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Review of Pay Napster 382

An Anonymous Coward writes: "A beta tester for the recently released subscription version of Napster has anonymously posted his impressions of the new service. He finds it remarkably similar to the old one, both good '... browsing through a real person's music collection, sending them messages and recommending them new music' and bad '... broken tracks, cancelled transfers and a complete inability to stream or preview tracks.' The service allows 50 tracks a month, but there was little decent content to fill those slots. Messages to other beta testers found mixed reactions among fellow users. Still, the writer holds out some optimism for Napster's chances."
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Review of Pay Napster

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  • Up to 50 tracks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Morth ( 322218 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:01PM (#2845115)
    So what are the chances people won't contact eachother and then transfer the music outside napster, through ICQ for example?
    • by andfarm ( 534655 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:04PM (#2845139)

      Most of the tracks on (the new) Napster are in a proprietary format, which means that (if you copied them somewhere else) they wouldn't work. At all. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it set off some sort of alarm. Or made your computer explode.


    • Re:Up to 50 tracks (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cpeterso ( 19082 )
      I bet the .nap files are keyed using some unique id to only work with that user's computer.
    • Personaly, I think the RIAA should supply the music, in full CDA format, not this lossy mp3 compression. Hell, we are doing all the work for them. Using our network resources, our systems, ripping and compressioning - and sometimes the quality isn't even good for mp3. The only way I will pay money is if it's coming off their NAPSTER servers with NO loss of quality. Why should we grind our fingers and have them reap the benefits.
      o|oo U RIAA
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:01PM (#2845118)
    I'm going to want CD-quality rips. I don't want to waste 25 of my 50 downloads a month on bad rips.
  • What's the point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thryllkill ( 52874 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:02PM (#2845121) Homepage Journal
    There are tons of free p2p services out there, admittedly none as good as Napster was in it's day, but free none the less. Maybe you don't get support, but again free. On top of that no limits to how much you download. Most of them offer IM to discuss choices and new music. I am sorry to say it, I was a Huge fan of Napster, but too little way too late.
    • Re:What's the point (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wurp ( 51446 )
      None as good as Napster in its day?!? Have you tried any of the FastTrack clients (Morpheus, Kazaa, Gift)? That you can download any file (not just music) and that there are ~.5 million users when I have used it would have made it a Napster killer, IMO. However, those benefits pale in comparison to the automatic resumption of downloads and (!!) the fact that it swarmcasts when it can find multiple sources. For a broadband user, that makes all the difference in the world. Just find ten or twenty dial-ups to feed you the file.

      Napster sucks. It was a great (but simple) idea that was never implemented well until the clones.
    • by damiam ( 409504 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:30PM (#2845375)
      Ummmmm.. maybe because it's actually legal to download and keep copyrighted music from Napster?
  • 50 tracks a month? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by diwolf ( 537997 )
    With essentially indistructable services like Gnutella and Kazaa (etc) out there and working just fine (thank-you-very-much), why would anyone in their right mind pay Napster a monthly fee? Those who are going to pirate music are *STILL* going to pirate music. They'll just ditch the Napster client in favour of Napster and Napigator or Kazaa or Gnutella. So, it's 5 seconds longer to find that song you really want? Big deal.

    Besides, I've often downloaded a great song and said, "hey, I want more!" And bought the CD.. If I can't find good/new music, buying CD's is something that really wouldn't enter my mind.
    • Once nice thing about Napster (and KaZaA) is the ability to look at what else a person is sharing, which is handy for either finding a fast person to transfer from, or somebody that's interested in similar music.

      Gnutella clients do suck. I haven't been impressed with any yet, especially BearShare and it's infamous spyware.

      Generally the system itself isn't that great. While I can find 10,000 results on something, it takes for 10 minutes to find a client that I can actually connect to and will transfer the file at a reasonable rate.

      So if I can get fast and reliable transfers, and the ability to find NEW music that I was previously unaware of, then it would be worth a few bucks a month. Of course, they would need a reliable system for detecting broken transfers.
  • Seriously, does anybody expect this pay-for-mp3's thing to take off?

    Napster now is like a little animal that got hit by a car but refuses to die. There's blood everywhere, and it just keeps flopping around prolonging the inevitable. They're only bringing shame to themselves at this point. It's pathetic.

    Could they just hurry up and die already?
    • Seriously, does anybody expect this pay-for-mp3's thing to take off?

      Nope. I've said it before and I'll say it again. None of the services are going to do gang busters. They may trudge along and not lose horrid amounts of money, but they're not going to be reaping in the profits like they think they will.

      Why? Its cheaper to buy CDs that aren't copy controled. Sure, the big 5 are trying to make CDs uncopyable, but as Lessig (I believe) said that's a mere speed bump in the road. It'll slow ya down, but it won't stop you. So pay $16 (or $10 as some are now predicting) for a CD and do what the hell you want / take it where the hell you want or $10 a month to rent 50 songs that have lower fidelity, can only be played on your computer, etc. Hmmm.. which choice am I going to make....

