Napster, BMG Plan To Roll Out Subscription Service By Summer

Meanwhile, file-sharing service continues to negotiate with other labels.

Ever since Napster and music giant BMG announced in October that they would cooperate on a subscription-based version of the service, many users have been asking themselves, "Am I going to shell out the cash for what I've been getting for free?"

It looks like they may have to decide that question as soon as this summer.

"I'm convinced we can introduce in June or July of this year a subscription model with a real working digital rights management system," Thomas Middelhoff, chief executive of BMG parent company Bertelsmann AG, said Monday (January 29), according to Reuters.

But Napster Chief Executive Hank Barry told the news service that there's no timeline for the subscription service, which would require users to pay a monthly fee to download music from such BMG artists as Christina Aguilera, the Dave Matthews Band and Santana.

As part of its alliance with Napster, BMG agreed to drop its lawsuit against the file-sharing service, which boasts 57 million registered users. On Thursday, TVT Records dropped its $1.5 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit based on the BMG/Napster subscription in the works.

Barry also said that negotiations are continuing with other music labels, and Bertelsmann's e-commerce group CEO Andreas Schmidt told Reuters that other music publishers may join the alliance in the next two weeks.