Tag Archives: Sean Parker

Rhapsody Buys, Extinguishes Napster

Rhapsody will acquire Napster from Best Buy and perhaps that will – once and for all – kill off the most notorious company name in online music. I for one am glad to see it go. Napster was launched in 1999 by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker to promote illegal online sharing of music in the form of mp3’s. It was shut down in 2001, declared bankruptcy in 2002, was reborn as a commercial venture in 2003 and purchased by Best Buy in 2008. I always thought that was one of the worst decisions to buy a brand that a company ever made.

Now Rhapsody, in an effort to stay alive and compete with newer on-demand services like Spotify, will migrate Napster subscribers over to the Rhapsody platform where they will enjoy subscription based on-demand streaming, along with the ability to build playlists for offline listening, a feature that Rhapsody introduced earlier this year. Reportedly, Napster subscribers who were paying a cheaper, $5 a month fee will have to upgrade to Rhapsody’s $10 a month subscriber fee.

Rhapsody has 800,000 subscribers, about 15 million songs, and has been in business for about ten years. While they’re not huge, they are the largest on-demand subscription service. Best Buy paid $122 million for Napster in 2008 and will get a minority stake in Rhapsody in the transaction.

Napster openly and defiantly promoted illegal music sharing and caused a lot of animosity between labels and services, not to mention contributing to the “music is free on the Internet” mentality that is still pervasive today. There’s a real satisfaction in seeing one of the oldest names in online music finally put the brazen bull that caused so much damage out to pasture..

Spotify’s Bad Idea

Spotify, the hugely popular European on-demand streaming service that has yet to launch in the US has Sean Parker as a new investor. The notorious founder of Napster (the illegal one). Parker – the guy brought to life on the big screen by Justin Timberlake in the movie The Social Network – is out to finish what he started with Napster, and ‘fix what he broke’.

Until I heard this I was actually betting on Spotify. But Sean Parker is probably the single worst thing that ever happened to digital music. I think they have misjudged the US market. They’re in negotiations with the record labels, and have had to push back their US launch several times because they can’t get a deal, and now they’re letting Parker talk for them?

If Parker didn’t actually create music piracy, he certainly made it popular and famous.

If you want to get a taste of what an appealing spokesperson Sean Parker makes for Spotify, take a look at this video. In it, he discusses the war on piracy as a failure, and explains why Spotify’s on-demand subscription service will succeed. And I ask you, would you buy anything from him?

What on earth is Spotify thinking?

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