I often forget that Napster is one of Europe’s leading premium subscription music services. Maybe because I’m old, but to me the brand seemed stuck in its P2P past, despite now being a totally legitimate streaming service with a complete catalogue of 18 million tracks from over 650 genres. More importantly, it seems to lack the mind share (amongst my social and professional circle admittedly) of other streaming services, most notably the excellent Spotify. However I was given the chance to try the service out and see what it’s like in the modern age.
I fired up the iOS app, which was fast and easy to navigate. I’m a massive Spotify fan but shifting to Napster for a week or two didn’t seem to leave any significant gaps in my listening library or in feature parity. This is not your father’s Napster.
I kept trying to catch it out and for the most part they kept up (although I couldn’t find any John Mullaney stand up albums which is a grave omission). Visually the app lacks the chunky clarity of the redesigned Spotify – but only by a tiny margin.
However, where Napster excels is in music discovery. The mobile recommendation engine is great at finding key artists in various genres and sub-genres. I felt like testing some new headphones and watched some drum and bass. Napster was great at recommending Goldie, Photek and Aphrodite – as well as the “greatest hits“ of each artist. It’s a great way to get to know various genres and artists on the go. There’s also a radio streaming service where you can passively discover great (and awful) tunes.
This is powered by Mix; Napster’s unique music discovery engine. However, rather than an algorithm, an in-house team of music experts sift through Napster’s extensive music catalogue to enhance music discovery through reviews, playlists, recommendations and access to over 200 themed radio stations. Additionally, the team produce 6-10 new features each week, covering all the latest music news in the UK.
Napster is out now at a smartphone near you!
The Napster service is available in two simple subscription packages:
Price: 5 per month
Allows full PC access and on single room audio systems
Napster Unlimited + Mobile
Price: 10 per month
All of the above plus access on 3 authorised mobile devices for offline playback, ideal for commuters.
Mobile Platforms: Android, iPhone.