In the past, owning music meant buying a physical copy of it. Then it became possible to buy a digital copy of an album or selected tracks. And then Spotify arrived on the scene, and the market shifted again. Now – in return for a monthly subscription – it’s now possible to rent the equivalent of an entire three-storey music store for a relatively low monthly fee.
Spotify made the early running, but recent changes to its free account have angered users, who are now casting around looking for alternatives. Sensing an opportunity, Napster has revamped its monthly subscription plans, lowering the price (but ditching the option of downloading five tracks permanently as MP3 files for every month of your subscription) to compete.
While Napster’s charges are keenly competitive for those listening to music on their computers or portable music players, you’ll have to pay a hefty premium – double in fact – for the privilege of accessing Napster’s 15-million strong catalogue from your smartphone. If you can stomach the additional cost, though, there’s plenty to like about its smartphone app.
The smartphone client works in tandem with your existing Napster account - everything you need to access your streaming subscription is here, split into four sections: Browse, My Collection, Search and Player. Each works as you'd expect, and makes the whole process as simple and straightforward as possible, thanks in part to the clean, uncluttered interface.
Better still, you can download tracks to your phone so they're available to play offline - while your subscription is still active of course. Permanent downloads are available if you purchase the track outright - these are then saved in your phone's music folder in MP3 format, and are available through your phone's music player.
Clean, clear and uncluttered, although doubling the subscription cost for the privilege of accessing music through your smartphone does seem unfair.