Subscription music service Rhapsody has acquired Napster’s UK and Germany operations in a bid to expand to Europe and take on rival service Spotify.
Rhapsody, which lets users stream music from internet-connected devices, will retain all of Napster International’s employees and will operate under the Napster brand in the UK and Germany.
Napster’s subscribers will be migrated to Rhapsody’s infrastructure in March, which will give them new features such as improved speed and new web enhancements. It will maintain the music libraries that users have built.
The move marks the first steps that Rhapsody has taken into the European market. It was the first music subscription service, launching in the US in December 2001. It has more than 1m paying subscribers and more than 14m tracks on offer.
Napster was originally a peer-to-peer service which drew controversy and legal battles over music copyright. It then became an online music store and Rhapsody acquired its US operations in December 2011.
“The acquisition of Napster and its subscriber base in the UK and Germany gives us an ideal entry to the European market,” said Jon Irwin, president of Rhapsody.
“Through the benefit of scale, the strength of our editorial programming and strategic partnerships, we can now bring the Napster service to even more consumers on a variety of platforms.”
The acquisition will help Rhapsody compete with Spotify, a European-based music streaming service which recently launched its services in the US. Spotify also signed a content deal with Facebook to help turn Facebook user’s profiles into entertainment hubs.