Napster returns to free music with ad-supported site

Facing Apple’s increasing dominance in the digital music world, Napster has shifted to an advertising-supported model that allows visitors to its website to listen to any of the 2 million songs in its catalog for free. But unlike the original Napster, which famously offered unauthorized song downloads, visitors can currently only listen to a song five times—after that, the track must be purchased for 99 cents or visitors must sign up for a subscription plan ($10-$15/month).

“Napster clearly had to find something different,” says American Technology Research analyst P.J. McNealy.

“But until the device market for non-iPods picks up, Napster faces an uphill battle.”