      Of course, it won't be spun that way. Broadband/Hackers/Communists/Thieves/College Kids will be blamed by PressPlay/Napster/MusicNet/et al instead of their lack of a compelling product.
    • by furiousgeorge ( 30912 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @07:02PM (#2845561)
      >>Seriously, does anybody expect this
      >>pay-for-mp3's thing to take off?

      You know - I'd be willing to pay.

      Seriously, for $1 or $2 per song I'd probably spend a fortune. I totally believe that the artists (and the record companies --- they do pay for the promotion and all the associated crap even though they are pure evil) deserve to be paid.


      Nobody who is putting together one of these systems is interested in that. They want to put a bazillion restrictions on me. It's in a proprietary,locked format. You can't dump it to your portable MP3 player. You can't burn it onto a CD to play it into a car. If you cancel your subscription you LOSE ALL THE MUSIC YOU'VE PAID FOR (No - i'm not making this one up. I believe it's PressPlay that does that. You only have access to the tracks you've paid for as long as you keep kicking up monthly cash).

      So instead of getting some of my money - they don't get any. They just don't get it - and I don't know if they ever will. If you're going to try to rob me of the basic freedoms I have with CD based audio, there is ZERO chance you're going to get me on board.

      Sorry folks - they days of paying $15-20 for a CD (and at LEAST $6-8 more compared to the exact same album on tape) are over. You've milked that cow long enough.

      If i could pay for the mp3 tracks i wanted i bet i'd end up spending at least $30 a month. (I listen to a lot of club music that i couldn't buy in a store because it's just not there). Instead - I spend nothing and slurp it all off the net. I honestly can't remember the last CD I purchased (not including blanks of course )

      The sooner the labels realize this the better. But they won't.
      They'll keep kicking and screaming, sponsoring new legislation trying to put the genie back in the bottle.

      Too late. Sorry. So sad.
      • Everyone who says this, in one form or another---"if I could buy tunes at a reasonable price, I would!"---put your money where your mouth is. exists, and other, similar, services probably do as well.

        So, I suppose we'll find out now if all that Slashdotter hot air had any substance. I have a feeling that many of the people who espoused the above sentiment, when given the chance to actually pay for the music, won't give up their gNapster, Morpheus or what-have-you.

        -grendel drago
        [*toot* celebrating my 350th post, whee!]
        • Re:Show me. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by furiousgeorge ( 30912 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @08:15PM (#2845914)
          I just went and looked at

          Didn't see a single thing I wanted.

          Thats my whole point. The only stuff that is being released digitally is:

          a) alternative, fringe, old, or otherwise stuff that I don't want.
          b) the latest and greatest, with the largest collections, but saddled with so many conditions and restrictions I'd be throwing away money.

          Sure - is *something*, but it sure ain't what I want. This afternoon I downloaded 30 tracks off AudioGalaxy. I just searched for them on eMusic. Nope - not a single one.

          >>put your money where your mouth is.

          Show me somewhere i can spend my money that offers the service and selection i'm expecting. eMusic sure ain't it. I know eMusic isn't the only game in town, but it's very representative.

          This has nothing to do with 'hot air'. If i'm looking to pay for a particular song, i want that song. I don't want some other generic or substitute from the same 'genre'. This isn't like going to the supermarket and substituting one brand of milk for another.
        • I've been using eMusic since last summer. I love jazz and they have a lot of stuff that I have on vinyl and never got around to getting it on CD. Now I just skipped CDs and I've gone straight to MP3s.

          If you like jazz, you should checkout eMusic's collection. They have some great stuff - like complete recording sets of Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans and so on.

          eMusic also has lots of comedy albums. For example, most of George Carlin's stuff is there. I was able to play for my son (who's 14) the "Class Clown" albums I listened to, when I was 15. In fact the latest George Carlin HBO special already appeared on eMusic.

  • The options
    1. pay about $10/month for the chance to get 50 tracks, of which 25 actually came through.

    2. pay nothing and get a 90% or better rate on downloading tracks.

    I think I will take door number 2 please.
  • by VWswing ( 74185 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:05PM (#2845153) Homepage
    I worked at Napster for a year.

    The only thing I can say is they are getting
    what they deserve. Any company that treats people
    like napster treated their employees, deserves
    to die a slow painful death, what they are doing.

    I was the 6th systems administrator in less than 2 years to quit, and apparently 4 have quit since I left. The only ironic part is after I left, they fired the main sources of problems.. their incompetent executive staff.. Their IT manager was fired thank goodness, he was a nepotism hire by their vp of engineering Eddie Kessler, who was also fired.

    Let them rot, and let the music be free.
    • by diwolf ( 537997 ) <> on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:09PM (#2845194)
      I still can't ever figure out.. How did Napster MAKE MONEY? Or did they operate like the "Change Bank" from SNL (Saturday Night Live)..

      Customer: I was in a rush. I needed to change a $50. I wanted a twenty and two tens...

      Bank Rep: Well, our computers caught the mistake RIGHT AWAY! We made sure he got the right change.

      Customer: They helped me out when I needed change for the payphone. Thanks Change Bank!

