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Rhapsody buys Napster from Best Buy

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 04 Oct 2011 14:50 User comments (6)

Rhapsody buys Napster from Best Buy Rhapsody is buying Napster from Best Buy. Details of the deal weren't disclosed, except that Best Buy will be getting a minority stake in Rhapsody.
Based on statements from Rhapsody executives, it appears this may mark the end of the Napster brand..

Rhapsody President Jon Irwin said:

This deal will further extend Rhapsody's lead over our competitors in the growing on-demand music market. There's substantial value in bringing Napster's subscribers and robust IP portfolio to Rhapsody as we execute on our strategy to expand our business via direct acquisition of members and distribution deals.


He added:

This is a 'go big or go home' business, so our focus is on sustainably growing the company. We're excited to welcome Napster music fans to the best on-demand music experience anywhere. Our new members will have more places to connect to the music they love and to discover new favorites, guided by Rhapsody's rockstar editorial team and the tastes of other Rhapsody members via our innovative social features.


The brand is really all that's left of the original Napster service, which brought file sharing to the masses in 1999 as broadband Internet was taking off.

Despite an investment of $80 million from a major record label, Bertelsmann Music Group, and plans to launch a legal subscription service, a lawsuit from the other major labels eventually brought Napster to its knees.

After a BMG attempt to buy Napster was rejected by a federal judge, the company folded in 2002, declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

They were eventually purchased by Roxio for just over $5 million as part of a plan to rebrand another failed music service originally launched by some of the same labels who brought down Napster.

In 2003, Roxio launched Napster 2.0, an iTunes-like service which offered DRM crippled downloads, and also a separate streaming service. After failing to live up to Roxio's high expectations of being an iTunes competitor, the company was purchased by Best Buy in 2008.

Their new owner, Rhapsody, was originally part of RealNetworks, but later spun off into a separate company owned by Real and Viacom's MTV Networks.

Despite being the biggest player in the US streaming market, competition from both download services like iTunes and Amazon MP3 and Internet radio services like Pandora has kept them from becoming more than a niche service.

Today Rhapsody faces more competition than ever. Earlier this year Spotify entered the US market after building a successful streaming business in Europe.

Additionally, cloud offerings from Amazon, Google, and now Apple are showing signs of being the next big thing. Even with Napster, Rhapsody's opportunities seem to be disappearing quickly.

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6 user comments

14.10.2011 16:46

Napster has been dead for a very long time. I just remember all the fun me and my roommates had finding new music which I still listen to

24.10.2011 17:00

I haven't been a Napster subscriber for a year or two, but when I had it, it was a pretty good service (and hackable so you could remove DRM from their tracks.) Rhapsody on the other hand has terrible to non-existent customer service and runs their brand on proprietary DRM'd Real Media. Awful in ever aspect.

35.10.2011 10:18

I've hit a point where I refuse all DRM content. If DRM is involved, I won't touch it, even in the game industry. These moves by EA and Sony to stop used games sales by requiring a $10 account to play or whatever are keeping me from spending hundreds on games I think look good and would otherwise get. Same thing for music from iTunes and the like and so on.

DRM f*cks the legitimate customer and should not be tolerated.


~*Livin' Electronicallly*~

45.10.2011 10:25

Originally posted by buxtahuda:
I've hit a point where I refuse all DRM content. If DRM is involved, I won't touch it, even in the game industry. These moves by EA and Sony to stop used games sales by requiring a $10 account to play or whatever are keeping me from spending hundreds on games I think look good and would otherwise get. Same thing for music from iTunes and the like and so on.

DRM f*cks the legitimate customer and should not be tolerated.
True, but iTunes is no longer shackled by DRM and they actually started offering higher bitrate files when they removed it. Though I'm less inclined to buy hundreds of dollars in digital music, I will spend $1 for a song I like versus $12-15 for a physical CD where that song is the only thing worth purchasing the disc for.

As for video games, I was extremely (insert expletive) that I activated my copy of Madden 12, only to find out I couldn't update the rosters unless I ALSO had an Xbox Live Gold account. Now that's complete BS. I don't have Gold because I'm lucky to turn on my console once or twice a week and play for an hour. Franchise mode lasts an actual season with me, but then they want to rope me into paying monthly? Sure, it's good for other stuff and other games, but I'm only playing Madden and I get Netflix on my Blu-Ray player, so there's no incentive for me other than the roster update. Thank God there are some smart folks on the web that found a way around that, using a USB flash drive. Shame on you EA.

55.10.2011 10:26

Another thing that was good with Napster is they had a streaming app for iPhone, so with a subscription, you had unlimited music at your fingertips without needing a larger capacity idevice.

627.1.2012 8:54
carolhall
Inactive

Originally posted by buxtahuda:
I've hit a point where I refuse all DRM content. If DRM is involved, I won't touch it, even in the game industry. These moves by EA and Sony to stop used games sales by requiring a $10 account to play or whatever are keeping me from spending hundreds on games I think look good and would otherwise get. Same thing for music from iTunes and the like and so on.

DRM f*cks the legitimate customer and should not be tolerated.
Could not agree more with you on this, drm really sucks and I can't wait for the day they're finally gonna get rid of it.

Although it's not a huge drawback, since as the guys round here mentioned there are some workarounds that let you enjoy your files hassle free, just as they should be in the first place.

Pretty sure good ole Tunebite is still fit for the job, worked just fine for Napster files and surely will work just as good to remove drm and convert Rhapsody music to drm-clean files.

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