MelodyVR is acquiring Napster to combine music streaming and live music virtual reality.
Rhapsody International, which trades as Napster, is currently 84% owned by RealNetworks, a Nasdaq-listed company. The $70 million acquisition will enable the creation of a music platform that will offer both immersive live performances and music streaming.
The Napster platform serves more than three million users across four continents and delivers more than 90 million licensed tracks to consumers and B2B partners.
Napster reported 10.8 billion streams and revenues of $113 million in 2019, following almost 20 years in business as a legitimate service.
For the time being, Napster and MelodyVR will continue to operate as independent businesses. In a statement, the acquisition was described as laying “the groundwork for a one-of-a-kind, future platform of combined entertainment services”.
MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett said: “MelodyVR’s acquisition of Napster will result in the development of the first ever music entertainment platform which 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.”
Napster CEO Bill Patrizio said: “This is a tremendous outcome for two organisations with complementary platforms and loyal 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 an even wider range of content to consumers, creators and advertisers.”
The combination of Napster’s library of audio tracks and MelodyVR’s catalogue of virtual live music shows will offer users an extensive audio and visual music experience.
According to the statement, the development will present new opportunities for the music industry and will provide music fans with the “world’s only destination to enjoy both live visual performances and recorded music”.
MelodyVR launched in 2018, and growth accelerated by the 2019 introduction of its smartphone app. High-profile collaborations with ABC’s Good Morning America, Live Nation and O2 Telefonica – as its exclusive 5G launch partner – have helped to establish the brand.
During Covid-19, MelodyVR set up its own safe studios in London and Los Angeles to enable artists to still perform. The resulting Live From LA series has to date welcomed numerous musicians through its doors.
MelodyVR has delivered shows from a diverse range of talent, including Post Malone, Cypress Hill, KISS, Lewis Capaldi, Kesha, Khalid, Luke Combs, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Panic! At the Disco and Tori Kelly.