Napster has met its maker. The seminal peer-to-peer music sharing service has finally bowed out, as the company is officially merging with Rhapsody today, December 1, 2011. The news confirms an earlier report that claimed Rhapsody signed an agreement with Best Buy, Napster’s parent company.
Originally launched in 1999, Napster is most widely known for altering the way digital music is distributed. The peer-to-peer service, co-founded by the notorious Sean Parker, allowed millions of users across the globe to illegally download music. But as a result, numerous lawsuits from the Recording Industry Association of America followed and, only two years after its creation, the company was shut down.
However, Napster’s impact had already been made and, after ceasing operations, it was eventually acquired by Best Buy. Under the retailer’s auspices it operated as a digital music subscription service.
Following the P2P network’s initial demise, imitation services like Kazaa and LimeWire sprang up and quickly gained in popularity, proving that music lovers preferred downloading individual tracks rather than entire CDs. Eventually a business model was born, and the world was introduced to the now-common 99 cents-per-song model.
Streaming services like Rhapsody, now the leading on-demand music service in the US, also began to take shape. But because of increasing pressure from newcomers like Spotify, Rhapsody purchased Napster’s subscribers from Best Buy in an effort to boost its user base to stay competitive – a deal that is putting an end to a controversial but iconic era.
While Napster is gone in name, the company’s legacy will forever live on as more and more digital music services pop up.
Did you use Napster when it was first launched?