Business News Deals Digital

MelodyVR buys Napster

By | Published on Tuesday 25 August 2020


You all remember Napster, right? No, not that Napster. We all remember that Napster. Who could forget that Napster? “The live industry is facing it’s Napster moment”, they now say. And that only makes sense if you remember Napster. The other Napster. The original Napster.

But we’re not talking about that Napster here. We’re talking about the legal digital music service that was launched using the Napster brand after the original Napster file-sharing company went bankrupt. Because everyone knew Napster. The original Napster. So how clever would it be to acquire that brand through the bankruptcy process and use it for a licensed digital music service?

Not that clever as it turns out. After becoming the download service everyone forgot about during the iTunes era, Napster morphed itself into the streaming service everyone forgot about during the Spotify era. But everyone still remembers the original Napster, don’t they?

Following a stint being owned by American retailer Best Buy, the legal Napster was acquired by Rhapsody International – a company that had spun off from Real Networks – and then merged with that firm’s US-only streaming set up Rhapsody.

After that, the US-only Rhapsody brand was phased out, on the assumption that it would be cleverer to employ the globally known Napster brand in all markets. How clever! Or not. Because by that point, while everyone knew Napster, what they knew was that Napster, not this Napster.

But still, even though you forgot about this Napster, rather than that Napster, it still exists as a streaming service of the Spotify model. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Rhapsody International started to increasingly reposition itself and Napster as business-to-business platform to be used by other media and tech companies who wanted to operate a subscription streaming service.

Which brings us to now, and the somewhat surprise news that UK-based music-centric virtual reality firm MelodyVR has bought the Rhapsody International company and its Napster streaming service and brand. Why? Fuck knows. Actually, I know. MelodyVR plans to bring Napster’s music catalogue into its own app, thus expanding its consumer offering beyond live music VR experiences.

“The pairing of the two companies represents the pioneers of music streaming and live music VR coming together under one roof”, MelodyVR said in a statement today. “It’s incredibly exciting to be unifying complementary platforms and fantastic audiences, rooted in a love of music and a deep desire to offer the very best experience to artists, fans, the wider music community and brands”.

On logistical matters, the company’s statement went on: “For the time being, Napster and MelodyVR will continue to operate as independent businesses. But we’re laying the groundwork for a one-of-a-kind, future platform of combined entertainment services, which is built on the understanding that live music and recorded music are equally as loved and important – and that we will be the destination for both”.

MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett then stated: “MelodyVR’s acquisition of Napster will result in the development of the first ever music entertainment platform which combines immersive visual content and music streaming”.

“For music fans today”, he continued, “live and recorded music are intrinsically linked. We are as keen to see our favourite artists perform live as we are to listen to their albums. Our purchase of Napster, one of the music industry’s original disruptors, is born out of our wish to deliver the world’s foremost music experience, available seamlessly across audio and visual media and in turn presenting a truly next-generation music service”.

Yeah maybe. But hey, whatever, this acquisition means you now remember Napster. Not that Napster. We all remember that Napster. But the other Napster. What other Napster? You now, the one that got bought by MelodyVR. Oh yes, that Napster!