Napster, the online music store, has made a couple of key announcements regarding its future business plans. The UK arm of the store has just launched a pre-paid music card scheme, aimed at under 18s and other music buyers who don’t have credit cards.
The scheme is a first for the UK, and will be sold through the Dixons Group of stores. The cards will initially be available in two values – UK£14.95 (€21.65) and UK£56.95 (€83), which works out at UK£0.99 (€1.44) and UK£0.95 (€1.38) per track respectively.
Aside from being good for business, Napster sees a key advantage in making it easier for teenagers to buy music: they’ll be less likely to download it illegally. More music, more stores and more ways to pay mean that people will be less attracted to P2P networks when trying to acquire music that they enjoy.
Napster vice-president and UK general manager Leanne Sharman said in a statement: “The launch of pre-paid cards in the UK is a major development in the evolution of the online music market. Our partnership with Dixons Group broke the mould and gave online music a high street presence for the first time; now the introduction of pre-paid cards takes this one step further and increases accessibility to Napster.”
Napster have also announced a new Media Room Edition of their client software, featured in Windows XP Media Centre 2005. The new version of their software has been designed for easy viewing on a television, allowing users to access their music collection from their sofa, or even buy music that way. Dangerous, given some of the urges to buy music that I get and can’t be bothered getting off the sofa and onto my PC to action them.
Additionally, Napster MRE features an expanded music video collection and enhanced artist photos and album art. The forthcoming Napster to Go portable subscription service will also be included when it débuts this year.
“The Napster Media Room Edition is for the growing number of music fans that want to take digital music beyond the PC and integrate it into their home entertainment experience,” said Chris Gorog, Napster’s chairman and CEO. “Napster’s expansion from a PC-based experience into the living room and into the home began over a year ago as a feature of Microsoft’s ground-breaking Media Centre PC so we are pleased to continue our legacy of innovation with the most comprehensive and easy to use music experience available.”