Music Roundup

The online (legal) music business picks up again this week with the relaunch of Napster. The new service doesn't have much in common with the "old" Napster except for the name. The new service runs inside the "Premium Content" tab of Windows Media Player. The store is fairly easy to navigate, although some additional on-line help might be needed - I got an email that said I could redeem my 5 free tracks but still had to put in my credit card number...I have no idea if I'll get charged or not.



Anyway, Napster is making itself available via both a pay-per-download model ($.99 a song) as well as a monthly fee for unlimited streaming. They have also announced that they will be making prepaid cards available to give as gifts and such for a certain number of downloads. Apple actually already does this with the iTunes music store. They are offering gift certificates as well as "allowances" which allow parents to setup purchasing limits for their kids. Not a bad idea.



After playing with iTunes (Mac and Windows), BuyMusic.com, MusicMatch, and Napster 2.0, I think I prefer iTunes. It is fast, easier to navigate than others, and just overall more simple to use. MusicMatch still takes forever to load, BuyMusic and Napster's search functions seem to be a bit simplistic, and BuyMusic still seems to have somewhat variable licensing terms.



Most of the services have pretty much the same basic library; I've found a few things in one service that aren't in another, which is a bit of a pain since to "shop around" I have to fire up whatever client goes along with the store I want to buy from. (BuyMusic gets points here in that I can browse and shop by just going to their website) Perhaps someone will come up with a shopper.com-style service for finding music on the Internet from a legal retailer.