Napster has finally been laid to rest. It is no longer officially in existence, being merged entirely with Rhapsody today after the company purchased it from Best Buy last month.
Best Buy will still retain a stake in Rhapsody; they have owned the rights to Napster since 2008. Those who have seen The Social Network will be familiar with its founder Sean Parker, a notorious Silicon Valley rebel who now sits on the board of directors over at Spotify.
Back when it launched in 1999 Napster was quite unlike anything people had used before. The iPod was still a twinkle in Apple's eye and the concept of cloud based music was unheard of. The lead manufacturers were Rio and Creative, but it was still a challenge to get digital music onto a player, requiring you to rip CDs.
It began as a quasi-legal music download service that used peer-to-peer networking. Most had never come across a service like it and many point to Napster as the piece of software which changed the way that music labels try and sell music. Without it, things like Spotify would likely never have existed.
Better to forget Napster's attempts at being a legal music service post 2001 shut down, none really ever truly succeeded. The company's legacy however lives on in the entirely changed landscape of music purchasing. Most have it to thank for far wider access and availability of quality audio. The diverse selection of music now available online is in part due to the furore that Napster created doing it illegally.
Spotify continues to go from strength to strength, most recently announcing app-based functionality and the inclusion of Last.fm. Good to see that Parker's attempts at changing the way we consume music still live on somewhere.
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