      Bank Rep: We are asked how we make money. Volume. We simply do it on volume.
  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:07PM (#2845176) Journal
    If you're going to go to the trouble of paying for your music, you should at least get:

    • Something tangible that won't disappear if your hard drive crashes
    • High-quality sound (don't get me wrong... MP3s sound great, but they're not CD quality)
    • And, what the heck, it may as well be shiny, aerodynamic and mountable on your cubicle wall as functional artwork

    If only there was something like that available...

    • Of course, with our luck, someone would come up with this product, but:

      - The RIAA members would collude to keep prices unreasonably high (2000% markup from manufacturing costs, etc, etc), prices almost unchanged after 20 years, RIAA members sitting on product they own but don't want to release rendering it unavailable

      - You would have to spend large amounts of time searching through bins in stores or on-line services to find one of these things. If you're tastes are eclectic like mine, that could be a hassle.

      - If you are lucky enough to find one in a store, great, otherwise they would special order it and you'd get it in 4-6 weeks (*cough*Borders*cough)

      - If you have to resort to online services, you'll have to pay for shipping, and still wait until the thing to arrive via USPS/UPS/etc.

      - And last they'd probably do something stupid like package these things in flimsy and brittle plastic containers that would break when you so much as look at them wrong. Naah, now I'm just being perverse.

      Maybe I'm just a cynic, but I don't know if your solution is the best one we can imagine. However, I'm sure the RIAA is trying to find ways to use technology to enhance their customers' buying experience and maximize their legally guaranteed "fair-use" rights.
    • I think everyone here missed the fact that he was talking about CDs. It was sarcasm. Sorry to be so "smart guy" like, but until they create a puncuation for sarcasm, we just need to keep on our toes.

      I suggest the plus sign, because it could signify sarcasm while being sarcastic itself.

      Go ahead mod me down for being off topic, just when I was was feeling good about my 2 point karma.

    • While appreciating the humor, actually I convert all my CDs into digital form and store them on my computer because:

      • Its something reliable that gets backed up with my hard drive, not fragile like an easily scratched/broken/chipped CD.
      • I can control the quality of the sound, and trade off quality and storage space to my needs.
      • And, what the heck, its not physical so I can easily find the music I want and I don't have hundreds of annoying metallic discs cluttering up my living space.
    • I'll tell you who wants to pay for Napster... record companies! What if Napster was like it will be, proprietary format, unplayable in cars or disc players, but it was free?. I know, crazy, right? Look at it this way... with a music format this crippled, piracy using Napster is pretty much eliminated. I mean, who wants to download an illegal file that barely even works? If you like the song enough, you can go to the store and get the disc. Otherwise, you can't share, copy, or even play the thing without a lot of hassle.

      Like radio (which is also a hassle to use as a piracy tool), record companies can vie for "airplay", but with a legal payola scheme. The Industry can use the New Napster to plug their albums, maybe only releasing selected singles, and pay for the privelege. Just like MTV, but with computers.

      The hard-core music fan, or the mildly computer-savvy music fan is going to snort at a service like this, but Middle America might give it a shot (a la AOL). I mean, it's free, right? Napster, Inc. can charge the record co.'s per download of a given song (an "insertion" if you will, pun intended), and balance its books. Fans can try before they buy for free. Hooray, I win!

  • Bravo Napster! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:08PM (#2845182) Homepage
    Before anyone cries "Sell Out" put yourself in Shawns shoes; he has 70 million users, the most famous brand on the net, a once in a lifetime amount of momentum.

    What do you do?

    Shut it down and die, or change it and try and make a buck?

    We were one of the first labels to support Napster in public. And whatever they decide to do in the future, they have unleashed an idea that has changed everything, and for that, we as a label and as artists say "thank you".

    Its up to anyone who does not like the new Napster to take the many free tools that are out there and create something new that is exactly what the public wants.

    Be prepared however, to be vilified, persecuted draged through the courts or worst of all ignored, but whatever you do, dont complain.
    • Re:Bravo Napster! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Suidae ( 162977 )
      I'd have made it sound workable to investors, and given myself a huge salary while developing a service I knew would be worthless. Bank it all and when it all dies, walk away with a bank account full of money.
      • And this is different from what Napster is doing... how?

        Any moment now, that Fanning kid is going to pull an Enron, and we can all laugh and point at his investors together. *warm fuzzy*

        -grendel drago
      • Man, you sure sound like a nice guy that I could call a true friend! NOT.

        (I didn't sense any sarcasm in your post.)


    • Shawn's shoes? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by autopr0n ( 534291 )
      Before anyone cries "Sell Out" put yourself in Shawns shoes;

      You mean sell your tech to your VC uncle and get subsiquently shafted by him for a few hundred thousand dolars on your million (billion?) dolar idea? Or prance around like an idiot frat boy on MTV, totaly blowing your chance to get the MTV generation to care about copyright law?

      Or were you under some sort of impression that Sean Fanning has or ever had any kind of control over napster?
  • by simetra ( 155655 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:09PM (#2845191) Homepage Journal
    I believe I read somewhere that during Napster's heyday, cd sales were at an all-time high. After they shut Napster down, I believe I read that cd sales went into the toilet.

