Napster: The Music Service That Makes You Laugh at iTunes

I am bewildered that Napster hasn’t taken over itunes as the leader in the online music world. I have to conclude that people have misconceptions about the service or don’t realize the power that it holds. I will highlight just how great of service they really provide.

Napster is a little more expensive than their cheapest competitor, Music Match, but the songs available have never or rarely let me down. Music Match has repeatedly. The biggest let down of Music Match is that they don’t offer every song in the albums. This is almost unheard of in Napster, but a regular occurence in Music Match.

Napster costs $9.99 a month, $14.95 for Napster to Go.
Music Match costs $4.99 a month if you buy a whole year’s worth.

Napster claims 2,000,000 songs
Music Match claims 900,000 songs

That’s the statistics of the two sites. Anyone can look those up and aren’t worth much to people looking for the best music service. Napster has many features that make it the king of the industry.

Napster has the $9.99 version and the $14.95 version. The $9.99 allows you to listen to any song on three computers, yes three. The $14.95 allows you to have unlimited songs on your mp3 player, so you can have any song you want, anywhere you want. You are only limited to your mp3 player disk size and they expire in a month, so you have to plug it into your computer so it can check to see if you’re still a subscriber. You must have a compatible mp3 player though, a.k.a. not ipod. There is no reason to buy an ipod.

Napster has every or almost every cd in their catalog for people to listen to. They release new cds every Tuesday, in full length, for free. You don’t get clips of the songs, you don’t have to buy each song. You just have to be a subscriber. They also add a huge amount of old cds and songs every day. You can check an option to have the daily update and every time I check it’s about forty new artists.

Napster allows you to download any of the songs to be used outside of the Napster music program, which is big and bulky. I personally download the songs I want and play them in Winamp. It makes the categorizing easier. You can also use Windows Media Player. Sonique doesn’t work however. Any other music subscription service I have come across doesn’t allow you to download the songs, for free, to use in a program you are more familiar with. Napster also has playlist editors if you don’t want to bother and just run songs in the program.

Bonus Feature: Since you can download the songs to your computer you can connect them to your Xbox 360. I have literally went to my computer, downloaded a song in a couple seconds, and then went back to my Xbox and played the song. This is unheard of with any other service, unless you pay for each song.

Napster has a limited free version. You can sign up at the site, without having to pay anything and listen to songs 3 times, for free. You can also put the songs on your myspace profile.

Napster is offering a free mp3 player for people that sign up for Napster to Go for a year, which holds 256 MB. If you think that’s paltry compared to the ipod storage, you’re right, but 256 mb is about 185 minutes which is over 3 hours. Unless you’re super lazy, a massive traveler or a truck driver, you shouldn’t need more than that. 3 hours of music is a lot and it’s not like you get tired of the songs after listening to them once. In case you need more, you can pay $50 more and get the 1 GB version. Awesome. Mp3 players are a lot, so it’s almost like you’re getting free music for a year if you were just going to buy an mp3 player anyway.

Napster also has the billboard charts for the past 50 years and built in radio stations. Most people can’t remember a lot of old songs, so it’s handy to see what was popular last year or before. The charts are organized by season. They also offer biographies of bands, the album cover art, songs by popularity (extremely useful) and some videos, but the videos are extremely limited as of now.

Compare this to itunes. You have to buy an ipod, which doesn’t work with any other music service, I believe. It holds mp3 format, but most services are Windows Media Files. Guess who owns ipod, yes Apple, a competitor of Microsoft. You have to pay for each song. You don’t get anything free if you buy an ipod, which cost $300+. You can’t download the songs as much as you want, so you can lose songs forever, rip.

I know some of you are wondering if it’s worth it to pay every month to basically keep nothing. You only get to have the music as long as you subscribe. Well for one, music gets old fast, so it’s better not to buy, but if you want you can still buy the songs. Is it better to buy and keep some songs or borrow every song? The latter is 10 times better in my case. The only area that itunes wins Napster is that they have more songs, but other than that it’s a waste of money to buy an ipod.

If you want to just buy songs then I recommend Real Rhapsody. I believe that each song is only 79 cents instead of 99. Everything else they have is comparable to Music Match, including the selection of full length songs.

As a side note, in case you aren’t aware, Napster is perfectly legal now. It was illegal in the past because they offered songs for free and artists, the recording industry, and labels didn’t get paid. Now they do and Napster has to ask every single artist if they can have their songs in their service.

Have a musical day.

Steve

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