Napster Offers DRM-Free Downloads

Napster Offers DRM-Free Downloads
As of yesterday (May 20), Napster has begun to offer their entire catalogue for purchase without Digital Rights Management. For 99 cents you can now get a song in 256kpbs MP3 format, without any restrictions. Another nail in the DRM coffin, Napster now has by far the largest DRM-free catalogue online, with over six million songs, and the support of all four major labels. Note, however, that the DRM-free songs are for purchase only, and songs downloaded through Naptser’s subscription service – the company’s bread and butter – will remain protected.

They remain committed to their subscription model: users pay $10 to $15 per month to download and listen to an unlimited number of songs from the entire catalogue; if and when you stop subscribing, the songs become unplayable.

In an interview about the DRM-free MP3s, Napster COO Christopher Allen said: "We’re really focused on subscription and driving subscribers as our business model. [Customers] may be initially attracted to the MP3s. . . and I think it will result in more subscribers over time.”

The company makes almost nothing on single song sales, so while their decision to remove DRM from their MP3 downloads is commendable, it’s hardly a commitment to DRM-free music: until a major site offers a subscription based model with unlimited DRM-free downloading, rights management is here to stay. In the meantime, though, Napster’s entire catalogue at 99 cents is probably the best deal going.