    Coincidence? I think not.

    I'll still continue to download various stuffs, and go out and purchase cds when I find stuff I like. Everyone, including the recording industry, would be a lot happier if they realized what a powerful marketing tool these p2p file sharing dealies are.
    • I believe I read somewhere that during Napster's heyday, cd sales were at an all-time high. After they shut Napster down, I believe I read that cd sales went into the toilet.

      Coincidence? I think not.

      I think it is a coincidence for the most part.

      I would suggest (hey, just one opinion) that the real reason record sales have plunged is the "boy-band" pop phenomenon. As can be expected, sales explode initially with boy bands (think mid/late-80's) and then plunge as the vanilla music gets tiring. Its a fad. Eventually something comes around and sales go up (like Nirvana). Music sells in cycles. Right now, we're on the downside of a cycle. It will pick up again regardless of Napster at some point.
    • Coincidence? I think so...

      You also need to consider the timing, ie, dot-com boom and bust. Back when people were making money hand over fist, there was a little more room for CDs in the budget. Now with layoffs making the news each day, entertainment dollars take a hit.

    • by skoda ( 211470 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:24PM (#2845321) Homepage
      Two years ago:
      Napster is King of the World!
      Dot-com boom
      People rolling in money
      "New Economy"
      The "business cycle" is dead
      People buying many CDs

      The past six months:
      Napster is in third-class cargo
      Dot-com bust
      People getting laid-off in recession
      Same old Economy
      The business cycle isn't quite dead
      People aren't buying as many CDs.

      Correlation does not always mean Causation. I personally think that Napster is indicative, not causative, of music sales.
      • It's tough to say for sure. If understanding why people spend money were a simple matter, there'd be a lot of out of work economists. But there is some strong, albeit empircal, evidence that Napster did help music sales.

        During Napster's heyday, someone figured out that "The Offspring" were the most pirated band on the net. The band embraced the title, even selling Napster t-shirts on their website (until, not without some irony, napster sent them a cease and desist letter). The band's album sold far more copies than expected (the percentage increase in sales was much more than the average band, indicating that there was an effect beyond the strong economy), their concerts sold out and they got far more air/mtv play.

        This only indicates that p2p distribution might help record sales during a strong economy (it says nothing about how it might affect music sales during a down economy tho). However, it does indicate that p2p distribution might have some positive affect on music sales.
  • by SevenTowers ( 525361 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:10PM (#2845198) Homepage
    My opinion is that Napster is dead. It is dead not because it is a bad idea, or because we lack the technology, or even because it costs something. No. It is dead because free P2P is still around. And as long as Joe Blow Billie Bob is able to download music and leaves his Gnutella/WinMX/limewire/bearchare/etc (TM) client open and shares-all-his-music-while-using-all-the-bandwith (TM2), napster has no chance to recover it's glory of old.


    Some big phat cie (ie AOL Time-Warner Microsoft etc) includes a big link on a portal and gets ol' granpa to subscribe.
  • This is the end... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by steddyj ( 449015 ) <slashdot@steddyj ... m ['an.' in gap]> on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:11PM (#2845210) Journal
    We all know that this is will spell the end of Napster. Few will use it to begin with, and, finding the bare library will cancel thier service, slimming the pickens even more.

    Who in their right mind is going to pay for it to begin with, with so [] many [] other [] File Sharing apps on the Free market?
  • RIAA loves this. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:13PM (#2845228)

    The spin will be, that the failure of Napster is due to digital music not being accepted by the public in this form, as its only use is to pirate music.
    • [Napster's] only use is to pirate music

      Is that spin? Or is that reality?

      My understanding was that it wasn't spin, for the majority of Napster users. Guess we'll find out. :)
      • Re:RIAA loves this. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @07:23PM (#2845650) Homepage
        Is that spin? Or is that reality?

        What are the biggest problems with digital music right now?

        * hard to find a given song/artist/CD
        * quality is uneven
        * takes time/effort to rip your own CDs
        * tranfers abort, and lots of incomplete songs around
        * new, better formats, or bigger drive measn that you might want something other than a 128k MP3 in the future

        So what's the solution? To make a crippled pay-per-play system with all of the same shortcomings, except now you have to shell out good money for incomplete downloads?

        If the music companies would provide answers to those problems, they could easily be making ten times what they get today within a decade. Every music consumer in the world pays $14.95 a month for unlimited access to complete archives of the companies, in whatever format is most convenient, digitized straight from the original recording, and with always-on dedicated servers for providing the files.

        And like TiVo, you've got central servers to compare listening tastes, providing you with constantly updated recommendations based on what you've already listened to.

        No more MP3 files with incorrect ID tags, no more ripping and re-ripping, no more aborted downloads. Plus dead-on accurate recommendations for bands you love but never would have known about!

        people will pay for convenience and service in music like everything else. This is a market just waiting for the music industry idiots to get off their butts and sell to it. if Napster did this it would take a few years to get going, but eventually become hugely profitable.

