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Napster Let Loose

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Napster is free again, for five songs only. Actually, it’s 2 million songs, five times each. That’s 10 million songs right? No, it’s not. And it’s only kind of free. Confused yet?

The notorious Napster music download service has opened up its library to music fans, allowing any song to be listened to up to five times each. After that, you’ll have to subscribe or purchase the download. The free service is only available in the U.S.

As always, free listening comes with a price. Every third song comes with a rich media advertisement. Napster has struck deals to share advertising revenue with record labels. Advertisers can sponsor playlists, concerts, or target specific music genres.

In addition to that, Napster rolled out the “Narchive,” an almost MySpace-style/ wikipedia social media realm for music fans to share and comment on music.

From the FAQ:

As we began gathering information for the Narchive, we realized the greatest source of knowledge about music wasn’t just industry insiders. It’s the music fans. We recognized if we combined both sources the amount of information we could present would be both comprehensive and staggering.

Narchive is a place where fans can explore and find out more about music. Our archives contain articles and lists ranging from basic artist biographies, discographies, NapsterLinks to songs and photos to the most detailed accounts of tour dates, guest appearances and the equipment being used. We even have a page dedicated to rumors so you can be the first to find out the latest information about your favorite artist.

Jupiter Research’s David Card thinks free music and the social media angle will be good for boosting membership.

“I think I’d interpret this as a well-executed, aggressive free trial strategy rather than Napster business model version 3,” said Card. But I could be wrong. Online users who try out a paid content service in a free trial are six times more likely to convert to paying customers than those who don’t.”

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