XM Satellite Radio and Napster have unveiled a version of Napster’s digital music store and subscription service customized for XM subscribers. The design will give XM subscribers the ability to manage both their XM music and digital music files via a single interface.
Dubbed XM + Napster, the service is designed to work in conjunction with a new line of MP3 players XM is developing in partnership with Samsung Electronics. The MP3 players can access XM’s programming through a special docking station that receives the satellite feed, and can then store up to 50 hours of music for later listening, known as time shifting.
Users will be able to identify the specific songs from this time-shifted stream they wish to keep on the device, and delete the others. They can also add music files from their existing personal libraries to create customized playlists combining XM recorded tracks with their own music.
Tracks recorded from XM cannot be moved onto other devices, however, which is where the relationship with Napster comes in. When the device is connected to a PC, the XM + Napster service will match marked songs recorded via XM to Napster’s music catalog, and offer users the ability to either buy the track or save via the Napster To Go subscription service.
In addition, XM subscribers can access the XM Radio Online feed online, similar to how Napster users can access Internet radio stations now. This will allow them to immediately buy music discovered through XM Online programs via the Napster service, as well as create playlists culled from both XM streams and Napster’s library. Current Napster subscribers who want to add the XM stream to their online service will have to switch to the XM + Napster version, according to Napster.
Subscription and per-track downloads pricing has not yet been set. More details on both the service and the Samsung devices are expected this fall, with retail availability by the end of the year. XM also said that along with Samsung, it plans to work with other MP3 manufacturers.
“It’s a breakthrough,” XM spokesperson Chance Patterson told Billboard.biz. “It takes the effort out of finding new music. You can just push the button so you can keep it or buy it in a very convenient way.”
The deal also gives a potential marketing boost to Napster, which now has XM selling it’s digital music service to XM’s existing 4.5 million subscribers. Napster currently has about half a million subscribers.