        How financially limited did cable TV look 30 years ago? Yeah, lots of folks just went over to a friends house to watch HBO rather than pay for it themselves. But over time it just became easier for everyone to pay their 35 bucks a month and get cable into their own home. Now people are starting to pay another $9.95 a month for TiVo service and consider it a bargain.

        there's a price point where it's just "too cheap NOT to buy", and the music industry is nowhere near it yet.
        • Someone please mod this up.

          Does anyone know what the average consumer spends on CDs/mo.? I don't, but I'm willing to bet it's not $14.95. More like $5.95. If The Industry would stop worrying about people downloading 10GB of music for free (there's only 24hrs. in a day to listen to music anyway), and concentrated on the cost savings of completely eliminating distribution, it could make a fortune. Who cares if a user is hoarding music, if you don't actually have to pay anything to get it to them? Yeah, bandwidth, sure, but just throttle it, and buy it in bulk. I wouldn't mind waiting overnight to download 200+ songs!

          Allow artists to tap into that $14.95/mo based on how often their song(s) is (are) downloaded.

  • Broadband (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Merkins ( 224523 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:13PM (#2845229) Homepage

    It has all been said before, and will be said again about introducing a new format. Which is totally right, who is going to want a hard drive full of .nap files ?

    But I just had a thought, in Napster's heyday (isn't it scary that last year is already "heyday"), broadband was a lot more prevalent. Now, we have seen boradband companies die, as well as a lot of people losing their jobs and either being off the net (doubtful) or switching to dial up. I couldn't help but wonder how many people are left that will want to sit there on a 56k line and download .nap files.

    just a thought...

    • I seriously doubt that less people are on broadband - sure a lot of broadband companies have died off, but only because they were incorporated or destroyed by much larger broadband companies.

      I would be really, really (really) surprised if considerably more people don't have real internet access now, compared to last year, or two years ago.

    • I couldn't help but wonder how many people are left that will want to sit there on a 56k line and download .nap files.
      trust me... if you hang out enough in IRC, you'd be amazed what people manage with jsut a 56K dialup connection...
      mudic videos, full length movies, you name it.
      hell, there were even people running FILESERVERS from their dialups...
      I'm tellin' ya... you don't know hell until you find this mecca of perfect, rare, LARGE files, only to find out that you're #50 in the cue, and the max download rate is 2K/sec.
    • Well.....

      Of course someone will likely have a .nap to .mp3 converter ready to go in a week or so...
  • Obviously, its going to fail with the mainstream geek market because of other choices available (Kazaa and similar). Not a bad idea, but it will be the puppets of companies. If I've learned one thing, its that if you pay for something, you'll pay a lot more by being forced to watch various ads (and probably listen to them as well). It will pretty much be like those porn sites you pay for that don't have any content, just popups and banners.
  • It has become a parody of itself. I understand that the company had to do this to remain in business, but I don't see why this is newsworthy. The new Napster is a poorly-conceived service that is trying to charge money for a product that is *inferior* to what's being *given away for free* by dozens of other services. Can we please stop talking about it already? It's doomed.

    Perhaps the next rev of Slashcode will allow users to define their own kill filters for headlines?
  • A Necessary Evil? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Vlastyn ( 61832 )
    I for one, enjoy the concept of a new Napster. Yes indeed, the day and age of free music for all is over, but I'm willing to fork over a little bit of cash every month in order to listen to some swell new music. Without Napster, I would have never heard of the Dave Matthews Band. Never would I have been amazed by the sensational pop stylings of Britney Spears. Discovering underground music is what this service is all about, and even if the underground involves money and other less-popular stuff, it's still worth it. Sure, I won't be able to trade from my enormous collection of pristine-sounding 128KB MP3s, but hell, there was a time when you COULDN'T trade music over the Internet. You had to settle for lyrics and tablature, and hum the melodies.

    Why is it that every time a company comes around and decides to charge money for a product, tens of thousands of ninnies decide that it's suddenly no longer 'worth it'? I'll tell you why. It's because they're poor.
  • by Deagol ( 323173 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:18PM (#2845270) Homepage
    From the article:

    There is the option, however, to cancel a download mid stream without depleting your download count.

    Wasn't there something called "leech zmodem" back in the BBS days? This version of zmodem would abort the download at the very last byte, so as to fool the BBS's upload/download ratio tracking.

    I bet something like this will make the rounds when Pay Napster comes online.

    • Wasn't there something called "leech zmodem" back in the BBS days? This version of zmodem would abort the download at the very last byte, so as to fool the BBS's upload/download ratio tracking.

      That's an interesting idea. After that file has been share a few million times, the download will fly! 100:1 compression eat your heart out.
    • NOPE your wrong (Score:2, Informative)

      by k2x ( 538620 )
      Remember you are downloading a file in .nap format. The napster player will (initially) know how to decode the .nap file, where I'm pretty sure they use some kind of integrity checker before it gets played. Plus, if you cancel it, the file will probably not get saved anyway.

      Of course, I'm also pretty sure the hackers will learn the .nap format, find out a way to save incomplete files, and decode/play the file themselves;)

      History teaches us that only time will tell.

