XM and Napster Beta-Test Music Service

The two companies have launched a preview version of their joint music service that allows XM Satellite Radio customers to download and purchase music from Napster's digital audio libraries.

XM Satellite Radio and music download provider Napster launched a preview of their jointly operated service on Tuesday, promising new audio delivery options to existing satellite radio subscribers.

The beta version of the offering, dubbed as XM + Napster, seeks to market Napsters array of digital music download services to XM customers in an effort to expand the range of features that the satellite company can offer its subscribers.

Through the venture, XM customers will be able to search, download and purchase music available in Napsters online libraries for 99 cents per track, or access the content via one of the companys subscription download packages. The tie-in will also offer XMs 5 million existing customers the ability to transfer their music onto portable MP3 players supported by Napsters services.

With the launch of the beta, which was first announced in July, Napster becomes the exclusive music download service for XM subscribers as part of what the companies have labeled as a long-term strategic partnership. Heralded on its homepage as "Math for the Music Revolution," the XM + Napster relationship illustrates a growing effort on the part of content service providers to partner in the name of offering as many different delivery channels to consumers as possible.

If the companies plan works out, the service will increase both companies prospects in the rapidly evolving music download market by giving XM the ability to offer customers the same types of capabilities available via Apple Computer Inc.s popular iTunes service, and providing Napster with a new audience of potential customers who might see the XM angle as reason enough to choose it over rival download services.

/zimages/6/28571.gifApple signs deal to keep the flash memory coming for its iPods. Click here to read more.

Company representatives had no comment on when the final version of the XM + Napster service will be officially introduced.

As part of the service, XM customers will be offered the chance to download songs as they are played over one of the satellite companys 70 stations, essentially giving listeners the ability to pick and choose tracks to keep as they hear them on the radio.

In addition, the companies will offer a portal site that features additional information on music artists and suggested content from various DJs. The service will also allow XM subscribers create play lists of music tracks saved on their computers, or for their mobile devices using the companys Napster Light software.

/zimages/6/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on image editing and Web publishing tools.