Online music provider Napster was made famous for offering free music downloads. Back in the 1990’s that philopsophy was their undoing. Today Napster is back with a new legal way to listen to music for free without any contracts or other obligations. Music lovers can browse through their library of millions of tracks from every genre and listen to the complete song just by clicking on a link. You can use these links to allow others to instantly access the same music that you were just listening to by posting them in your blog, on your web site, or in an email message. What’s the catch? You can only listed to a song five times before you have to buy it and without paying a subscription or buying the track you only get access to the low-fidelity version. Still, the service provides the complete track for most songs, not just the thirty second snippet that you get from most sites.

For music teachers and others that just like to browse this new feature could be a great curriculum resource ( www. musicedmagic. com/curriculum/bringing-listening-back-to-the-band-room. html ). In the music classroom a teacher might want to play part of a Beethoven sonata ( play. napster. com/track/13954030 ) or another piece that the school does not own in their local music library. Instead of shelling out fifteen or twenty bucks for a complete CD the teacher can go to Napster, use their free plays to show the song in class, and if in the end you decide you simply have to own the track anyway for future use you can buy it online and download the complete HIGH-fidelity file to your computer for only ninety-nine cents. Once downloaded you turn around and burn these tracks to a CD for use in any CD player in any classroom.

For the music lover or an online author these new Napster links are a great way to add easy and useful content to whatever you are trying to share. In fact, that is exactly what the folks at Napster want you to do! Link away! Like a new song off of Korn’s newest CD? Link to it! For all of Napster’s bad press many years ago they have finally come out with something that even their biggest skeptics cannot deny. The new free music service is a great and long overdue idea that will be great for sharing musical information across the Internet.