1,000-store Dixons Group to distribute.

Napster U.K. has launched what it claims are Britain's first pre-paid cards for digital music. The initiative, announced today (Oct. 14), was arranged through an existing partnership with British electrical goods retailer Dixons Group.

The cards contain a unique code that can be redeemed for subscriptions or purchases of downloads from Napster's catalog. Roxio-owned Napster claims that more than 1 million titles are currently available on its British service.

The cards are available in three denominations. The cheapest, at £14.85 ($26.70), unlocks 15 tracks, while the £56.95 ($102.37) card buys 60 tracks. A three-month subscription option is available for £25.95 ($46.64).

Dixons stores began racking the cards yesterday; its affiliated retailers PC World, the Link and Currys will offer them starting in November. A subsequent rollout phase, expected to kick-off early in the new year, will see the cards made available through other leading British retailers.

With the approaching Christmas trading period in mind, Napster is predicting that the cards will see solid sales as gifts for customers who do not own credit cards. "By taking Napster into the High Street, we're making online music available to all consumers. We're hoping to capitalize in the next few months," Napster VP and U.K. GM Leanne Sharman tells Billboard.biz.

Sharman says the download service's U.S. affiliate achieved "overwhelming" results when it launched its own pre-paid card at North American retail outlets in the weeks ahead of the Christmas 2003 trading period.

The latest initiative is one of the fruits of an exclusive multi-year retail partnership forged by Napster and Dixons just days ahead of the download service's May 20 launch in Britain. Through the pact, Napster-branded products are distributed in Dixons' 1,000-plus retail outlets.