Napster is now selling MP3s, as the company hopes to better compete with music-selling rivals Amazon and iTunes and improve declining sales in the past years. The MP3 is an unrestricted file, which means it can play on any digi
tal music device. By changing to the MP3 format, Napster hopes its vast catalogue of music will lure iPod users, among others.
The music industry has long been opposed to licensing music in MP3 format, but because of declining sales over the last decade many labels have begun licensing songs in such a format.
Napster’s MP3s will still be offered for download under the copyright restrictions, which it has with all of the major record labels. The songs are priced at 99 cents each, with entire albums starting at $9.95.
Amazon is the only other online music store to offer music from all the major record labels, and iTunes only recently began selling MP3s from the EMI Group PLC labels.
iTunes’ MP3s, though, are more expensive because of their higher quality.
Because of the dominance of iTunes in digital music, Napster plans on marketing its new MP3s by emphasizing the size of its music catalogue.
iTunes only has a partnership with one record label, and Napster hopes to lure people who cannot find the songs they want in Apple’s music store.
Though Amazon has similar partnerships with the same labels as Napster, it contains about a million fewer songs—5 million compared to Napster’s 6 million.
With the conversion to MP3s, Napster hopes to also sign more subscribers to its monthly service, which enables users to download an unlimited quantity of music for $14.95.
With its declining sales, the company hopes its conversion to MP3s will help, but it seems unlikely considering iTunes’ dominance in the market and the vast, free file-sharing that is slowly crippling the music industry.
By Danny Scuderi
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