Napster cuts music plan to $5 a month
In a move to better compete with rival iTunes, Napster.com on Monday cut the price of its online music streaming service to $5 a month from $12.95.
Napster CEO Chris Gorog said the new offering stands up well against iTunes because five songs a month will cost just $5, even if they are new releases. By comparison, Apple’s iTunes recently began charging up to $1.29 for newer, more popular tracks.
Napster also allows unlimited full-length song previews vs. iTunes’ 30-second samples.
Subscribers can also buy additional MP3-format songs priced from 69 cents to $1.29.
Gorog also said the company plans to offer a streaming service on mobile devices in the future.
Target pushes for healthier U.S.
MINNEAPOLIS Target has partnered with RedBrick Health to pilot a wellness program that includes advocates who are available to assist team members with all things related to health. In addition, Target has also become a founding member of the Alliance to Make U.S. Healthiest, a new coalition that strives to help U.S. citizens become more physically and emotionally healthy.
“We firmly believe that healthy team members create a more successful business and vibrant communities,” said Jodee Kozlak, Target’s EVP human resources. “We want all team members and their families to focus on prevention–the key to access and affordability.”
The company’s wellness program includes adopting specific cost containment measures and offer choices to that focus on prevention and wellness. In addition, Target said it supports a national framework for health care that allows multi-state employers to offer consistent and uniform benefits in a cost-effective manner.
Target announced support for national programs as well. As a member of the Alliance to Make U.S. Healthiest, the company will help create a national movement that promotes individual health and well-being throughout local communities. Additionally, Target has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create important, relevant health messages.
Comps guidance will be key
The first-quarter financial results Target is set to report tomorrow will be interesting, but the bigger story promises to be the company’s expectations for second-quarter same-store sales growth. The consumer spending environment remains very uncertain, and, although confidence has improved, shoppers remain very selective, and there really isn’t much data to suggest spending will improve anytime soon for home and apparel categories on which Target is highly dependent.
The uncertainty of the spending environment was highlighted last week when Wal-Mart reported first-quarter results and said it expected same-store sales at its U.S. stores to increase in a range of flat to 3%. That is an abnormally wide range of guidance, and it suggests that Wal-Mart, despite having unrivaled insight into the consumer spending climate afforded by its size, essentially has no idea what to expect in the second quarter. Target doesn’t enjoy the predictability of Wal-Mart’s massive food and consumables business so its ability to provide comps guidance is even more challenging. In addition, a major complicating factor in accurately forecasting second-quarter sales is the fact that retailers are cycling against the second quarter of 2008 when millions of Americans received, and promptly spent, economic stimulus checks distributed by the federal government.