    • Leech Zmodem (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pridkett ( 2666 )
      I'm not sure if it was on leech zmodem or not (I never really used it) but I did have a hacked version of HSLink that took advantage of the fact that the protocol required an ACK to say the whole file had been received, it would ignore this and you would have the file, the BBS would think you didn't and more ratio problems. :-)
  • by Archanagor ( 303653 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:19PM (#2845280) Homepage Journal
    Yep, That's right, The New Napster is destined toward failure, by design.


    A Proprietary Format - So, I can't just deposit MP3s on a CD and have hours of listening delight? That sucks. I'm paying to get music and I get a lame-ass proprietary crap format that can't be read by anything but Napster's own player. That alone is enough to keep me from paying.

    Content is slim - Apparently, the record companies get to pick what is distrubuted. They'll distribute the same crap that plays on the radio, and probably at the same crappy quality. You're better off routing your radio receiver to your soundcard, and you can do that for free!

    Do I really want to pay a monthly fee for limited content in a proprietary format? Of course not. This is just a clever way for the RIAA to get it to fail so they can come back and say, "See, we told you so, It wouldn't work. They just want to 'steal' the music, and not obtain it legitmiately."

    I'm dissapointed. I was one of the first to say I would pay to download music in MP3 (not proprietary) format, just so long as I can get what I want. It's potentially a great service that I think some people are willing to pay for, less than a dollar per track, and you get what you like! It's perfect. Or, at least it could have been. Now it's just the bastard child of the RIAA.
    • > A Proprietary Format - So, I can't just deposit MP3s on a CD and have hours of listening delight? That sucks. I'm paying to get music and I get a lame-ass proprietary crap format that can't be read by anything but Napster's own player. That alone is enough to keep me from paying.

      More to the point -- that alone is enough to keep me from using. Even if .nap were free as in beer, I wouldn't bother.

      Anyone got portable devices that play Liquid Audio? Oggs? .NAPs? Anyone? Bueller?

  • I just don't undersatnd why people can't use better [] Gnutella [] clients. Same thing []. No restrictions.

    Call me stupid, if you wish, but I just don't get it.
  • Before everyone dismisses the New and Improved(tm) Napster:

    Free web content is only free if your time is worth nothing.

    Translation: Sure, you can go get all the free bits you want, but the service here is:

    1. Quality
    2. Access to what you want, when you want

    If those can be provided, then perhaps it is worth a small subscription price. There is an incentive (keeping your subscription current) for Napster to provide value. There is no incentive for some random URL to provide value, because without a purchase there is no value by definition.

    However, this only holds true if the value difference remains. If Napster starts providing a substandard service, then it won't be worth the money to subscribe.

    But I do think they deserve a chance, espeically if they will be offering smaller or new artists an opportunity to distribute their music as well.
    • Emusic [] perhaps?

      I know other people have mentioned it in this discussion - but it bears repeating. This is a fantastic service - you get unlimited downloads of the mp3's stored on Emusic servers (and ripped by Emusic, so you know it will be good quality) for ~$10/month, and the artists get paid.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:26PM (#2845332)
    Hurlig Frootmig, HitchHiker's Guide To The Galaxy Editor Emeritus of Megadodo Publications, and the being responsible for the editing of Ford Prefect's entry for "Earth" into the two-word mostly harmless, had this to say:

    We've reviewed the 5000-word review at " r.html", and, well, seeing as how there are a hundred billion other P2P file-sharing applications in the Galaxy (and at least a hundred on Earth alone), and only a limited amount of space in the book's database, we've had to trim it a bit.

    "Sucks ass"

  • by Xenopax ( 238094 ) <xenopax AT cesmail DOT net> on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:26PM (#2845337) Journal
    Seriously, if you are an independent artist and your music is on napster your not going to see a dime. The money from Napster is going to the RIAA as a licensing fee for their music being downloaded, but what about you? Are you going to payed for your work? Someone in the gov't needs to look at this a cry foul, because now not only does the RIAA get to profit from their own artists, but anyone who writes something that makes its way onto Napster.
  • by Forager ( 144256 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:30PM (#2845369) Homepage
    I know this is a common sentiment, but allow me to voice why I won't be subscribing to Napster any time soon:

    If I'm going to be paying a monthly fee for Napster, I'll be expecting a certain level of performance from the service; even if I'm only paying $4.95/month, that's $60/year that I -- a poor college student and a member of the target demographic -- won't have any more. I'm going to expect Napster to deliver, and I don't think it is going to be able to meet my expectations.

    The first thing I'm going to expect is constant uptime. The old Napster delivered this perfectly; I don't think I ever got a "cannot connect" message from Napster. However, even though I could always get on, the selection of files was hardly constant: at times I would go on and have millions of files at my finger tips, from thousands of users; other times I'd find a few hundred users with perhaps half a million files.

    This is significant because of my second expectation: redundancy. When I search for a file, I will expect to have at least 20 different copies of the song to choose from -- thus enabling me to download the song even if the first 15 users give me the busy signal. I want to be able to download the same song (down to the bit) from no less than 20 locations; the more, the merrier.

