Napster (streaming service)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

PredecessorNapster (pay service)
FoundedDecember 3, 2001; 22 years ago (2001-12-03) (as
FounderRob Reid
Seattle, Washington
United States
Area served
33 countries[1]
    • United States
    • Andorra
    • Argentina
    • Austria
    • Brazil
    • Canada
    • Chile
    • Colombia
    • Costa Rica
    • Denmark
    • Ecuador
    • El Salvador
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Guatemala
    • Ireland
    • Italy
    • Luxembourg
    • Mexico
    • Monaco
    • Netherlands
    • Nicaragua
    • Norway
    • Panama
    • Peru
    • Portugal
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • United Kingdom
    • Uruguay
Key people
Jon Vlassopulos (CEO)
BrandsNapster (2001–2003)
RealNetworks (2003–2010)
Rhapsody International, Inc. (2010–2020)
Napster Group PLC (2020–2022)[2]
Hivemind & Algorand (2022–present)

Napster[3][4] is a music streaming service based in Seattle, Washington, United States. Until 2016, the service was known domestically as Rhapsody before rebranding as Napster, the same name brand that was used by Roxio's Napster.[5]

Napster started as an audio search engine named Aladdin that was purchased by in May 2001 and became the basis for its new streaming service, called Rhapsody, that launched in December of the same year. Based on the Open Music Model principles, Rhapsody was the first streaming on-demand music subscription service to offer unlimited access to a large library of digital music for a flat monthly fee. In August 2003, internet media behemoth RealNetworks, anticipating the launch of Apple's iTunes Store, acquired Rhapsody. On April 6, 2010, Rhapsody relaunched as a standalone company, separate from former parent RealNetworks.[6] On August 25, 2020, Rhapsody International and the Napster name were sold to virtual reality concerts company MelodyVR for $70 million, which renamed itself Napster Group PLC following the takeover.[2][7][8] On May 10, 2022, Napster was sold to Hivemind and Algorand.


Early days[edit]

In 1999, Tim Bratton, J.P. Lester, Sylvain Rebaud, Alexandre Brouaux, Nick Sincaglia and Dave Lampton were working on a new streaming audio engine. This engine was commercially deployed in the customized radio service, and was also used in their "celestial jukebox" prototype, called Aladdin.


In April 2001, was acquired by,[9] a startup founded in San Francisco by author and entrepreneur Rob Reid, that had built a large online music directory. Aladdin was transformed into the Rhapsody music service during the summer and fall of 2001 and was launched on December 3, 2001.[10]

Rhapsody was the first streaming on-demand music subscription service to offer unlimited access to a large library of digital music for a flat monthly fee,[11] a concept advocated by business theories such as the Open Music Model. At launch, Rhapsody's library was formed of content mostly from Naxos Records and several independent labels. Over the next several months of 2002, they secured licenses from EMI, BMG, Warner Bros. Records, and Sony to add their music to the service. In July 2002, Rhapsody added Universal Records to their catalog, signing the last of the five major record labels of the time.

RealNetworks announced plans to acquire on April 21, 2003, one week before the launch of the iTunes Music Store on April 28, 2003. The transaction closed on August 3, 2003. The Rhapsody service was briefly known as RealRhapsody shortly after the acquisition, but was since shortened back to "Rhapsody".

By 2004, some blogs providing sharing of playlists with comments, with names such as "Rhapsody Radish".[12][13][14] In late 2007, Music On the Go (MOG) partnered with Rhapsody to allow Rhapsody subscribers to access all of Rhapsody's content through MOG.[15] In August 2007, RealNetworks formed a joint venture with Paramount's music broadcast network MTV named Rhapsody America. The underpinning software running the service would come from MTV's Urge, a discontinued music service MTV developed in partnership with Microsoft.[16]


In February 2010, RealNetworks announced their intention to restructure Rhapsody into a fully independent business. Recent problems with the online music subscription service prompted the CEO to make "crucial decisions and think some things through". During this period, dropping the subscription service was considered, but he felt it wasn't the right decision at the time. Instead, the whole Rhapsody team thought of ways to revamp the struggling company and in turn dropped RealNetworks as parent of the company. This was a very risky decision, as the company needed the support, but gained the support of MTV Networks and Viacom, and other independent companies. Since independence, Rhapsody has started the revamping process with a new logo and subscription price changes.[17]

Rhapsody logo between 2010—2016, now used as a corporate identity

As of January 2011, Rhapsody president Jon Irwin told Reuters the on-demand subscription music service had more than 750,000 subscribers, having added more than 100,000 since becoming an independent company.[18] At that date Rhapsody had a catalog of 11,000,000 songs.[19]

On August 3, 2011, Rhapsody announced that from two months they would no longer re-license DRMed music bought before three years.[20]

On October 3, 2011, Rhapsody announced plans to acquire Napster with the deal to be completed by November.[21]

On May 6, 2014, Rhapsody announced its parent company made its first outside investment and led a Series B round for Dubset Media, the operator of streaming music site Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

On April 21, 2016, Rhapsody named its first CEO, Mike Davis.[22] Davis is the first CEO of Rhapsody International, which is the parent company to both Rhapsody and Napster.

