Napster opens e-commerce shop

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Subscription music service Nap­ster has opened up a new MP3 store at www.napster.com/store.

Download sales in the US will now be in the DRM-free MP3 format, which is compatible with any MP3 player or cell phone that plays music.

“We have been excluded from the iPod until now and this is really impor­tant to us, since so many consumers have iPods,” said Christopher Allen, chief operating officer at Napster. “By offering DRM-free MP3s, it allows us to reach a different segment of the popu­lation and a larger audience.”

Amazon and Apple's iTunes both offer DRM-free MP3s, a format that lets consumers transfer files across multiple devices. The music industry was slow to adopt this format because of piracy fears, but Apple CEO Steve Jobs was able to convince EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music and Warner Music, the top four major record labels, to adopt the format.

Napster will continue to host its music subscription service, an on-demand streaming service, but now customers can also purchase songs. The e-com­merce functionality is open to anyone, not just to members.

“We can get people in with a download offer and if they like using the site, then they might sign up for our subscription service,” Allen added.

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