Five months after announcing that it raised “eight figures” in financing as it doubles down on the Web3 space, Napster says it has acquired Mint Songs, an NFT marketplace that helps music artists build Web3 communities.
Napster, which describes itself as “the original music disruptor and longest-running independent music streaming service in the world,” hired former Roblox Global Head of Music Jon Vlassopulos as its new CEO in September 2022.
Vlassopulos, who was appointed to guide the company in its Web3 ambitions, told MBW at the time that Napster plans “to use the same Metaverse playbook that we created [at Roblox] and work with the same players to create new mainstream lighthouse examples that the Web3 music industry can adopt and follow.”
Most recently, Napster disclosed on Wednesday (February 15) that it has acquired Mint Songs to be used as the foundation for Napster’s Web3 offerings. The acquisition is the first deal carried out by the newly created Napster Ventures, which was unveiled at the time of Vlassopulos’ appoIntment.
Napster Ventures will focus on fostering, investing in, and acquiring “the best Web3 music startups,” Napster says, as it aims to accelerate its Web3 feature rollout plans.
The acquisition follows Mint Songs’ $4.3 million fundraising from investors including Freestyle Capital and Castle Island Ventures. Mint Songs previously worked with Web3 artists like Gramatik, Mark de Clive-Lowe, and Black Dave to offer exclusive NFT items.
In addition to helping artists build Web3 communities, Mint Songs — as the name implies — also assists artists in minting NFTs and providing exclusive art for their fans to own and trade.
The company builds tools that allow artists to turn their creative assets into NFTs to sell or give away to their community. The platform is built on Polygon, making NFTs on the platform carbon-neutral at zero cost.
“As we looked for a partner that could take what we’ve built over the last two years and give artists a true marketplace for their assets where millions of fans are already active, it became abundantly clear that Jon and Napster have the vision to finally take Web3 Music to the mainstream.”
Garrett Hughes, Mint Songs
Following Napster’s purchase of Mint Songs, the latter’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Garrett Hughes, will stay on in an advisory role. He will work closely with Vlassopulos in integrating Mint Songs’ technology into the Napster platform.
“As we looked for a partner that could take what we’ve built over the last two years and give artists a true marketplace for their assets where millions of fans are already active, it became abundantly clear that Jon and Napster have the vision to finally take Web3 Music to the mainstream,” said Hughes.
“Our goal all along has been to create deep, engaging, and innovative ways for artists to connect with fans that also offer them an opportunity to monetize that fandom. Conversely, we see a demand from fans for a music service to offer more than just on-demand music and podcasts, which makes Napster’s ambitious goals all the more attractive,” Hughes added.
Mint Songs’ former head of product, Nate Pham, will also join Napster to lead the group’s Web3 product initiatives. Before joining Mint Songs, Pham held senior product roles at Pandora and UnitedMasters.
“Garrett and [the Mint Songs] team have done groundbreaking work helping thousands of artists get their start in Web3, reach their fans in new creative ways through collectibles, and unlock significant new revenue streams.”
Jon Vlassopulos, Napster
“Garrett and [the Mint Songs] team have done groundbreaking work helping thousands of artists get their start in Web3, reach their fans in new creative ways through collectibles, and unlock significant new revenue streams,” said Vlassopulos.
“We are in an unprecedented era of innovation in the digital music space and it feels like there have been more music startups formed in the last two to three years than in the previous 20. It’s inspiring to see so many talented teams pushing to create a music ecosystem that is better for artists and fans and we are delighted to welcome one of the most impressive Web3 music startups, Mint Songs, as the newest member of the Napster family.”
For Napster, its Web3 foray marks another venture for the two-decade-old company that has operated under different guises. Launched as a peer-to-peer digital audio-sharing application, Napster is now sharpening its focus on Web3 opportunities.
At the time of his appointment, Vlassopulos said this is just “the beginning of a massive multi-billion dollar market, so we’re not ruling out the possibility of raising a much larger round in 2023 to fuel our growth and finance acquisitions to maintain a leadership position in this space”.
“We are excited for Napster to be a central player in the music Web3 ecosystem and acquiring Mint Songs is a great foundational step,” said Matt Zhang, Founder and Managing Partner of Hivemind, who led an investor consortium to acquire Napster last year.
“The combination of Napster’s continued innovation that powers the platform currently along with Mint Songs’ technology IP and expertise, will help drive Web3 innovation for the music industry,” added Zhang.
Outside the music industry, Napster continues to partner with brands including SFR, Telefonica, Sonos, Audacy, Univision, Aldi, Vivo, Rakuten, Huawei, RecoChoku, and more.
Music Business Worldwide