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The New Napster: The Catch?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Mud Flaps, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    I've been contemplating the Napster thing for about a week now. It seems like a good deal for me, as I'm a very busy guy who constantly loses his CDs.

    Are there any TBers out there who are subscribed to Napster? What's the catch?
  2. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    They make you pay now.

  3. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    yah.. it's like a phone card system- you pay for a certain amount of credits then use them. I'm not sure if it's cheaper if you buy more at a time, but I don't think it is. I have no idea how the royalties and licensing works out.
  4. The catch is the sound quality is udder crapola. While CD quality is somewhere around 126... I think this is like, 64...
  5. slick519


    Aug 11, 2001
    Salem, Or
    i thought that napster had a pay by the month system set up.... but wow... who would ever pay for 64kbps mp3s? i would rather listen to a guitarist soloing infront of his mirror....
  6. SirPoonga


    Jan 18, 2005
    there's iTunes.
  7. Timbo


    Jun 14, 2004
    *dramatic pause*
  8. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I don't know all the fine details, but essentially, as soon as you cancel your subscription you lose the ability to play the music you downloaded, and to burn CDs to prevent that from happening costs money(I think the full price of the CD, well $10, but I'm not sure) Same for if you want to move songs to a portable music player.

    Freaky, I don't think the napster quality is below 128("cd" quality) it might even be 160. That said, when you buy digital music you always get something of a shot to the quality, but it's also way cheaper and way more convenient than going to the store. I bought two CDs today, and it cost me nearly $30, I could have gotten at least 3 CDs on iTunes for that much. *shrug*

    The other 'catch' to napster is that, since iTunes commands over 90% of the market, and is constantly growing and beating sales expectations, it's kinda risky to support *any* alternative, since it might easily die out. This *is* the 3rd version of napster after all, the last one was a flop, and before that it was illegal. There are rumors that iTunes is going to open a subscription based service in addition to the download based service they have now well YMMV but, I dunno, iTunes is great for me.
  9. I'm quoting that to emphasize that fact. You can download tons of music, but as a subscription service, once you unsubscribe, you lose ALL your music. So far, the DRM has yet to be broken...and if it ever is broken, you can be assured there will be a brand-new one in place faster than, well, lots of fast things.

    From the Napster FAQ, they use 128 WMA files. Any lossy audio codec at 128 kbps is a BARE MINIMUM for quality. Even iTunes uses 128 AAC. I personally swear by 160 AAC. With my Klipsch speakers, I cannot distinguish 160 AAC music from the CD, while I could always pick out the 192 MP3. In my personal opinion, AAC is the best common codec (due to iTunes). MP3 is mediocre and WMA is even worse. WMA significantly compresses the high-frequencies, so the music sounds somewhat "dead". In the high-frequency ranges, MP3s (to my ears) introduce compression artifacts, but do not kill those frequencies entirely. Most noticable are the compression of sounds like cymbal hits. Before I switched to iTunes, I used 160 WMA which is still pretty bad. I re-ripped ALL my CDs with 160 AAC once I got iTunes. If people wanted, I'd be happy to do a comparison of WAV files after compressing the files, so you can compare the differences. I typically use a Dream Theater track for the dynamic range of frequencies.

    Again, this is just my opinion, but if you don't care much for audio quality and want that "I need my music now" fix, then Napster may work for you. However, if you care about music quality and/or want to actually build a library of music without having to pay a monthly subscription service, you'd be better off buying the actual CDs. In fact, I don't really advocate iTunes for buying entire albums (for single tracks, I think it's fine). While it may be a little cheaper, getting 128 AAC files just aren't worth NOT having the actual, lossless CD.
  10. Just as another suggestion for those who want to buy CDs. I recommend using the CDNOW Preferred Buyer's Club through Amazon.com. I've bought nearly 10 CDs through them by now. It's not a "club" in the sense we're all probably used to (e.g., BMG). You get lower prices (CDs are usually $10 or less) and the "club" requirement is that after your first CD purchase, you have to buy a second CD within the following year. That's it. The only main problem is that they don't have everything, so you'll see some CDs on Amazon.com with a "Club Price" and some without. I usually just wait and hope, as some CDs do appear (or disappear) from the "Club". With free shipping over $25, I just buy three CDs at a time and get a good deal overall.
  11. Here's a suggestion:

    Step 1: Buy used cds

    Step 2: Go home and copy them

    Step 3: Go back and return those cds.

