Napster (pay service)

Last updated
Napster, Inc.
Industry Online Music
Founded 1999;19 years ago (1999) as free (and reconfigured as non-free by Roxio in 2003)
Headquarters Los Angeles, California, United States
Key people
Mike Davis, CEO [1]
Products Napster
Napster to Go
Napster MP3 Store
RevenueIncrease2.svg$111.08 million USD (FY 2007)
Decrease2.svg$36.83 million USD (FY 2007)
Number of employees
138 (2007)
Parent Rhapsody International Inc.

Napster was an online music store and a Rhapsody company, branded under the purchased name and trademarks of former free file sharing service Napster.

Online music store business selling music on the internet

An online music store is an online business which sells audio files over the Internet, usually sound recordings of music songs or classical pieces, in which the user pays on a per-song or subscription basis. It may be differentiated from music streaming services in that the online music store sells the purchaser the actual digital music file, while streaming services offer the patron partial or full listening without the actually owning the source file. However, online music stores generally offer partial streaming previews of songs, with some songs even available for full length listening. Online music stores typically show a picture of the album art or of the performer or band for each song. Some online music stores also sell recorded speech files, such as podcasts and video files of movies.

File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digital media, such as computer programs, multimedia, documents or electronic books. File sharing may be achieved in a number of ways. Common methods of storage, transmission and dispersion include manual sharing utilizing removable media, centralized servers on computer networks, World Wide Web-based hyperlinked documents, and the use of distributed peer-to-peer networking.

Napster is a set of three music-focused online services. It was founded as a pioneering peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing Internet service that emphasized sharing digital audio files, typically audio songs, encoded in MP3 format. The company ran into legal difficulties over copyright infringement. It ceased operations and was eventually acquired by Roxio. In its second incarnation, Napster became an online music store until it was acquired by Rhapsody from Best Buy on December 1, 2011.




Napster image.png

Napster 5.0 beta
Developer(s) Napster, Inc.
Stable release / August 31, 2010;7 years ago (2010-08-31)
Preview release
5.0 / 2012;6 years ago (2012)
Operating system Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Wii U
Type Media player
License DRM-free MP3, WMA

The company's name and logo originated from bankruptcy liquidation of the Napster peer-to-peer file trading service, [2] which was shut down after a series of legal actions taken by the RIAA. The brand name was later purchased by Roxio, to capitalize on the popularity of the former service. Napster was later acquired by Best Buy. The service merged with Rhapsody in 2011.

Peer-to-peer type of decentralized and distributed network architecture

Peer-to-peer (P2P) computing or networking is a distributed application architecture that partitions tasks or workloads between peers. Peers are equally privileged, equipotent participants in the application. They are said to form a peer-to-peer network of nodes.

Roxio former software company

Roxio, an American software company, specializes in developing consumer digital media products. Its product line includes tools for setting up digital media projects, media conversion software, and content distribution systems. The company formed as a spin-off of Adaptec's software division in 2001, and acquired MGI Software in 2002.

Best Buy Consumer electronics retailer

Best Buy Co., Inc. is an American multinational consumer electronics retailer headquartered in Richfield, Minnesota. It was originally founded by Richard M. Schulze and James Wheeler in 1966 as an audio specialty store called Sound of Music. In 1983, it was rebranded under its current name with more emphasis placed on consumer electronics.

As a Roxio subsidiary

Roxio bought the assets of the original Napster company at its bankruptcy auction in 2002 and the online music service called pressplay in 2003, with the intention of using these assets as the basis of a new legal online music service which would let users access music through a subscription or on a fee-per-song basis. Roxio spent years revamping the company as a non-free online music service. This involved a great deal of management re-organization and the start of a new business model. Roxio spent years developing a network of business partners and relationships to ensure success for their new enterprise. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

Bankruptcy legal status of a person or other entity that cannot repay the debts it owes to creditors

Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor.

Auction process of buying and selling goods or services by offering them up for bid, taking bids, and then selling the item to the highest bidder

An auction is a process of buying and selling goods or services by offering them up for bid, taking bids, and then selling the item to the highest bidder. The open ascending price auction is arguably the most common form of auction in use today. Participants bid openly against one another, with each subsequent bid required to be higher than the previous bid. An auctioneer may announce prices, bidders may call out their bids themselves, or bids may be submitted electronically with the highest current bid publicly displayed. In a Dutch auction, the auctioneer begins with a high asking price for some quantity of like items; the price is lowered until a participant is willing to accept the auctioneer's price for some quantity of the goods in the lot or until the seller's reserve price is met. While auctions are most associated in the public imagination with the sale of antiques, paintings, rare collectibles and expensive wines, auctions are also used for commodities, livestock, radio spectrum and used cars. In economic theory, an auction may refer to any mechanism or set of trading rules for exchange.

