Napster Giving Away Free Subscriptions, MP3 Players On Tour

Four-city Napster to Go Cafe Tour launches Wednesday in New York.

For some of you, it might feel like the good old days of 2000: Get together with a bunch of friends and download hundreds, or even thousands, of songs onto your MP3 players from Napster. Only this time it's legal and the swapping is happening out in the open, not secretly in your dorm room.

A month after unveiling the $30 million ad campaign for their Napster to Go program — which allows people to download an unlimited number of songs as long as they maintain a $14.95 per month subscription — Napster is taking the show on the road.

The Napster to Go Cafe Tour will launch Wednesday with an event at the Coffee Shop in New York, one of four stops where people can fill up their MP3 players from Napster's million-plus song library, and get some free coffee to boot.

Along with the "free fills and refills" of MP3 players and free Napster to Go subscriptions ranging from 90 days to one year, Napster will be giving away iRiver, Creative and Dell MP3 players at the tour events on a first come, first served basis, according to a company spokesperson.

The Cafe Tour will also hit West Hollywood and Nashville in the next month, with the promise of appearances by Carson Daly and "Viva La Bam" star Bam Margera at a March 17 private event at the Speakeasy during the South by Southwest Music Festival.

The Napster to Go effort has squarely targeted the popularity of the iPod and Apple's iTunes in print and TV ads by touting the ability to fill your MP3 player with unlimited songs without paying 99 cents per track, a stab at the typical price per track on iTunes.

While iTunes allows you to purchase songs and store them on your iPod, until recently other music subscription services had limited ability to store songs on portable players. Napster's new service works with a number of PC-compatible players and is akin to renting songs versus owning them; once the subscription is canceled, the audio files will no longer play.

The Napster to Go tour:

  • 3/9 - New York, NY @ Coffee Shop (8 to 10 p.m.)

  • 3/17 - Austin, TX @ Speakeasy (10 p.m. to 4 a.m.)

  • 3/30 - West Hollywood, CA @ Mel's Drive-In (8 to 10 p.m.)
  • 4/4 - Nashville, TN @ Jackson's (4 to 6 p.m.)

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