Hank Barry and Shawn Fanning claim fans are "demanding" to pay for the Napster service so as to compensate artists...

NAPSTER bosses have claimed that free file-sharing on the Internet will become a thing of the past after they become a subscription service in the summer.

Following the success of Napster, a myriad of other websites also started to offer free file-sharing via the Internet.

Speaking at a press conference earlier today (June 26), where Napster announced they had signed a deal with hundreds of independent European record labels (see earlier story), CEO Hank Barry said that fans were “demanding” to pay for the Napster service so as to compensate artists. He claimed that other, rival services would have to follow to remain competitive.

He said: “I think we’re now entering an era where all of these services or software programs will come to understand what their users want. And what their users want is to make sure that artists get paid. Yes they want access to the music, they want to be able to get something more than they get on the radio or MTV, they want access to the broad catalogue of music and not only are they willing to pay for it, they are demanding to pay for it.

“So I don’t think a service is going to be able to find acceptance in the marketplace that doesn’t provide for those functions, and I would say that we learnt that over the last two years that’s a very important part of what the user experience is. We think that everyone will go that way eventually.”

Napster founder Shawn Fanning agreed. He said: “My view is that artists should be paid. As a fan of music, although the notion of music being free is a nice idea I still want them to be able to create music and the artists I enjoy and love, I want to have a way to compensate those artists. I think if the price is right it should be possible for them to make music.”

As previously reported on NME.COM, Napster’s subscription service will start later this year. Barry said that signing today’s deal with the European independent labels is an “important step” for legitimising the service.

He commented: “This is a really important day for Napster. It’s particularly fitting that members of the independent community who are renowned as trailblazers and trendsetters have recognised the value of Napster.

Shawn Fanning, who was making his first visit to the UK, added: “Napster is also a system that provides a unique and unparalleled means for artists to communicate with their fans. It provides an important vehicle for all artists, especially those who would might be played on the radio or have their videos aired on MTV to reach audiences.

“I’m very happy that the independent labels in Europe and the UK are agreeing. As a personal fan of many of the artists whose labels are represented here today I’m thrilled that the Napster community will be able to share and access such music”