Napster music download service to be relaunched in UK

27/01/12

Napster website

Napster is to be relaunched in the UK after being bought by US firm Rhapsody.

Its new owner, America's biggest music subscription service, is revamping the company's offering to take on the likes of Spotify, We7 and Deezer.

"The acquisition of Napster and its subscriber base in the UK gives us an ideal entry to the European market," said Rhapsody president, Jon Irwin.

"We can now bring the Napster service to even more consumers on a variety of platforms."

'New features'

Napster was shut down for the second time in its history last year in America after it was acquired by Rhapsody.

The firm says all Napster International employees in the UK and Germany, where it is also being relaunched, will keep their jobs.

Combining Napster International subscribers with Rhapsody's massive base in the US will further strengthen our position as the leading music subscription service
Thorsten Schliesche
General manager of Napster International

Existing subscribers will be moved over to Rhapsody's database in March.

Users are being promised new features, including better mobile apps, improved speed and offline playback quality plus easier management of playlists.

Thorsten Schliesche, general manager of Napster International, said: "We have always been and will continue to be committed to offering music fans the most flexible, comfortable way to consume and discover music - wherever and whenever they want.

"The acquisition is another important milestone.

"Combining Napster International subscribers with Rhapsody's massive base in the US will further strengthen our position as the leading music subscription service."

Streaming services

Napster was originally launched in 1991 as a file-sharing website.

It was set up by 19-year-old Shawn Fanning with help from Sean Parker, who was played in The Social Network by Justin Timberlake.

The site was forced to shut down in 2001 after a high-profile court case in America brought by several of the country's largest record companies who alleged their copyright was being infringed.

Shawn Fanning
Image caption Shawn Fanning set up Napster as a file-sharing site with Sean Parker

Rapper Dr. Dre and thrash band Metallica also sued the firm.

It was bought by US software company Roxio at an auction in 2002, who sold it on to electronics retailer Best Buy in 2008.

Meanwhile, music streaming service Spotify has announced that is now has three million subscribers.

The Anglo-Swedish firm says 20% of those are paying customers.

Despite that success, Coldplay's new album Mylo Xyloto is still not available on the service.

The band's management said they were worried about the impact on album sales in digital download stores.

Speaking at the launch of IFPI's Digital Music Report in London, president of Universal Music Group's global digital business sector Rob Wells said artists shouldn't be worried.

He told delegates that their own research involving four groups had shown that record sales were not being affected negatively by streaming services.