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5/18/2009
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Napster Slashing Pricing On Music Subscription Service

Parent company Best Buy is looking to keep pace with other retailers, such as Amazon and Wal-Mart.

Napster, which trails Apple, Amazon.com, and others in the online music business, on Monday slashed the price of its subscription service by nearly 62%, apparently hoping to jump-start sales.

Napster, which was acquired by electronics retailer Best Buy in September, is offering unlimited access to its music-streaming service for $5 a month, which includes five MP3 downloads a month. The company, which has a library of more than 7 million songs, had offered the service for $13 a month.

"For five bucks now you can have access to our entire music catalog and get five MP3s to add to your permanent collection," Chris Gorog, chief executive of Napster, said in a statement.

Napster's streaming-music service includes more than 60 commercial-free radio stations and 1,400 preprogrammed playlists.

Napster has always lagged behind the bigger players in the online music business. Because of the popularity of Apple's iPod music player, the company's iTunes store has grown over the years to become the largest music retailer in the United States, surpassing even Wal-Mart.

In buying Napster, Best Buy is looking to keep pace with other retailers, such as Amazon and Wal-Mart, which have their own online music download stores. By selling digital music, Best Buy may be able to offset the impact of declining CD sales, which have fallen sharply as music fans turn in increasing numbers to digital downloads and MP3 players.

Napster was launched in 1999 as a file-sharing service that was shut down in 2001 by record companies that sued the company for copyright violations. The company was resurrected in 2003 as a legitimate music subscription service by software vendor Roxio.


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