If you've logged onto Napster lately then you already know there isn't much of a reason to go there. You won't find any Janet Jackson, Destiny's Child, Britney, Backstreet Boys or Aerosmith. Actually, you won't find much of anything by your favorite artists.
The record labels have been busy sending in the lists of artists and songs to be removed from Napster. So what's Napster doing to try and stay afloat? The company is encouraging users to sign-up for the new subscription service. The new Napster is a version you have to pay for in order to get the tunes you want. Testing will begin around June 2001 and the full launch of the new Napster is scheduled for sometime that summer.
Testing the new subscription will determine whether Napster will survive or if the service is doomed for good. The company has said there will always be a free component to Napster but I'm sure the free part will be for unknown artists looking for exposure - not the ones you're looking for.
The cost of the service isn't known yet but my guess is that the company will keep the fee between five and 15 dollars per month. If the price is too high people won't bother with it at all. The company is also working on song-monitoring software which includes "audio fingerprinting" technology. With this technology, Napster would be able to track the music being traded among users and pay the appropriate royalties (money) to the labels and artists.
Another problem for the site is that so far the only record company willing to do business with the new service is BMG Music. This means that only artists belonging to this label will be available on Napster. Hopefully, for music lovers, other labels will follow BMG's lead.
So for now, the Napster saga continues. We're just going to have to tough it out for awhile until the company gets its paid subscription service up and running. Then wait a little longer to figure out if Napster can survive in the long run... and not get voted off the island.