Napster to release DIY Radio

My spam filter often tells me that there is no such thing as a free lunch. You almost always have to give something to get something back. I've discussed this about free content several times in the past here and here. Free content is technically incorrect. A better way to put it would be "subsidised content".

I've toyed with the idea of ad subsidised content for quite sometime and it has been a very popular way to cut costs and/or increase revenues. In exchange for your time watching or listening to free adverts, you can get free phone calls, free mobile phone calls and more.

Now Napster is planning to give away free music in a bid to catch up with the market leader, Apple's iTunes, which will use advert money to subsidise the cost of the songs. To some extent, there is not much differentiating it from a rudimentary, do it yourself radio service albeit without news - guess you could download podcasts instead.

Napster will ‘give away’ nearly 2 million tunes from its catalogue free of charge and with only one string - some will say rope - attached. You can listen to a song five times only - which means that there is some digital rights management mechanism attached to it. Unlike iTunes, Napster is compatible with a larger variety of digital music devices available on the market but unsurprisingly not with Apple's iPod range.

The ex-MP3 champion has attracted more than 600,000 subscribers since re-launching itself in 2003. Napster has struck a number of partnerships with content giants to support its move. It will face stiff competition from iTunes and other services like RealNetwork's Rhapsody and Wippit which haven't counter fired yet.