Napster to launch pre-paid music cards

The Napster Card will offer 15 downloads for $14.85, allowing music fans – for the first time – to easily give the gift of digital music through a gift card and bypass the need for credit cards topermanently download music.

“The pre-paid card initiative is critical because it eliminates a significant barrier to the legitimate digital music market: How to involve teens and millions of other Americans who don’t have credit cards,” said Napster President Mike Bebel. “With the Napster Card, you can give the gift of music without worrying about picking the right band or the right album. It’s just the kind of gift we’re all looking for this time of year. This will instantly get the Napster brand into thousands of top retailers across the country in time for the holiday season.”

As Napster 2.0 goes live to America on Wednesday, the Napster Card program will greatly extend the accessibility and visibility of Napster 2.0. The Napster Card will be available for purchase at national and regional retailers including: Best Buy, CompUSA, Kroger, Safeway, RiteAid, ExxonMobil, Duane Reade, Diamond Shamrock and Speedway/SuperAmerica. More retailers will be joining the program shortly.

Featuring the familiar Napster kittyhead logo, the plastic card closely resembles a credit card. A scratch-off surface conceals a PIN that recipients use to activate 15 credits for permanent downloads from the Napster service. As always, music lovers are welcome to enjoy many other Napster features free-of-charge, including: 30-second music clips, on-demand music videos, decades of interactive Billboard charts, community features, and the online music magazine Fuzz.

With this program Napster is capitalizing on the burgeoning pre-paid card market recently embraced by other leading retail brands including McDonald’s and Starbucks. Retail distribution innovator InComm, a leader in prepaid and stored value products, is partnering with Napster on what will be the first mass-distributed music download card ever created. The U.S. stored-value card market is expected to be worth $290 billion by 2006, according to Financial Insights.

Napster 2.0 will significantly raise the bar for online music. It enables fans to freely sample the world’s largest and most diverse online collection of music, featuring over half a million tracks. The revolutionary easy-to-use interface allows users to quickly and easily download tracks, transfer songs to portable devices or burn them to CDs for just 99 cents per track or $9.95 per album. In addition to the free online magazine, Billboard charts, music videos, song clips and the ability to email tracks to friends and browse other members’ collections, serious music fans have the added option to upgrade to a premium service that offers unlimited listening and downloading, over 40 commercial-free radio stations and a collection of interactive play lists and community features, all for just $9.95 a month.

The Napster Card is the third Napster product on retail shelves nationwide. Last month, Microsoft announced that Napster would be the featured music service on Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004, enabling music fans to experience Napster 2.0 from the comfort of their couch using a TV and a remote control. Earlier this month, Napster unveiled the Samsung Napster player, which is available for purchase in leading electronics stores nationwide. The first in a family of portable music devices to come from Napster’s partnership with consumer electronics leader Samsung, the player allows consumers to take their digital music library with them. Napster 2.0 also supports almost all of the top selling digital audio devices sold in the marketplace today.

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