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Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Will $5 a month work for music subscriptions when $13 a month failed?

Best Buy, which bought the Napster service last fall, is introducing a new version with a great deal more value than its predecessor.

Now for $5 a month, you receive the right to download any five songs in MP3 format. In addition, you can listen to any of seven million songs anytime, on demand, on your computer.

“We’re saying ‘Come for the MP3s and stay for Napster,’” said Chris Gorog, the chief executive of Napster.

Until now, Napster charged $12.95 per month to listen to music on a computer. You could download tracks, but all used digital rights management so you couldn’t play them if you stopped paying your bills. And you couldn’t play them at all on an iPod. The MP3 files in the new service have no such restrictions.

The company also offers a $14.95 service that lets you download songs in a protected format that can be played on some cellphones and portable devices (but not any that most people want to own). So far, the pricing of that service has not changed, but Mr. Gorog said the company wanted to be able to offer consumers the right to use its service on any device for the same $5 a month. The music labels have yet to agree, however.