As a former paying subscriber of Roxio’s PressPlay (which has transitioned into Napster), I’ve been invited to beta test the new Napster 2.0. To my knowledge, there are no prohibitions on me talking about it at all to others, so here goes a few thoughts of mine 🙂
First of all, if you’ve used PressPlay, Napster 2.0 (henceforth Napster) will look and feel VERY familiar, albeit with much more polish and a tad more functionality.
Here are the basics:
– Right now, it’s for Windows users only 🙁
– Any Windows users can download the special Napster client software, or use Napster via Windows Media Player 9 (though with a bit less functionality)
– It costs nothing to download the software, and you can also get unlimited 30 second song previews for free, plus lots of really good artist info.
– Like with iTunes and Musicmatch, you can pay 99 cents for a ‘portable’ download, and from there, you can burn the track to a CD or send it to a secure-WMA-supporting portable device.
– If you opt to pay $9.95 per month and become a premium member, then you can stream most (not all) of the tracks available in their entirety at 96kbps WMA or download NON-portable versions in 128kbps secure WMA at no additional charge. These portable downloads can be played within nearly any Windows application that supports secure WMA (e.g., musicmatch, WMP, etc.), but they’ll become unplayable if you quit your $9.95 per month Napster Premium subscription.
– Unfortunately, there appear to be no (portable) download discounts for existing premium members, though if you sign up now for a free trial (which’ll begin on October 29), you’ll get five free download credits.
– You can integrate your existing MP3s and WMAs into the Napster application, but you have to do this again anytime you get new MP3s or WMAs that aren’t downloaded from Napster; it doesn’t auto-update :(.
– You can easily share playlists, songs, and albums with friends, but they must also have the Napster software (or the WMP plugin), and I’m guessing that if they’re not a Premium subscriber, they’ll only get 30 second song previews.
And some of my thoughts…
– The NapsterBits on the Napster site are pretty funky and funny. Check them out!
– The radio stations are both awesome and lame. Awesome in that you can zip forwards and backwards within songs, reorder songs, remove them from your playlist, find out more info about any playing artist, etc. But they’re lame in that they’re not nearly as numerous as many other services’ radio stations, and they repeat tracks within the same session! That’s inexcusable, IMHO.
If there’s interest, I’m willing to share many of the other notes I’ve taken about my Napster experience so far. In particular, feel free to leave comments here with any specific questions you have about the Napster 2.0 beta.