Napster has bowed to the inevitable and stripped away the DRM from its entire catalogue of tracks, meaning music purchased through the service is Mac, iPod and iPhone compatible for the first time.
The service is offering six million tracks, free of usage limitations, in high-quality 256kbps MP3 format. The company says it is offering the “largest and most comprehensive” selection of music in the world, 50 per cent more than any other store, according to a company press release.
Napster is the first music subscription service featuring major label content to offer 100 per cent of its catalogue in the MP3 format for download sales.
"Music fans have spoken and it's clear they need the convenience, ease of use and broad interoperability of the DRM-free MP3 format, and they want to be able to find both major label artists and independent music all in one place. Napster is delighted to deliver all of this and more with the world's largest MP3 catalog," said Napster's chairman and CEO Chris Gorog.
Pricing for download sales will remain at 99 cents for single MP3 tracks and $9.95 for most MP3 albums, Napster confirmed.
Susan Kevorkian, IDC's Consumer Markets program director said: "By offering millions of high quality, MP3-encoded DRM-free tracks from all of the major labels as well as independents, this service is well-positioned to appeal to the broad spectrum of music lovers, including iPod and iPhone owners."
What makes this news all the more remarkable is that Napster has managed to convince all the major labels to take part, with DRM-free tracks also available from the last major hold-out in this, Sony-BMG.
Napster is also promising to make all tracks available through its Napster Mobile service DRM-free in future, and is currently testing a new version of this service with that end in mind.
Unlike Microsoft, which has refused support to former customers of MSN Music, Napster says all customers who have purchased Windows Media tracks in its former incarnation will continue to receive support.