Dead at 13: Napster 1998-2011
P2P pioneer, later online music shop, closed in US
So, farewell then, Napster.
The company founded by Shawn Fanning - who named it after his close-crop haircut, apparently - when his peer-to-peer file-sharing app of the same name took off, is no more.
The firm that now owns it, Rhapsody, will fold the online music shop that Napster became into its own store, in the US at least.
Napster the software debuted in 1998, but was jumped upon by the music industry - in particular by its militant wing, the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) - and closed down by a US appeals court judge in 2001.
The following year, its assets were acquired by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann, but the reformed company quickly collapsed into bankruptcy.
Pr0n company Private Media Group briefly acquired the name, but the moniker and the software eventually ended up in the hands of software firm Roxio, in November 2002. Roxio went on, in May 2003, to buy PressPlay, a music subscription service started by Sony and Universal, and eventually relaunched it as Napster.
But its decision to offer music for rent rather than sale - subscribe and download as many tracks as you like, but they'll stop playing if you stop paying - proved a lot less popular than Apple's buy-and-download model.
Napster hobbled on, launching internationally in 2004, before being acquired by US retail giant Best Buy in September 2008 for a mere $121m.
Rhapsody - itself a music rental service, founded by erstwhile Apple rival Real Networks - bought Napster off Best Buy last month. Given the death of the name, Rhapsody clearly acquired Napster for its customer list, not its brand.
What of Napster UK? Will it go too? We're still waiting to hear from it, and we'll let you know when we do. ®
I miss the original Napster...
The saddest thing for me about the shutdown of the original Napster peer-to-peer music sharing service back in 2001 was not the loss of the ability to download commercially available music for free-- I actually very rarely ever did that. Instead, it was the loss of the ability to download rare music that wasn't commercially sold or otherwise available. On Napster, I was able to find MP3's of fan-made recordings of live concerts, of songs from early demo tapes of now famous bands from back when they were still obscure nobodies, of unreleased songs, of long out-of-print or extremely hard to find albums, and other such non-commercially available gems. It was thanks to Napster that I was able to listen to concerts performed by one of my favorite bands that were from tours that occurred when I was still in gradeschool and way too young to know or care about such things. How is the music industry hurt by me listening to MP3's of some random fan's personal recording of a concert that took place more than 20-years ago? How is the music industry hurt by me listening to MP3's of the songs from a demo tape of some now-famous band that they made while they were still an unknown garage band in high school? I didn't need Napster to download songs from commercially available CD's-- if I really liked a band I gladly bought their CD's and bought tickets to their shows. Heck, I have legally bought my favorite album of all-time 5-times now because I started buying it back in the cassette tape-era and kept wearing the tapes out until they broke because I played the darn thing so much. But some of those rare non-commercially available music tracks that used to be on Napster, well, I haven't seen most of them available anywhere (including other P2P networks) ever since, and that's a real loss for music enthusiasts everywhere.
Napster... G'd o'd times...
THAT was innovation at the time. Farewell then.
a crime against humanity
The people of the world got together and we all shared all of our culture. It was beautiful, anyone could get access to practically everything ever created, it could hardly have been improved on. Then the Recording Industry Ass. of America marshalled their forces and declared war on culture. Grandmothers were bankrupted for "stealing" music. RIAA rented politicians who made it more and more of a crime to posess an "unauthorized" recording of a performance. People of the future will look back on this time and shake their heads. The good fight carries on, splintered and underground, but totalitarianism can't win in the end. The internet is based on sharing, the World Wide Web is all about sharing, people instinctually share, often even when it costs (as it certainly *doesn't* when talking about digitized data). Some people think sharing is communist and that communism for some reason is evil. Mostly those people are the people who have more. Those people are losing, those people will lose.
If you went back 25,000 years, and told the cavemen sitting around the campfire to stop singing that song because its your song and you worked hard to create it so they have to give you 3 furs each time they perform it, you would have been banished from the tribe, and they would have laughed and kept singing "your" song. As it was and will and should be.
Your art has no value unless you share it. And once you share it, it's not yours anymore.
"Recording Industry Ass. of America"
But dude, this ain't "Napster"
Napster died 10 years ago. The abomination that's about to pass into the never-never has zero to do with that, it's just some corporate "brand".
I shed all my tears a long time ago.
Here's my (albeit untimely) tribute: http://media.slated.org/albums/userpics/10002/metallica-nothing-else-matters.png