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Napster Offers Pre-Paid Card
October 28, 2003

LOS ANGELES: Online music swapping service Napster will offer prepaid cards at retail stores soon after it re-emerges as a commercial platform next week, allowing teenagers without credit cards to buy music on the Web, the company says.

The Napster Card will cost $14.85 (nine pounds), entitling the user to 15 downloads – in line with prices of newer rivals – and will be available at 14,000 locations mid-November at major retail chains like Best Buy, CompUSA, Safeway, Rite Aid and Duane Reade.

"We feel confident this is the right first move," Mike Bebel, president and chief operating officer of Napster, said. He said Napster may eventually experiment with other price points for the card.

Roxio Inc. acquired bankrupt Napster's assets after the free sharing service was forced to shut down amid a torrent of copyright lawsuits. Roxio will launch Napster version 2.0 on Wednesday. Users will pay 99 cent per song and $9.95 for an album or a monthly subscription.

The company is aiming the card at teenagers without credit cards and parents who want to give the gift of legal music downloads. The card features the familiar Napster "kitty" logo and is activated at the point of purchase.

The Napster relaunch, pairing what is essentially a brand-new service with perhaps the best-known name in digital music, will compete with a number of other for-pay digital music systems, most prominently Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store for Windows, which launched October 16.

Napster, blamed by the music industry for starting a digital download craze that cut sharply into CD sales, boasted 60 million users before the industry ran it out of business. It attempted to re-emerge as a paid service but was unable to do so and filed for bankruptcy in September 2002.


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