Best Buy owns Napster, so now what?
Subscription remains a difficult play, especially alongside free streaming concepts like Imeem, Spotify, and MySpace Music. So what does an earlier-generation, paid subscription concept do? Well, Napster is now offering on-demand access to its catalog for $5 per month, a deal that also includes five DRM-free downloads.
Best Buy purchased Napster at a fairly good valuation, and gained access to a music-targeted database in the process. Easy wins involve in-store sales of pre-paid cards and consumer electronics tie-ins, though the more difficult challenge involves subscriber growth. Napster, alongside competitor Rhapsody, pioneered the first wave of paid subscription, but the concept remains a niche.
Whether this $5-a-month plan will help to solve that problem remains unclear, though Napster now has iPod compatibility. A close-to-zero price tag also helps, as does a direct marketing channel to Best Buy shoppers. But even a smashing success will have its downsides – after all, this plan is dangerously cheap, opening questions about whether stakeholders will truly benefit.