Napster DRM Killed the Music Star


napster to go logoA while ago I reviewed a couple of different music subscription services including Yahoo and Napster and decided to try Napster out for a while. I signed up for the Napster-To-Go service for 14.99/month so I could load up my iRiver Portable Media Center player with all my new music.

At first, things went pretty good. Sure, the Napster interface is really slow (no matter if you use it through Windows Media Player or stand-alone) but I was still able to download a ton of new music. This brought life back to my stale music collection and I was really enjoying the freedom of listening to whatever I wanted. Then, after I had already downloaded 7 GB worth of music (over 300 albums) – disaster struck. I updated Napster to the latest release and somehow my license file that says I can use the downloaded music wasn’t working. And what was Napster’s solution – download all of the music again. All 300 hundred albums. I am not against digital rights management but it has got to work. So I’m done with Napster, and I’m done with music subscription services. Napster needs to seriously evaluate how their licensing works. Using license files is really lame – a better strategy has to be out there.

Digital rights management and music don’t mix. There are a million things that could go wrong on your computer and then your license file is gone – and so if your whole music collection. I’m not going to keep rebuilding my music collection every time Napster decides to upgrade their program or my computer crashes. Sure, you might pay a monthly fee to use your cell phone but you don’t lose anything if your phone dies. What if your TiVo spontaneously decided that you couldn’t watch any of your recorded TV shows? A person’s music collection is too personal and too emotionally connected to have these sort of issues – a rock solid DRM solution has to be in place in order for it to ever fully work.

Oh, and when I tried to unsubscribe from Napster, I had to call a 1 800 number. What’s your DRM horror story?





Filed in: Content Providers


  • http://dascoop.info bugmenot

    There’s nothing wrong with using “license files”. You acquire a license for every piece of content you download. When you attempt to use the content (transfer,burn,play etc) it will check your local license store and if necessary it will contact the license server specified in the media file. With subscription files, it requires that your check in to renew the licenses periodically. It seems that the problem the author encountered was that napster somehow issued broken licenses or licenses that couldnt be renewed…which is the very core of their subscription model business! I work for a small music service and iif we ever told someone they had to re-download everything in order to play it, whoever worked on the license generator/server would be FIRED.

  • jbeltran

    Tim Coyle said: A while ago I reviewed a couple of different music subscription services including Yahoo and Napster and decided to try Napster out for a while. I signed up for the Napster-To-Go service for 14.99/month so I could load up my iRiver Portable Media Center player with all my new music.

    At first, things went pretty good. Sure, the Napster interface is really slow (no matter if you use it through Windows Media Player or stand-alone) but I was still able to download a ton of new music. This brought life back to my stale music collection and I was really enjoying the freedom of listening to whatever I wanted. Then, after I had already downloaded 7 GB worth of music (over 300 albums) – disaster struck. I updated Napster to the latest release and somehow my license file that says I can use the downloaded music wasn’t working. And what was Napster’s solution – download all of the music again. All 300 hundred albums. I am not against digital rights management but it has got to work. So I’m done with Napster, and I’m done with music subscription services. Napster needs to seriously evaluate how their licensing works. Using license files is really lame – a better strategy has to be out there.

    Digital rights management and music don’t mix. There are a million things that could go wrong on your computer and then your license file is gone – and so if your whole music collection. I’m not going to keep rebuilding my music collection every time Napster decides to upgrade their program or my computer crashes. Sure, you might pay a monthly fee to use your cell phone but you don’t lose anything if your phone dies. What if your TiVo spontaneously decided that you couldn’t watch any of your recorded TV shows? A person’s music collection is too personal and too emotionally connected to have these sort of issues – a rock solid DRM solution has to be in place in order for it to ever fully work.

    Oh, and when I tried to unsubscribe from Napster, I had to call a 1 800 number. What’s your DRM horror story?

    I am so glad I have read your post here, I was looking into Napster. I too just picked up a new MP3 player & was looking to fill it (20 gig) but I sure do not want these problems.
    I am going to do more research.

  • http://www.fstop-blues.com Tim Coyle

    I am not satisfied with Napster’s licensing scheme. Someone told me that Yahoo has a feature that you can download your license file again over the web so you don’t have to download all of your music again. Napster might have the same feature but I haven’t seen it.

    I don’t have issues with licensing just bad licensing schemes that don’t work. I have purchased iTunes songs and have transferred my songs to different computers for a couple of years with no problems. I think I’m just going to stay away from subscription services.