Website of the Day: Friday May 21st
The arrival of Napster 2.0 as a legal online music service is exciting news for music fans as it hugely increases the choices available to you when you want to buy new music. Peter Gabriel’s OD2 service has responded to Napster’s launch with a promotion that effectively means half price music downloads until June, and with Apple’s iTunes service due to launch in the UK later this year, further promotions and price-drops are likely. That’s all good news for the consumer.
Napster’s main competition in Europe comes from sites like Tiscali, HMV, MSN and MyCoke Music and all of those other sites are powered by OD2 service.
Napster definitely wins on number of tracks available – There are already 500,000 tracks in their library and that will rise to 700,000 within the next month. OD2 currently has about 350,000 tracks online, but says that figure will rise over the next year.
If you can find the tracks or albums you want on the OD2 sites you’ll get them cheaper there, especially between now and the beginning of June – as their current promotion buys £40 worth of music for £20 which works out at just 50p per download. Napster charges 9.95 to download an album and between 88p and £1.09 a track according to how many tracks you buy at one time. Keen observers will be aware that due to the current weakness in the dollar, download prices in the US are considerably cheaper – on average 99 cents per track and $10 per album. We can only hope that UK prices become more competitive when iTunes enters the European market.
The other big difference between the rival services is that Napster also offer a subscription service. For £9.99 a month, you get access to the whole of Napster’s library enabling you to download whole tracks to up to three different PCs at once for no extra cost, so if you have your PC hooked up to your stereo you can listen to all that music at CD quality and you’ll never have to get a CD out of the case again. You only pay extra if you want to burn any of those tracks to CD or copy them to an mp3 player.
If you want to try Napster’s subscription service without parting with your cash, they’re currently offering a free 7 day trial of the service.
Both Napster and OD2 will let you listen to 30” of any track in their library. OD2 will let you listen in full once without downloading for about 1p a track
Napster runs as desktop software which includes a player, cd burning and ripping, music library software, message boards and an online magazine. It also lets you create playlists and email them to friends – if they are Napster subscribers they hear the full tracks… non subscribers will hear 30” excerpts.
By contrast to Napster’s software download, the OD2 service runs entirly as an online shop accessed through your web browser.
Both Napster and OD2 are PC only. Neither service will run on a Mac, so Apple users will need to wait for the arrival in the UK of the iTunes Music Store. As a consequence tracks downloaded from either service cannot be directly copied onto an iPod, but they are compatible with a large range of alternative portable music players, several of which outperform the iPod in terms of battery life, range of features and cost.
>> Napster UK
The following sites are all powered by OD2
Tiscali Music Club | My Coke Music | MSN Music | HMV | Virgin Downloads
Other UK Music Download sites
Wippit | People Sound
>> iTunes in the US
>> BBC News on the launch of Napster
>> Guardian Online on the launch of Napster
>> Web User magazine reviews iPod competitors