Last week Napster announced a record increase in their subscriber base for the fourth quarter of last year. I was part of that increase. For three months, I paid $15 monthly for the company’s all-you-can-download Napster To Go service.
At the end of March, I canceled Napster To Go. Although I still believe the business model is sound, the implementation is too flawed to tolerate. Tracks I had downloaded to a portable player wouldn’t play, even though they were properly licensed. At one point the software stopped acknowledging my right to download music at all, and it took an hour on the phone with Napster support to get things sorted out. Mike Torres had the same problem several months ago, and came to the same conclusion.
The problem, of course, is digital rights management. As long as Microsoft and Apple and other big-media companies insist on treating their customers like criminals, this will be the result. I absolutely refuse to pay 99 cents for a music track that doesn’t give me full digital rights over the content, and even the limited form of DRM in Napster To Go doesn’t work.
Next stop: eMusic.