The devices will work like a top-up mobile phone card…

NAPSTER has launched the UK’s first ever pre-paid digital music cards for downloading tunes.

Working in a similar way to ones for pre-paid mobile phones, the cards, which can be bought from high street stores, will allow people to access music – offering anything from 15 tracks for £14.85 to 60 songs for £56.95.

One of the aims of the device is to allow online music to be purchased without using a credit card.

Leanne Sharman, Napster Vice President and UK General Manager, said: “It is aimed at stopping youngsters downloading illegally and it enables under-18s to access Napster easily. Napster is a paid legal service now. Now is the time for them to realise that they have got to go legal and this enables them to do that more easily.

She added: “It also stops them from downloading illegal services and stealing credit cards from their parents. It is a great gift. It is great if you don’t have a credit card and I think it is cool and easy to use.”

The move is likely to be a big boost to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) which announced last week it was to sue 28 net users it said were illegally swapping music online.

The pre-paid cards, which feature the familiar Napster cat logo with a scratch off surface concealing a PIN code, will allow music fans to access over one million tracks from Napster.

“We believe this is a great alternative to a record voucher. It has been introduced in the US and it really took off last Christmas over there. That is why we are launching them in time for Christmas this year,” Sharman said.

Similar services have been launched by Apple’s iTunes which offers tracks online through gift vouchers and OD2, which supplies songs to the likes of MTV, Virgin and HMV.

“It is similar. Basically the music is a good alternative to those services. The good thing about this is its easy. It can be dropped in an envelope as a present. I think that is the real bonus of it,” Sharman added.