MelodyVR to relaunch Napster as an immersive visual content & music streaming platform
UK virtual reality entertainment company MelodyVR is about to change its name to Napster – with plans to launch a combined immersive visual content and subscription music streaming platform later this year.
The news sent its shares soaring by 18.33%.
Napster, founded in 1999 in Seattle in a college dorm, was the original name in digital music disruption enabling sharing of music on the internet and widespread piracy.
When MelodyVR acquired Napster and its parent company Rhapsody International last August for US$70 million ($90.6 million), the long-term plan was always to merge their businesses.
The recording industry and its lawyers bankrupted Napster in 2002.
But a year after, it became a legitimate digital music platform under Roxio which successfully bid for its assets at a bankruptcy auction. It was later bought by US electronics retailer Best Buy.
On-demand streaming service Rhapsody became its owner in 2011 and adopted the brand name in 2016.
The name Napster is a far cry from the controversy and excitement it caused in its heyday and used by 57 million at its peak.
Today it is overshadowed by the likes of Spotify and YouTube. But figures from 2020 showed Napster was still alive and well.
It had a 126% rise in users to 5.7 million from 2019. It racked up a total of 10.5 billion plays and 306.5 minutes listening hours in 2020, versus 10.8 billion and 328.2 minutes the year before.
Anthony Matchett, group CEO, maintains: “This strong consumer appetite will continue into 2022 and the launch of our new product will benefit from consumer’s increased appetite for digital entertainment.”
Adopting the Napster name “will provide for greater global recognition of our business across both corporate and commercial channels”.
To fund the new platform, MelodyVR has raised investment of US$8.9 million ($11.5 million) from Swiss corporate finance firm Nice & Green, and Napster will be listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM (Alternative Investment Market) listing tomorrow (February 12).
Benoit Villers, managing partner of Nice & Green, called the upcoming platform “an ambitious, disruptive and ground-breaking project supported by a fantastic team”