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NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — Online music vendor Napster announced Wednesday that it will offer U.S. servicemembers discounted rates on its digital tracks and subscription service.

The company has struck a deal with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service that will give more than 11.5 million active, reserve and retired military personnel and their families access to 750,000 tracks at reduced prices.

“People are looking for a legal source for downloadable music,” said John McWhorter, AAFES general merchandiser manager, by telephone from Dallas. “And with our customer base, we have troops that are stationed all over the world in remote locations, this is just a good situation for us.”

Napster’s usual fee to download a single track is 99 cents, according to its Web site. Exchange customers can download a song for 88 cents each, an 11 percent discount, McWhorter said.

Napster’s fee to download an entire CD is about $9.95, but AAFES customers can grab an CD online for about $8.95, about 10 percent cheaper. For $8.95, servicemembers can get Napster’s subscription service, which normally costs $9.95, according to its Web site.

Customers can access Napster through www.CentricMall.com, a Web site with 40 online vendors available to authorized exchange customers. They can pay for the music through the Military Star Card credit card or other accepted credit cards.

AAFES began looking to team up with a music downloading service because customers had asked for it, McWhorter said. Digital MP3 players have become big sellers at AAFES stores worldwide.

Angela Terry, AAFES vice president for direct marketing, said offering music through the Internet will allow them to satisfy the music demands of overseas personnel or those deployed around the world.

“You know, we have a lot of different sized stores out there and they can’t always carry deep catalogues of music,” Terry said. “This provides us an alternative to providing that deep catalogue to our customers no matter where they are.”


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