Napster acquired by UK virtual-events company

Napster’s catalogue will be used to create audio and visual music experience.

Napster: known for illegal downloads in early days (Getty Images)
Napster: known for illegal downloads in early days (Getty Images)

Napster has been acquired in a $70m (£53m) deal by virtual-events company MelodyVR, which intends to create a music platform that will offer both immersive live performances and music streaming.

Since 2016, the brand that was once a byword for illegal file-sharing has been the name of a streaming platform previously called Rhapsody. Before this acquisition, it was owned by US company RealNetworks.

UK-based MelodyVR now intends to combine its catalogue of virtual live music shows with Napster's library of audio tracks to offer users an audio and visual music experience.

As it stands, MelodyVR is a virtual-reality platform that gives consumers a view from the stage where they can watch artists' performances through a VR headset or using a smartphone.

This summer, following the cancellation of the physical event due to Covid-19, MelodyVR delivered a virtual experience for Wireless Festival. It recorded performances from artists in studios in London and Los Angeles, making the content available on its app and via Facebook Live.

Anthony Matchett, chief executive of MelodyVR, said: "MelodyVR's acquisition of Napster will result in the development of the first-ever music entertainment platform that combines immersive visual content and 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. 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."

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