Napster – Free and Legal Music?

Timeline of file sharing

Timeline of file sharing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Update: I no longer use Napster. I believe they have been acquired. I’m now using Spotify.]

Napster became a household name for its early days when it offered massive peer-to-peer (P2P) music sharing – the large majority of which was illegal. After attracting significant legal attention (and conflict) it was recreated as a legal music venue – but by this time many other competitors had come out of the woodwork and Napster’s free business model had suddenly become pay. Since then Napster has held on at the periphery of existence. By Alexa’s ranking Napster is now in the top 5,600 sites, by comparison Apple’s iTunes ranks #61. Just a tad of a difference.

That said, Napster still has a lot to offer. First off, they offer full-length audio streaming of just about their entire music library. Just go to free.napster.com. Sure is, you can only listen to a song three times for free – then you either have to buy it or stop listening. But hey, how many songs do you really want to hear more than three times? And if it is worth listening to more than three times, isn’t it worth $.99?

Napster recently came out with a really impressive deal that I’d jump on if I was an audiophile…but I’m not. Its a $5/mo. package which gets you full streaming access to Napster’s massive (7 million+ songs) library and five permanent MP3 downloads. Snikes. Apple’s iTunes will charge you the $5 for the five songs, forget about being able to stream unlimited songs all month long!

So, what am I saying? Take a look at Napster. They are trying so hard – and in my opinion, while the hype is no longer on their side they are doing a great and innovative job of offering music to the masses at reasonable prices.

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