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"These new offerings make Napster easily available both online and at retail, where the Roxio brand is extremely strong, and they’re a great way to make online music available to a broader audience."
——Chris Gorog, Roxio

NAPSTER PUTS IT ON THE PLASTIC

Pre-Paid Cards at Retail, "Burnpak" Package, Trial Offer Fuel Netco’s Holiday Assault
The Kitty’s making like Santa Claus.

Revamped (and oh so very legal) online music service Napster is rolling out a suite of promotions designed to make the digital song into the perfect stocking-stuffer.

Among the offerings under the tree: free trial subscriptions, a CD-burning software bundle and prepaid "Music Cards" at nearly 20,000 retail outlets.

Consumers who head over to Napster.com during December will have access to a free three-day trial of the company’s premium subscription service (normally $9.95 per month), with unlimited streaming of its song catalog (about half a million tracks strong), 40 commercial-free music stations, music-discovery tools, community features and more.

Once the trial period ends, help yourself to five free tracks that can be burned to CD or zipped into the nifty new portable music player Napster has co-branded with Samsung.

Said player, by the way, has 20GB of storage (about 5,000 tracks), the capacity to play both Napster’s WMA files and MP3s and an FM radio—and is priced to compete with other memory-intensive portables.

Suppose you’ve given one of these quaint devices to a deserving youngster. You don’t want this impressionable youth to fill it with ill-gotten files from Kazaa or LimeWire, do ya?

We thought not. Napster has an alternative: the prepaid Napster Music Card, which, for only $14.85, entitles the bearer to 15 downloads. The cards will now be available at Radio Shack, in addition to Best Buy, RiteAid, CompUSA, Kroger, Safeway, ExxonMobil and other retail locations.

Finally, with the help of parent company Roxio, Napster is rolling out the Burnpak, a software suite bundling Roxio’s popular CD-burning software Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 Starter Kit with the Napster service. Users can then use the software not only to download tracks and then burn them to discs and create labels, but also to add music to photos and home videos. Shelling out $29.99 for the Burnpak gets you not only the software goodies but also—you guessed it—five free tracks.

"Digital music will undoubtedly be at the top of many consumers’ wish lists this holiday season," chortled Roxio CEO Chris Gorog. "These new offerings make Napster easily available both online and at retail, where the Roxio brand is extremely strong, and they’re a great way to make online music available to a broader audience."

Can Napster connect the dots between the Net, the desktop and retail? It’s hard to say. But one thing’s for sure: music is becoming a software business. Leaving downloads to the P2P world only guarantees another lump of coal in our collective stocking.

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