    This is part of another expectation I have: quality files. I don't want to download a copy of Nirvana's _Smells Like Teen Spirit_ only to find that I downloaded a 128kbit song that's missing the last 5 seconds -- the last 5 seconds might only be fade-time, but it's the principle of the thing. What if I wanted to download a song that goes straight to the last second with no fade-time? I want only complete songs, at nothing less than 256kbit encoding. People on 56k modems might settle for 128kbit (I always settled for 160kbit) but I have faster-than-god 'net access at school, and I'm planning on using it.

    My fourth expectation is speed; I want to be able to download all of my files at no less than 200k/second. I don't care how Napster pulls it off, it's what I'm expecting (my basis for these expectations follows shortly). I expect that kind of speed at all times; 100k/second is acceptable at peak usage, say 6pm - 9pm, but at all other times I damn well better be seeing 200k/second.

    My fifth expectation is to be able to download songs the day they are released on CD. I will expect to have nearly immediate access to all new music that hits the market. If there are going to be delays between release dates and availability on Napster, they won't be getting my patronage. If there are going to be certain bands/lables that I can't download on Napster, I want to know about it BEFORE I sign up; I want it spelled out for me in BIG, BOLD, AOL FRIENDLY LETTERING. I want to see a sign that says "these bands will be inaccessable to you: ------ ".

    For my sixth and final expectation, I expect to be able to burn these songs onto any CD any number of times at full quality. Period. No exceptions. No DRM bullocks. I expect this to work this way.

    I don't think these expectations are unreasonable. Here's why: this is no different from what I can do now.

    At any given time, day or night, peak usage or not, all of the above expectations are met by the various file sharing programs I use. I can't always get a complete copy of whatever song I want on the first try, but I can download seven different versions of the same song in just 10 minutes to make sure I got my 256kbit, COMPLETE, error-free copy of said song. I can get these songs the date they are released (sometimes several days/weeks before). I can burn them onto 10000 CDs if I feel like it, at full quality, and no one will think twice. I can almost always find a host that'll give me 200k/second or higher (I get max out between 400 - 700k/second on gnutella, because my school has the fattest pipe I've ever SEEN). If any of these things aren't available to me under my current setup, that's fine; I'm not paying for any of it. But Napster wants my money, so they damn well better deliver. If I can't get something AS GOOD as what I have now, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and Napster will be $5/month poorer because of it.

    I want to be legal about my downloading (not that I'm downloading anything illegally, of course ... it's all backup, of course, of course ... yeah, that's the ticket!), but if Napster isn't going to give me high-quality service, I'll go about my legal compliance by some OTHER method.

    (Just don't get me started about LEECHES on the new Napster ... )

  • by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:35PM (#2845404) Journal
    I pay a fee to a (many) third party companie(s) to download files from not any of those companies -- but to another user like me who is in turn paying a fee -- and most of the bandwitdth exchanged is between the two user parties. Is this not akin to setting up a dating service in a nightclub. Or selling the recipe for ice....I mean there are already many, many, many alternative methods of P2P file transfer....This is akin to selling tickets to the game -- after the game....ROFL
  • (Score:2, Informative)

    This whole paying for music that you can't use theory is bogus. Everyone should take a look at It has everything you need for your p2p needs.
  • I was thinking Napster was dead and gone but I'm starting to think they might be on to something, especially since it looks like is losing its luster.

    The service should allow artists to choose if they want the "secure" wrapper or plain MP3s, and/or the wrapper should be easy to remove (the way Fanning keeps talking about it the wrapper makes me think it will be).

    The system should allow you to identify rips before you download them (ie, there should be "official" rips for each song, preferably at a few different qualities, and that should get passed around, rather than every dork sharing their own "version" of the track full of skips and dropouts and bad encoding).

    And there should be plenty of tools for learning about new music, and ways for artists to promote themselves (hopefully not ending up with big guys shutting out little guys).

    I think might actually turn out pretty good, especially for indie artists looking for distribution. Better than having to set up your own website and pay for bandwidth, and you might get a few bucks. Just tell people, my new track is up on Napster, check it out.

    The Napster brand is pretty strong too, in fact I still use the term "Napster" even if I'm actually using another service.. like, didja Napster the new Boards of Canada [] album yet?

  • So they want me to pay to use there service, and host content?
    "Hello, McFly!"
    They want to charge fine, but I should get something everytime someone uses MY bandwidth and my system to get the content napster is charging for.
    We knoe they'll fail, they know they'll fail, there just making as much bank as possible so they can go cry in there million dollar homes.
    I am think I should write a script that detects when 99% of a song is downloaded, then terminate the download. Pretty soon everyone will be padding there music a little, and people will be paying for ulimited downloads. Unless its 2 dollars or less per month, they'll fail even with unlimited downloads.
  • by brogdon ( 65526 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @06:50PM (#2845490) Homepage
    On how many days it takes for nap2mp3.exe to appear on usenet? Hell, I had a activation-free copy of XP Pro about six weeks before it was actually released, I would think the hacker community could knock out a .nap to .mp3 converter over a six-pack.
    • On how many days it takes for nap2mp3.exe to appear on usenet?

