Napster Joins DRM-Free Revolution, Announces Start of MP3 Sales

January 7, 2008 11:06 AM ET

Napster will undergo yet another identity change in its tumultuous history, as the digital-music service will return to its MP3 roots by allowing users to purchase songs and albums in DRM-free MP3 format, meaning its tracks will now be compatible with a wide range of portable players, including the iPod. Napster — the program that launched a million illegal-downloading sites, fueled the eventual decline of the record industry and drew the ire of Metallica — has been operating mostly as a subscription music-streaming site since 2002, when Roxio purchased the beleaguered Napster brand. Shawn Fanning's ex-company plans to unleash their MP3s during the second quarter of 2008. Last week unconfirmed reports indicated that Sony/BMG will be ditching the unpopular DRM model. Amazon's MP3 store and iTunes Plus are already vending DRM-free.

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Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

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