I recently discussed the whereabouts of Napster‘s founder, Shawn Fanning. I mentionned that Napster had been liquidated back in the day, but its name has always remained a very important one in the MP3 business. I should really say that it has always been a big name in the “online music” industry, but it has always been most widely known as an MP3 source. The name was sold and a couple of attempts at getting the site back online were made but until now digital laws and the RIAA have been preventing a successful implementation.
Napster announced this week that it is launching the largest online MP3 store with 6 million songs available. They are basically going after the current leader, iTunes. The great thing about Napster is that their songs are DRM-free(Digital Rights Management), which means that users can play the downloaded songs on any device they wish, including their PC and portable MP3 players. You still have to be a paying Napster member to be able to continue playing the songs, but they are at least portable to wherever you want to listen to them. With iTunes, consumers can only play the downloaded songs on iPods or iPhones.
The available 6 million tracks will sell for $0.99 and full albums for $9.95, with high resolution album art and songs at 256kbps.
Amazon also has an MP3 service which works essentially the same way, but they only list 5.2 millions tracks.