The acquisition of Napster by MelodyVR would see the two platforms combine to create a music streaming and VR experience.
Today (25 August), London-based virtual reality (VR) start-up MelodyVR announced plans to acquire Rhapsody International – the company that owns digital music pioneer Napster.
RealNetworks-owned Rhapsody International acquired an 84pc stake Napster in 2011, buying it from Best Buy three years after the US consumer electronics retailer snapped up Napster for $121m.
Launched in 2018 by Anthony Matchett and Steven Hancock, MelodyVR is a licensed VR music platform that has secured partnerships with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Jay Z’s Roc Nation. It creates immersive music experiences that are available on smartphones and VR headsets.
In a deal worth $70m, the London-based company now plans to acquire Rhapsody International from RealNetworks. MelodyRV said that the deal will enable the creation of a “unique music platform” that will offer both immersive live performances and music streaming services.
Napster’s platform currently serves more than 3m users across four continents and delivers more than 90m licensed tracks to customers and B2B partners. In 2019, Napster’s revenue hit $113m and the company reported 10.8bn streams. The company now offers a $9.99 per month ad-free music streaming service for users.
For the time being, Napster and MelodyVR will continue to operate as independent businesses. However, MelodyVR said that the acquisition lays the foundations for a “one-of-a-kind, future platform of combined entertainment services”.
Matchett, who is CEO of the start-up, said that the acquisition will combine MelodyVR’s immersive visual content with music streaming.
“For music fans today, live and recorded music are intrinsically linked. We are as keen to see our favourite artists perform live as we are to listen to their albums,” he added.
“Our purchase of Napster, one of the music industry’s original disruptors, is born out of our wish to deliver the world’s foremost music experience, available seamlessly across audio and visual media and in turn presenting a truly next-generation music service.”
Napster’s CEO, Bill Patrizio, said: “This is a tremendous outcome for two organisations with complementary platforms and local audiences, and we could not be more excited to be moving forward as one company.
“The product, technology and cultural synergies of Napster and MelodyVR will bring tremendous innovation for music lovers, artists and the entire music industry. Good things come from being together and we look forward to creating a powerful platform that combines our strengths and offers and even wider range of content to consumers creators and advertisers.”