Napster has finally succumbed to the batting of eyelashes and waving around of big bucks. The lucky suitor turns out to be Bertelsmann AG, the parent company of BMG Entertainment, one of the largest record labels in the world. Bertelsmann will become a part owner of Napster, drop its copyright infringement lawsuit against the company, and offer higher-quality music files by making BMG artists like Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews Band, Santana and Puff Daddy available through the service. The new version of Napster will be based on a membership model, with royalties paid to labels, artists, songwriters and music publishers.
At a Manhattan press conference held Tuesday afternoon to announce the alliance, Napster CEO Hank Barry said that he expects that they will charge a monthly membership fee of $4.95 for the service. There was no explanation on how exactly BMG's catalog will be made available through the service, but Barry emphasized that Napster will continue to allow users to trade music files that they created on their own from CDs. Bertelsmann CEO, Thomas Middelholf, urged other companies to join with them to form this new version of Napster ñ "We invite other record and publishing companies, artists and
other industry members to participate in the development of a secure and