updated 11:25 am EST, Fri January 12, 2007
Music Now to close
AOL today revealed that it is forsaking its Music Now online music store, sending the company's existing 350,000 subscribers to Napster. Napster -- one of Apple's primary competitors in the digital music industry -- has agreed to maintain pricing and other aspects of the AOL users' service until the changeover is complete in the next two months. While AOL gave no exact reason for the change, the company in late summer of last year said it was exiting the paid content business, switching instead to a free ad-sponsored model after bleeding large numbers of subscribers to its core internet access. AOL only launched Music Now in mid-2006, but the adoption of AOL customers may have a dramatic impact on Napster's influence in online music downloads, according to Electronista. The company recently reveled in unusual success among non-iTunes stores, jumping by nearly 50,000 subscribers at the end of 2006 to reach a total of 566,000. The AOL deal will see Napster's total user base jump by over 60 percent.