In May 2006, Napster launched Free Napster (via the URL but this service was discontinued in March 2010. It was a free, advertising-supported Web experience which enabled music fans in the USA to stream full-length versions of all the songs in Napster's catalog of over 8 million tracks three times each, without downloading any software or making any service commitment. Visitors could also purchase DRM-free MP3 downloads.

As a Best Buy company

Napster was formerly headed by Chris Gorog who served as Chairman and CEO, Bradford D. Duea who served as President and Christopher Allen who served as Chief Operating Officer. On January 6, 2010, Gorog and Duea stepped down from their positions. In an interview, Gorog stated that "After we understood the approach Best Buy was taking with Napster, it became clear the company didn't need a CEO, a president and a COO going forward". [16] Allen assumed the position of "General Manager," reporting to Chris Homeister, Best Buy's senior vice president of merchandising entertainment. [17] [18]

William Christopher “Chris” Gorog is an entertainment and technology executive that has served in senior leadership positions in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, including as chairman and chief executive officer of Napster, a top digital music brand, and Roxio.

Purchase by Rhapsody

The company was acquired by Rhapsody, another streaming and download service, in 2011. On July 14, 2016, Rhapsody formally changed its name to Napster, joining the 33 countries where it already operated as Napster to form one global brand. [19] [20]


Napster, the basic subscription tier, offers unlimited listening for $5–7 per month (£10 per month in the UK). USA members may also purchase DRM-free MP3 downloads at a discount. Napster also offers an MP3 store, a pay-per-track store which does not require a monthly subscription fee.

Napster To Go, the company's portable subscription tier, allowed unlimited transfer of music for $8–10 per month (£8 per month in the UK) This service was discontinued after the takeover by Rhapsody.

Napster's mobile music service Napster Mobile enables users to search and browse Napster’s music catalog and preview, purchase and play songs on their mobile handset through an integrated music player.

See also

Related Research Articles

FairPlay is a digital rights management (DRM) technology developed by Apple Inc. It is built into the MP4 multimedia file format as an encrypted AAC audio layer, and is used by the company to protect copyrighted works sold through iTunes Store, allowing only authorized devices to play the content.

Magnatune is an American independent record label based in Berkeley, California, founded in spring 2003. It only sold music for download through its website but added a print-CD-on-demand service in late 2004 and in October 2007 began selling complete albums and individual tracks through In May 2008, Magnatune launched all-you-can-eat membership plans. From March 2010 Magnatune dropped the CD printing service and moved exclusively to all-you-can-eat membership plans. Magnatune was the first record label to license music online and as of May 2015 had sold over 7,000 licenses in its twelve years of existence.

eMusic organization

eMusic is an online music and audiobook store that operates by subscription. In exchange for a monthly subscription eMusic users can download a fixed number of tracks to their MP3 players per month. eMusic was established in 1998, is headquartered in New York City with an office in London, and is owned by TriPlay.

PressPlay was the name of an online music store that operated from December 2001 until March 2003. It was created as a joint venture between Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment in response to the popularity of Napster.

Microsoft PlaysForSure

Microsoft PlaysForSure was a certification given by Microsoft to portable devices and content services that had been tested against several hundred compatibility and performance requirements. These requirements include codec support, Digital rights management support, UI responsiveness, device performance, compatibility with Windows Media Player, synchronization performance, and so on. PlaysForSure certification was available for portable media players, network-attached digital media receivers, and media-enabled mobile phones. The PlaysForSure logo was applied to device packaging as well as to online music stores and online video stores.

Napster, known as Rhapsody prior to June 14, 2016, is an online music store subscription service based in Seattle, Washington. On April 6, 2010, Rhapsody relaunched as a standalone company, separate from former parent RealNetworks. Downloaded files come with restrictions on their use, enforced by Helix, Rhapsody's version of digital rights management enforced on AAC+ or WMA files. In the past, the service also sold individual MP3s without digital rights management restrictions.

The open music model is an economic and technological framework for the recording industry based on research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It predicts that the playback of prerecorded music will be regarded as a service rather than as individually sold products, and that the only system for the digital distribution of music that will be viable against piracy is a subscription-based system supporting file sharing and free of digital rights management. The research also indicated that US$9 per month for unlimited use would be the market clearing price at that time, but recommended $5 per month as the long-term optimal price.

Yahoo! Music Unlimited was an on-demand online music service launched on May 10, 2005 and provided by Yahoo! Music. The service was discontinued on September 30, 2008.