      Check out Total Recorder [].

  • It' s like (Score:2, Funny)

    by da_Den_man ( 466270 )
    An Ex-Girlfriend told me once.... "Just Let It Go....its over"
  • Cancel option (Score:3, Interesting)

    by psych031337 ( 449156 ) <> on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @07:16PM (#2845627)
    Quote from the article:
    "There is the option, however, to cancel a download mid stream without depleting your download count."

    I can clearly see people killing the download on the last few bytes by clamping down the bandwidth and cutting off the few last bytes in order to save their slots...

  • I mean if you are stupid enough to pay to give bandwidth and harddrive space you are stupid.

    Maybe if Napster were more like an or CDnow it would work
  • try here [].

    its not in english, but they have some very cool stuff!
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @07:27PM (#2845673)
    If they brought back the old Napster (tons of files, MP3, failed downloads, shitty RIPs, lame client) I'd willing pay for it now.

    Put if it was pay only, no one would use it, and if nobody uses it, there's no files, etc etc.
  • I'm afraid the author missed the boat completely with a fundamental assumption. The client comes with "limited reach", that is you don't hit every server on the network, just a reasonable number of local servers. The author then just decides that this is bad, and that users will want to contact all servers for every query.

    That would be a bad idea.

    In fact, the user doesn't care if they can contact all the servers, they only care that they can contact a single server with the song that they want. One user shares a song with 5 people, who share with 5 people (25 + 5 = 30), who share with 5 people (125 + 30 = 180) who share with 5 people, (625 + 180 = 805), who each share with 5 people (3125 + 805 = 3930). Well, look at that, nearly 4000 people had the song, and each user only had to talk to 6 other servers (one to download, 5 to send).

    If every user had to talk to every other user there would be no way for the system to survive. The key to scaling is to distribute the content, which means you don't need to hit every server . Of course, this doesn't mean the system will survive, but I believe the observed real world is a teeny fraction of what this paper puts forth as reality.

  • I agree with those that say the new Napster has been designed to fail. But it's not just the fact you can get more tracks and a better service for free from the many alternatives, the 'laziness' factor will also play a large part. The reason Napster became so popular was because it was so easy to use. No more hunting through FTP and web sites, just click and download. This is why it was worth the effort of downloading, installing, and learning how to use. And this is why rivals had a hard time gaining any market share... Napster worked so why try anything else?

    So Napster went down and people *had* to use alternatives. These are now very good and people are comfortable with using their new software (be it AudioGalaxy, Bearshare, DirectConnect, etc). Even if Napster had all its original content and didn't use the doomed proprietry format it would still need something extra to make people move from the software they are now comfortable with (eg the promise of X TB of cached music with low hit count so numerous tracks do not become invisible when one person switches off their machine). Certainly its glory days are over.

  • by xinit ( 6477 )
    Oh come on - you could pay the same to and get as much as you can download. Sure, you can't directly interact with the other users, but that's way over-rated since many conversations would beging with "a/s/l?" anyhow.
    • i was reluctant... perhaps the fact that The Olivia Tremor Control is one of the most popular artists on the site doesn't bode well for emusic's commercial success, but it does bode well for my MP3 collection. Ahh those goofy boys from Athens, what will they think of next?
  • Then go buy a ticket for their next concert. Even if you can'y go, buy one anyway. I can tell you for a FACT that buying one ticket puts more cash into their pocket then buying a dozen of their CD's. Screw the record labels. Screw Hilary Rosen (oh wait, guys can't do her LOL). Put the money where it the pockets of the performers!
  • IMHO an on-line music service should have the following traits:

    1) You register for the service (for free)
    2) The service provides a wide range of music
    3) Music is priced reasonably: say $1 / song.
    4) The music DB is accurate, up to date, and searchable by band, performer, genre, date, etc.
    5) Subscriber reviews are provided (like Amazon) and moderated (like Slashdot). You can search for music based on review content and subscriber ratings of music.
    6) Music is provided in the format of your choice: MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, etc.
    7) Your purchase is registered with the site; once you've purchased and downloaded a song, you can download it at a later date in a different format or encoding at no additional charge.
    8) You get to preview a song (listen to the first 30 seconds or so) for free.
    9) You are free to play the song on any device; your computer, your CD player, your DVD, or your toaster.
    10) You may burn the song onto CD's or any other devices for you own use.
    11) The site provides services for music fans (e.g. marketing): info on bands, event schedules, interviews, on-line chats with bands, etc.
    12) In exchange for the above, the subscriber agrees not to re-sell / re-distribute purchased songs.

    This would be win-win. The labels would make money, the bands would make money and get exposure, customers would benefit. Too bad that it'll never happen.
  • The real story (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2002 @03:05AM (#2847101) Homepage
    Pay Napster is destined to fail miserably, just as the RIAA plans.

    People will refuse to pay for this; not because of a refusal to pay for content, but a refusal to pay for such limited, proprietary content. That won't stop the RIAA from pointing to the failed pay Napster business model and claiming it supports their claims that only music "pirates" used Napster.

    Then they'll jack up CD prices a little more. All in a day's work.


"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman