February 7, 2005 5:13 PM PST

Napster's ad: Forget fashion, music's a value play

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The difference between Napster and Apple Computer music offerings was made clear during Sunday's Super Bowl: Apple is a high-end fashion statement, while Napster is about value shopping.

That may be an extreme take, but it isn't far from the advertising messages the two companies are now sending as they square off at different poles of the digital-music markets.

Napster's Super Bowl ad was the kickoff for a $30 million marketing campaign aimed at introducing a mainstream audience to the music "rental" model. It's the first time any company has spent a substantial amount of money marketing the online subscription model, an idea that many analysts have said will take some serious explaining for consumers to understand.

Did it work? It's too early to say, but the reviews were decidedly mixed. USA Today's focus group, for instance, rated Napster's ad dead last in terms of popularity.

The company responded somewhat testily, saying the newspaper's rating and other ho-hum reactions had missed the point.

"Did it have pigs or monkeys in it? No," said Napster spokeswoman Dana Harris. "We weren't trying to make people laugh; we were trying to make people understand something."

Indeed, with another few months to go in its expensive advertising campaign, Napster has bet its future that people will ultimately understand its message.

Napster's new "Napster to Go" subscription service offers access to an unlimited amount of music per month for a $14.99 fee. That music can be put on compatible MP3 players, but can only be played as long as the subscriber keeps paying the fee.

Because most consumers are used to paying for CDs and owning the music forever, that "rental" model will take considerable explaining, analysts say.

It's true that the most popular advertisements aren't necessarily the most effective. GoDaddy's wardrobe malfunction-themed ad on Sunday caused tongues to wag, but some viewers were left scratching their heads trying to remember what exactly the company did.

Nevertheless, some advertising consultants said that a powerful ad first needed to engage the emotions, even if an appeal to a consumer's logical side is also important.

"It's what you lead with," said Jordan Fisher, director of brand planning at Perceive, an advertising agency in Los Angeles. "It's like when the iPod launched, they focused on that great sense of freedom. Then at the end of the spot, they also said it could hold 10,000 songs."

But even on the effectiveness rating, Napster's advertisement, which

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Windows Copy-Protected Capabilities?
If one subscribes to Napster, they probably can't even burn their songs to CD, can they? or that would defeat the purpose of rented music. I give Napster 2 thumbs down. Of course, I may be a bit partial. I'm an avid iPod, iTunes, and future PowerBook user.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You can not burn the music, so you never own it it is just another way to give you a monthly payment, iTunes all the way. Napster will fail,
Posted by EarthToApple (162 comments )
Link Flag
One way
Napster isn't bad, it's just a very different approach from iTunes.
I personally would not like the service. What Napster failed to
point out in the ad is that the songs you downloaded vanish
once you stop paying $15/month, and that the songs can't be
burned to CD without paying extra. I listen to songs way longer
than a month, so to me paying 99ยข and having the song forever
is a better deal than $15 for all I want, because the song isn't
really mine and is tied to my monthly fee. Some people,
however, may find a service like this compelling.
Posted by iKenny (98 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vanishing act for an encore....
Oh yeah, Napster forgot to tell you that you just storage these leased songs forever on you mp3 player or PC HDD. If you don't reconnect to the internet, then these leased songs *expire*.

Again you lose if you quit.
Posted by pankers--2008 (5 comments )
Link Flag
Napster Irony
It's funny math Napster 2 calculates:
Napster 1 download millions of *free* mp3s on to millions of PC's which in turn filled a large share of flash and HD mp3 players, not only iPods but Zens, Rios and iRivers.

Now you say they don't have the music already?

Really, how many iPod and Zen owners *need* to spend $10,000 to fill 60 gigs?
Posted by pankers--2008 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Napster isn't even campatible with an iPOD???
Okay, not a huge Apple fan here, but get real. I was considering
using this new Napster service but find out I can't even use it
with one of the new 512MB iPod Shuffles (the new low cost iPod
thingy $99). So, I have to get some other crappy flash player, or
spend big bucks on a RIO or one of the other hard drive models
that are somewhere in the $199 - $299 range. Not to mention,
if I cancel my Napster account all my music goes with it??? What
about my own CD's that I already own... come to think of it, they
were saying that the iTunes services would cost $10,000. What
if I only want to use the iTune software for managing my current
collection of 600+ CD's. That';s free right? So I still don't see
the benefit of the new Napster service over my own CD
collection, or using one of the new cheap iPod's with the iTunes
software (which is FREE and actaully damn good). There library
of music is pretty weak at Napster too. I have not seen all the
stuff at the iTunes store yet, but the Napster stuff seems to be
fairly limited. I can't imagine them having the cloat to sign up as
many of the major lables like the iTune store has already done.

What so the rest of you think about this Napter service. I think it
sounds good on the surface, but seems to be just another music
service trying to seduce us all to them with promises.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Windows only, WMA & MP3 compression only (both poor in
compression to AAC not to mention old), two toy music players?
(or is it up to three now), and of course the its not your license
music policy. Napsters real add campaign Please pay a monthly
fee for low quality audio and limitations. We have to feed our
children and cant think up good ideas on our own. Thank you
Netflix and iTunes for creating two great products that we can
imitate and mutilate to try and make money.
At least with an iTunes there isnt a constant worry that you
wont get your moneys worth out of your purchase every
month. If you use the Napsters new service you lose money just
for not listening to music.
Posted by notagumshoe (44 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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