    I haven't done this....but seems foolproof, no?
  12. SirPoonga


    Jan 18, 2005
    It isn't foolproof. Many stored will not allow you to return opened CDs, such as Target.

    A better plan is to goto your local library if they do CDs.
  13. Do most stores take used CDs back? Either way, used ones are often so cheap that you might as well keep them around.
  14. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Here's an idea...pay for the music you want to have. Just because you can get something for little or nothing doesn't mean you should.

    I know the music buisness is full of scummy people, but if I was putting out music for a living, I'd want you to pay a fair price.

    We hope that people will pay us when we play at their bar or dance or corporate meeting, etc. Why shoudln't we pay to listen to other musicians work.

    I do my online stuff via iTunes. I think $.99 is a fair price for a song.

    Don't be so g*d d**n cheap.
  15. genderblind


    Oct 21, 2004
    This is what people used to do - in a time not so long ago when interesting artists stood a chance of being heard by a larger audience because mid-level labels could make a profit on these artists, as their fans were not simply ripping off their tracks at low audio quality from the net.
  16. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    ... Truly horrendous times, those.

    Can anyone describe how Napster actually keeps control over whether or not you can play the MP3s after your subscription has ended? That seems interesting, but overall, rather confusing to think about.
  17. First off, they're not MP3s. They're WMA files. WMA, Windows Media Audio, is a standard developed by Microsoft and is set up to employ DRM (Digital Rights Management). Actually, to my knowledge, when you rip CDs with Windows Media Player, the DRM is, by default, turned ON. MP3 is basically an "open" format in that there was never a DRM built into the format. That means an MP3 file will play on your machine, my machine, any machine that supports playback of MP3 files.

    WMA files are a different story. As I said before, Napster uses WMA files and employs Microsofts DRM to "protect" their files. Basically, a rough overview of how it works is that the DRM calculates some sort of "password" based off of specific and unique variables in your computer (e.g., Windows serial number, other serial numbers, system specs, etc.). Without this "password," you can't play that file unless you are authorized. This means that your files won't play on another computer. All of this is handled behind the scenes when you play music.

    The difference between ripping a CD on your computer with DRM enabled and Napster is that all the files you download through Napster are encoded with a DRM that they can authorize and de-authorize whether you are a paying customer or not. So, when you stop paying for your Napster service, they de-authorize your DRM, which locks you out of playing those files.

    The only thing I'm not sure about is a scenario like this: Say you loaded some portable MP3 with 40 GB of these Napster WMA files. You stop paying for your Napster service and just never plug in your portable MP3 to your computer, so Napster cannot tell it that the files are no longer DRM-authorized. I'm not sure how it works, then, but it also means you could never update your MP3 player.
  18. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA
    Question of the Day - if a musician is unwilling to pay for music - how can they expect anyone else to pay for it?

  19. Thee


    Feb 11, 2004
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    Actually, only one person advocated not paying for music, and that was jr, and, oh wait, no he did say buy music.

    I'm uncertain as to why people are jumping on this pirating thing when no one has actually brought that up.
  20. I believe that the only thing that was mentioned that is actually piracy is www.allofmp3.com. While it is a service where you pay for music, it is a Russian service and is not legally authorized to sell the music they sell. They were sued by the RIAA and basically Russia told them that they can't sue.

    My guess is that people automatically associate the name "Napster" with "stealing music." Frankly, for the Napster company, that's a bad way to start off a business. However, all the original poster was asking for was opinions on the service.

    So, to the original poster, I would personally recommend buying CDs and ripping them to your computer with iTunes at 160 AAC as a backup, since you say you lose CDs easily.