After being bought out in October by eternal archrival Rhapsody, music subscription service “Napster” has shut down. Heading to Napster.com now gets you an explanation of what happened and a Rhapsody sales pitch.
I put “Napster” in quotation marks–a practice I’ve followed, albeit inconsistently, for years–because the “Napster” that just died wasn’t really Napster. Napster was the peer-to-peer music sharing service founded by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker in 1999. It changed the world, and was sued out of business.
“Napster,” on the other hand, was a commercial enterprise–formerly known as Pressplay–that acquired the Napster name. The folks who did the rebranding presumably thought they were pretty smart, but I always thought it was a mistake. If you loved the original Napster, you probably didn’t want to pay a monthly fee for music. If you did want to pay for music, the “Napster” name sounded slightly disreputable. Either way, it smacked of false advertising and congitive dissonance.
The fact that “Napster” petered out wasn’t shocking. Between Rhapsody, “Napster,” eMusic, Spotify, Rdio, Slacker, MOG, and Zune Pass–am I forgetting any?–there are a lot of subscription music services out there. Given that music with a monthly fee has never become a breakout hit, there may not be enough subscribers to go around. And for several years, “Napster” had felt like it was winding down rather than ramping up. (It was a latecomer to the iPhone, for instance.)
I like subscription music–I happily pay for Rdio–and would like to see it catch on. The fact that the major services are on a bevy of devices–computers, phones, tablets, TVs, and devices like Sonos–certainly makes them more appealing. Are you paying for subscription music, and if so, from which service?