Friday, October 10, 2003

Music Wars Scene 23:
In which the founder of the rebellion returns from the dead
Look out iTunes, Napster is back. The creation of a college student, Shawn Fanning, who wrote the true killer app of the new millenium, started the Music Wars in 1999, by allowing any user on the internet to download MP3 music files, and let others download from their collection.
Napster (news - web sites), the file-swapping service that set music fans on their ears and sent the music industry into apoplectic fits, is resurrecting itself as a pay service two years after its free service collapsed under the weight of lawsuits.

Under its parent Roxio Inc. (NasdaqNM:ROXI - news), which bought the Napster assets out of bankruptcy in late 2002, Napster on Thursday introduced a test version of its new software that will sell individual songs for 99 cents each, albums for $9.95. or monthly "all-you-can-eat" subscriptions for $9.95.

Ironically, Napster sounded the opening salvo of the online music revolution in 1999 when it launched a free service that allowed users to download digital music from other users and in turn make their songs available to others.

The music industry has blamed such file-sharing services for its sharp decline in music sales over the last few years. Napster's relaunch is the latest example in a crowded field of online services aiming to convert an online community used to getting their music for free into paying customers.
The only problem with the pay services is that they don't have a big enough catalog, forget the obscure stuff, when you don't even have any Beatles tunes, your catalog sucks. Napster promises to deliver in this regard, we shall see. Of course the other big problem is that the free P2P Networks still exist and although usage has declined in the wake of the recent lawsuits, any pay for play service will be impacted by the free rebels. Myself sees the Music Wars as the beginning of the end for music on CD's. Much like the decline of vinyl, and casette tapes, the days of CD's are numbered. If Myself can get a device the size of a pack of cigarettes, or even smaller that can hold 30 plus songs of my choosing, never skips, can never get scratched, why would I want a much more bulky CD player that only holds 12 songs, some of which I may not even want, can't go jogging with, any can very easily get permanently ruined?

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