Napster to launch fee-based service in mid-2001

By the middle of this year Napster plans to launch a subscription service that will co-exist with its existing free one.

          Napster will launch a subscription service this summer that promises high-quality music downloads, a spokesman for German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG has confirmed.

          In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thomas Middelhoff, Bertelsmann's chief executive officer, announced there would be a second Napster service. Middelhoff said he expects the new service to go live in June or July.

          "The new service will co-exist with the existing Napster service," said Frank Sarfeld, senior vice president of the Bertelsmann eCommerce Group, in an interview. "Internet users will still be able to use the current Napster service."

          Bertelsmann formed a strategic alliance with Napster last October. The German giant provided Napster with a loan when the company was fencing off claims from the record industry in court.

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