Napster is edging closer to launching its paid online music service, but it's keeping quiet about key details, Billboard Bulletin reports. A spokeswoman declines to say how many files will be availabl

Napster is edging closer to launching its paid online music service, but it's keeping quiet about key details, Billboard Bulletin reports. A spokeswoman declines to say how many files will be available, how many customers the service expects to attract, or what it will cost. Even the launch date is up in the air.

Bertelsmann, which in October invested $60 million in Napster and pledged to help develop a paid model, has said July 1, but Napster says only that it will be sometime this summer. "The next thing is the service launching," says a source close to the company.

The new Napster will feature "the world of independent music," says interim CEO Hank Barry. Thanks to a recent licensing agreement, content from online music platform MusicNet is expected; however, BMG, EMI Recorded Music, and Warner Music Group, the labels behind MusicNet, say they won't release music to Napster until it fully addresses their longstanding copyright concerns.

MusicNet and pressplay, the other major-label-backed online music service (formerly known as Duet), have been equally mum about the particulars of their offerings, which are also intended to debut this summer.

Research firm Webnoize's latest figures reveal the number of simultaneous users on Napster has nearly halved to about 840,000, since the service was hit with an injunction in February. Analysts say that's still good enough to be a top destination on the Internet, particularly among music sites. And with 80 million registered users, Napster officials say they're confident the new service will be profitable. For now, the company's not saying anything more.

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