As I have mentioned in the past I have a rather small personal music collection so I enjoy streaming music and subscription services that let me listen to a ton of music from several genres. I have been a subscriber to the Zune Marketplace (check out my thoughts on the service) since they started giving you 10 free songs a month, but do have some issues with the service since it is still not easy to find MP3 only files and if you forget to download the 10 free songs you lose them. Today Napster launched their new mobile site, m.napster.com, that gives you the ability to discover and download your music over the air. They are working on streaming clients, but at this time streaming is not supported.
The current version of Napster allows you to stream unlimited music to your PC with 5 free non-DRM MP3 files available for you to purchase with credits each month. Plans range from $5/month for 3 and 12 month passes to $7/month for a monthly pass. It works out with the longer plans that you pay $1/song and get them as DRM-free music to listen to on any device, along with the ability to stream unlimited music to your PC or Mac. With the new m.napster.com mobile service you can download your purchases right to your mobile phone. In addition, Napster is thinking ahead and lets you receive a backup MP3 file copy for your PC so you can burn and save it to disk for archiving.
With the addition of mobile streaming clients I think it will be a killer service and one that I will switch to immediately. I tried to stream songs using the new Internet Explorer Mobile, Opera Mobile 9.5, and Skyfire 1.1 on my T-Mobile Touch Pro2, but it doesn't seem to work so I will have to wait for a mobile client. Skyfire seemed to get close as I was able to get right up to the player page, but the music would not stream. I tried just listening to the song preview using the m.napster.com site and Windows Mobile failed with all three of these browsers.
Best Buy is offering $15 worth of Napster music with the purchase of a contracted mobile phone in September.
Napster also issued the following statement regarding iPhone functionality:
One of the most common questions Napster receives is, "When will you offer an iPhone app?" Well, Napster has created an iPhone application that allows subscribers to stream music on-demand to their iPhone;including personal playlists, albums and radio stations. You can imagine the company is also looking at streaming applications for several other mobile platforms as well (Blackberry, Android). However, due to the high licensing fees for streaming to a mobile phone, Napster has not yet submitted the iPhone app to Apple for approval or attempted to bring the application to market.
iPhone users can use m.napster.com and song credits to purchase songs, but the songs purchased are sent to the PC only as Apple does not allow 3rd parties to download songs over the air to the iPhone.
A subscription service where you get free songs for the full subscription price seem like the way to go for me. I'll have to check to see if any other service functions like this too and if you are aware of any please feel free to let me know.