing, said its current installed base was in excess of 100 million users.
At launch, Napster 2.0 will offer about 500,000 tracks for sale via individual downloads, by monthly subscription, via Internet radio, or in any combination, Gorog is expected to announce Monday.
The plan to embrace a subscription model alongside a la carte sales is in direct contrast to Apple's rejection of fee-based subscription sales. Like Apple's iTunes, Buy.com's BuyMusic online store also uses the a la carte model exclusively.
Gorog isn't expected to release details of Napster's pricing but industry watchers expect tracks to cost between 79 cents and 99 cents. Full-length album downloads, which will also be available, are expected to cost between $7.99 and $9.99.
Napster 2.0 will use technology from Microsoft's Windows Media 9 Series to take care of Digital Rights Management (DRM) and will be exclusive to PC users. Roxio is planning a Mac version to be rolled out sometime in 2004.
One source said Roxio will also market Napster 2.0 heavily through the distribution agreement with Yahoo that came with the Pressplay acquisition. There are also plans in place for a major ad push to take advantage of the well-known Napster brand. The "kitty" logo, once the most hated image for the music industry, will be retained, a company source said.
Meanwhile, sources say RealNetworks and Listen.com are putting the finishing touches on a new music store to embrace the a la carte model and running on the company's Helix platform. The Real/Listen.com music store will be rolled out alongside the more well-known Rhapsody music service, which is subscription-based.
At a recent meeting with analysts, Microsoft boss Bill Gates also hinted at a music service running within the Windows Media Player software.
Adapted from internetnews.com.