MOG (online music) online music website

MOG was a paid subscription online music service and blog network, where subscribers could listen to and read about music. Subscribers could play tracks available in its catalog on a variety of digital devices, including computers, handheld devices, Sonos system and television. MOG also allowed users to access aggregated editorial content from music blogs, user posts, and in-house editors.

Zune is a discontinued media management software for Microsoft Windows that functions as a full media player application with a library, an interface to the Zune Marketplace, and as a media streaming server. The software is used to sync with all devices with Zune functionality including the Zune 4, 8, 16, 30, 80, 120, Zune HD, Windows Phone 7, and Microsoft Kin. Zune devices work exclusively with the Zune software, which applies many design principles of Microsoft's Metro design language.

Amazon Music Amazon.coms online music store

Amazon Music is a music streaming platform and online music store operated by Launched in public beta on September 25, 2007, in January 2008 it became the first music store to sell music without digital rights management (DRM) from the four major music labels, as well as many independents. All tracks were originally sold in 256 kilobits-per-second variable bitrate MP3 format without per-customer watermarking or DRM; however, some tracks are now watermarked. Licensing agreements with recording companies restrict which countries music can be sold.

inMusic was a Canadian music news portal and an online music store. The music store had over 2 million tracks in English and French from various genres. Samples of 30 seconds for each song were offered at no charge. Purchases and downloads could be transferred to a CD or compatible digital music device.

PlayNow was Sony Ericsson's download service for media that included music, games, ringtones, wallpapers and themes. It was introduced in February 2004 as a way for owners of SE phones to listen to and directly purchase ringtones. It was rolled out into 32 countries. The Sony Ericsson S700 was the first Sony Ericsson phone to come pre-loaded with PlayNow.

Streamwaves was an online music service founded by Jeff Tribble in 1999. Founded during file sharing service Napster's legal troubles, Streamwaves was the first company to license major label masters for a subscription service, and the first company to launch a subscription service with major label content in 2002. In 2005 Streamwaves became part of the Rhapsody Music Service owned by Real Networks.

RealNetworks company

RealNetworks, Inc. is a provider of Internet streaming media delivery software and services based in Seattle, Washington, United States. The company also provides subscription-based online entertainment services and mobile entertainment and messaging services.


MixRadio was an online music streaming service owned by Line Corporation. The service was first introduced by Nokia in 2011 as Nokia Music for Windows Phone, serving as a successor to Nokia's previous Nokia Music Store/Comes with Music/Ovi Music Store initiatives, which was based on the LoudEye/OD2 platform. After its acquisition of Nokia's mobile phone business, the service was briefly maintained by Microsoft Mobile Oy before it was sold to Korean internet company Line Corporation in 2015. Following the acquisition, MixRadio expanded to Android and iOS in May 2015.

Didiom was a digital media company that specialized in the development of streaming media applications and wireless content delivery platforms. Built on peer-to-peer placeshifting technology, the company's flagship product allowed customers to stream their home computer's audio collection to their phone wirelessly, eliminating the need for data cables and memory cards. With two million songs under its management, Didiom previously launched an on-device music store that allowed customers to name their own prices for music downloads. In February 2011, Didiom was acquired by SnapOne, Inc.


  1. Napster: Napster Management.
  2. "Porno company offers to buy Napster". CNET September 12, 2002.
  3. ^ Penn State and Napster team up to make legal tunes available to students Archived 2006-04-09 at the Wayback Machine .
  4. ^ FairUse4WM strips Windows Media DRM!
  5. ^ /How To Steal Music..... Sort Of
  6. ^ Audio extravaganza!
  7. ^ Do the Math advertisement
  8. ^ TMO reports
  9. ^ As of January 18, 2006. See press release
  10. ^ As of the 2006 fiscal year, the last year Real broke out dedicated Rhapsody subscriber numbers.
  11. ^ Vance, Ashlee (November 7, 2003). "Penn State students revolt against Napster, DRM invasion". The Register.
  12. ^ Napster, Inc (July 19, 2004). Global Napster Expands University Program with the Addition of Six Schools. Press Release.
  13. ^ Viega, Alex (January 25, 2006). "Napster denies rumors of trouble amid layoffs". San Jose Mercury News.
  14. ^ White, Michael (September 18, 2006). "Napster Hires UBS to Evaluate Possible Company Sale". Bloomberg.
  15. ^ Hessaldahl, Arik (September 19, 2006). "A Needy Napster Searches for Takers". Business Week.
  16. Q&A: Napster ex-CEO Chris Gorog by Antony Bruno, January 19, 2010
  17. Former Napster CEO’s “Dream” More of a Nightmare When You Really Think About It by John Paczkowski, January 6, 2010
  18. ^ Dignan, Larry (September 15, 2008). "Best Buy acquires Napster; Eyes digital music distribution".