It turned the music industry upside down when launching as a peer-to-peer music file sharing service in 1999, and now Napster is back as a legitimate offering.
After operating under the name of Rhapsody in the US since merging with the service in 2011, Rhapsody is now becoming Napster worldwide.
It will offer the same music, same service and same price, with no changes to user’s playlists, favourites, albums and artists.
However, the rebranding coincides with some lay-offs at the company.
“As part of our plan to better position Rhapsody/Napster for long-term profitability and accelerated growth in a competitive global market, we have a new, streamlined structure for the company that unfortunately impacts a number of positions across our global offices. We will handle the process with the deepest respect and gratitude for all affected individuals.
“The difficult actions we are taking now will create operational efficiency and position Rhapsody/Napster for growth while further expanding our global partnerships, which last year contributed to a 35 percent increase in paid subscribers. We’re proud of the product innovations we’ve introduced that connect music fans with each other to discover new music they love, and look forward to continuing to create experiences and partnerships that increase the amount of music people emotionally connect and listen to around the world.”
In April, Rhapsody International introduced the Listener Network – essentially a social media sub-platform based on how compatible your music tastes are to other people.
However, while the service is still innovating, its business isn’t faring too well. In the 12 months to end of December 2015, Rhapsody shareholder RealNetworks revealed that it lost $35.5m, which works out at approximately $3m a month.
The company currently boasts around 3.5m paying subscribers worldwide.Music Business Worldwide