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“We’re saying ‘Come for the MP3s and stay for Napster."
—-Chris Gorog, Napster Chief Exec
CAN $5 RESCUE THE MUSIC SUBSCRIPTION MODEL?
Napster Lowers Its Monthly Streaming Rate to $5, Also Adds Five Free MP3s
Can $5 a month save the subscription music model?

That's the question N.Y. Times blogger Saul Hansell asks in today's paper as he examines Napster's new pricing policy.

Best Buy, which acquired the music service and its 700k subscribers last fall, is introducing  a new program that offers unlimited streaming of its seven million songs on demand, on your computer, and the right to download five songs in the unrestricted MP3 format, all for five bucks...the same as a Subway foot-long.

“We’re saying ‘Come for the MP3s and stay for Napster,’” said Napster chief exec Chris Gorog, the chief executive of Napster.

Until now, Napster charged $12.95 per month to listen to music on a computer. You could download tracks, but all used DRM so you couldn’t play them if you stopped paying your bills. And you couldn’t play them at all on an iPod.

The company also offers a $14.95 service that lets you download songs in a protected format that can be played on some cell phones and portable devices, but none of any note. Gorog said the company wanted to be able to offer consumers the right to use its service on any device for the same $5 a month, but the major labels have yet to acquiesce.  

The new Napster plan shows the music industry is at least open to alternatives. Five MP3 downloads alone will set you back anywhere from 69 cents to $1.29 apiece.

The plan could work nicely for Best Buy if they offer a prepaid card with 15 downloads and three months of Napster for $15, an easy add-on to the sale of an MP3 player or  iPod .

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