Napster Debuts Online, Advertiser-Supported Service

Napster has just cracked the gate open on its subscription service, offering music fans access to tracks within an advertiser-supported site.

As part of the play, is allowing fans to stream any song five times, free of charge. For those that want greater access, is up-selling its paid download and subscription service. A-la-carte downloads will continue to carry a 99-cent price point, and the monthly subscription rate will remain at $9.95. Subscription portability on an MP3 device is also available for a monthly charge of $14.95. Napster most recently posted a subscriber total of 600,000.

The move represents a variation, rather than an overhaul, in the existing Napster business model. Offering freebies could entice more signups, especially from consumers that require a bigger taste prior to making a commitment. Meanwhile, will immediately tap into online advertising revenues, and early takers include Disney, Guitar Center, House of Blues, Touchstone Pictures, and Samsung. Napster will also unveil a community-based music section called “Narchive,” though details remain thin on this aspect. Other partners and details may be announced by Napster chief Chris Gorog, who is delivering a keynote this morning at MusEXPO, an A&R-focused conference taking place in Los Angeles.