“We carried out market research among 20,000 Napster users. The willingness to pay is given,”the head of the Germany media company said during the World Economic Forum in Davos Bertelsmann, parent of the BMG music unit, signed a watershed cooperation deal with Napster inOctober. It’s trying to bring the Internet music site together with other players in the industry inan effort to legitimatize the popular Web site.

Earlier this month, independent record label TVT Records announced it was dropping its lawsuitagainst Napster, becoming the second such record label to do so after Bertelsmann itself.

However, much of the world’s recording industry remains at loggerheads with Napster, a Website that allows registered users to swap music files free of charge.

The industry says the Napster model is a breach of copyright and results in a loss of royalties forthe artists and the recording companies.

By changing to subscriptions, however, Napster runs the risk of losing its users to other onlinecompanies that continue to provide music exchange at no charge.

Napster is in talks to enlist other record companies, including the four other majors Sony, EMIGroup, Warner Music and Universal.

The Redwood, Calif.-based Napster claims millions of users, including 1.6 million users onlineat any one time.

Analyst Eric Scheirer of Cambridge, Mass.- based Forrester Research said the plan had potential,but a few things need to be worked out first.

“There are people that are ready to pay out there,” Scheirer said. However, he said Bertelsmannwould need to offer more than simply BMG artist content to convert Napster users to a paidservice solution. Titles from all labels would need to be included among the selections to makethe endeavor a success.

“Music fans really want the opportunity to choose from the entire body of recorded music,”Scheirer said. “If we want to raise the price we’re going to have to raise the opportunity.” A Napster spokeswoman said the company has not set a definitive date for beginning to offer thenew membership-based service.