Napster rebranding[edit]

On July 14, 2016, Rhapsody phased out the Rhapsody brand in favor of Napster and has since branded its service internationally as Napster.[23]

Acquisition by MelodyVR[edit]

On August 25, 2020, Napster was sold to virtual reality concerts company MelodyVR.[24]

Acquisition by Algorand[edit]

On May 10, 2022, Napster was sold to the blockchain company Algorand and the crypto-focused investment firm Hivemind. Following the sale, Emmy Lovell was announced as CEO of Napster.[25][26]

On June 8, 2022, Napster released a new version of its music streaming app with refreshed branding.[27]

On March 9, 2023, the UK trading entity Napster Music Limited entered liquidation following a winding up notice from HMRC [28]

Rhapsody MP3[edit]

In addition to its subscription service, Rhapsody used to sell 256 kbit/s constant bit rate MP3s individually, Rhapsody has since canceled the sales of downloadable songs to focus on its core streaming service.

Rhapsody software[edit]

The Rhapsody Music Software, was a free program to help organize music collections, and synchronize them in MP3 portable media players (PMP) with the Rhapsody subscription service. It competed with Apple Inc.'s iTunes software. As of September 2013, the latest version of the software is Rhapsody 4.  Rhapsody 5 was delayed because the Rhapsody product team felt the company's future success would be in mobile apps[citation needed] and started working on apps for iOS (iPhone), Android, BlackBerry OS, and Verizon Wireless's app store, all of which were deployed as of 2011. Following the launch of the mobile apps Rhapsody Music Software was discontinued.


As of 2012, downloaded files come with restrictions on their use, enforced by Helix, Rhapsody's version of digital rights management enforced on AAC+ or WMA files.[29][30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Napster: Music from Every Angle".
  2. ^ a b Graham, Peter (February 10, 2020). "MelodyVR to Rebrand as Napster, new App Coming Q4 2021". GMW3.
  3. ^ Popper, Ben (2016-06-14). "Rhapsody rebrands itself as Napster because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯: Sounds of the undead". The Verge. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  4. ^ Napster Team (2016-06-14). "Rhapsody is Becoming Napster". Napster Music News. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  5. ^ Popper, Ben (2016-06-14). "Rhapsody rebrands itself as Napster because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯". The Verge. Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  6. ^ "Rhapsody Announces Declaration From Parent Company RealNetworks". Rhapsody America LLC. 2010-04-06. Archived from the original on 2010-04-09. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
  7. ^ Schneider, Marc (25 August 2020). "Napster Sold to Virtual Reality Concert App MelodyVR for $70 Million".
  8. ^ Fildes, Nic (25 August 2020). "Napster sold for a song to UK virtual events company". Financial Times. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  9. ^ " Buys". Adweek. 2001-05-01. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  10. ^ "Music firms open online services, but will fans pay?". San Francisco Chronicle. 2001-12-03. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  11. ^ "Industry starting to endorse Net music / to offer songs from all five major labels". San Francisco Chronicle. 2002-07-01. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  12. ^ "Rhapsody Blogs Make Subscribing More Fun". GiantPath. January 18, 2005. Archived from the original on February 8, 2005. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  13. ^ "Welcome to The Rhapsody Radish". ScoreCreep. Archived from the original on August 18, 2004. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  14. ^ "The Rhapsody Radish – Music Playlist Archive". Archived from the original on February 2, 2007. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  15. ^ McCarthy, Caroline (11 December 2007). "Rhapsody harmonizes with music blog network". CNET. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  16. ^ Van Buskirk, Eliot (Aug 21, 2007). "Rhapsody, MTV Form Joint Digital Music Venture". Wired. Condé Nast Publications.
  17. ^ Kathy Shwiff (2010-02-09). "RealNetworks, Viacom to Spin Off Rhapsody". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
  18. ^ "Rhapsody's added 100,000 new subscribers since April". Reuters. January 20, 2011. Archived from the original on January 23, 2011.
  19. ^ "Rhapsody About Us".
  20. ^ "Message from your ebook retailer, from the future".
  21. ^ Donald Melanson (October 3, 2011). "Rhapsody announces plans to acquire Napster". Engadget. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  22. ^ "Rhapsody International Names Mike Davis as CEO".
  23. ^ "We Are Napster". Napster Team. July 14, 2016.
  24. ^ "MelodyVR raises $8.9m, prepares to rebrand as the Napster Group". Music Business Worldwide. 2021-02-09. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  25. ^ "Hivemind and Algorand buy Napster "to once again revolutionise the music industry"". MusicTech. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  26. ^ Vincent, James (2022-05-18). "Napster joins Limewire and Winamp by jumping on the web3 bandwagon". The Verge. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  27. ^ "Napster: Music From Every Angle". United States. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  28. ^ (2023-03-09). "Napster Music Creditors Voluntary Liquidation".
  29. ^ "Can I buy, download, burn, or transfer this track?". Rhapsody International Inc. Archived from the original on 2012-07-14.
  30. ^ "File format and bitrate of Rhapsody streams". Rhapsody International Inc.