October 3, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Rhapsody Buys Napster – Napster Brand ‘Phased Out,’ Playlists Will Transfer (Updated)

napster best buy rhapsody

Best Buy is still selling Napster subscriptions today, even though it has agreed to sell Napster to Rhapsody.

Music subscription services have generated more interest than ever this year, as Spotify launched in the U.S., Facebook offered all of them a life-line in the form of deep feed integration, and the proliferation connected devices like smartphones made them more attractive than they were when you could only use Microsoft-DRM-enabled hardware to play the music they deliver.

Throughout it all, we heard nary a peep from Napster. Now we know why that may have been: Rhapsody announced on Monday that it plans to acquire the relatively beleaguered Napster from Best Buy, which paid $121 million for it in 2008. Under the terms of the deal, Rhapsody will acquire Napster’s subscribers and “certain other assets,” while Best Buy gets a minority stake in Rhapsody.

The “Napster” brand, which survived pivots from a P2P service to a subscription service to a being a division of Best Buy, appears to be dead (updated).

“In the U.S., the Napster brand name will be phased out as a subscription on-demand brand as part of this transaction and will be branded as Rhapsody,” Rhapsody public relations director Jaimee Steele told Evolver.fm.

As for users’ playlists and other data, Rhapsody plans to migrate that from Napster over to Rhapsody, after which it will announce an updated subscriber count (updated).

“All the content/data they have saved – including playlists – will be migrated to their Rhapsody account,” explained Steele. “The migration is expected to be completed by late November.”

The move is part of an expansion initiative by Rhapsody, as it heads off competition from Spotify, MOG, and Rdio.

“There’s substantial value in bringing Napster’s subscribers and robust IP portfolio to Rhapsody as we execute on our strategy to expand our business via direct acquisition of members and distribution deals,” said Rhapsody president Jon Irwin. “This is a ‘go big or go home’ business, so our focus is on sustainably growing the company… Our new members will have more places to connect to the music they love and to discover new favorites, guided by Rhapsody’s rockstar editorial team and the tastes of other Rhapsody members via our innovative social features.”

As for the Napster brand, Steele did not rule out the name being applied to something that’s not a “subscription, on-demand” brand. So what will it be… diapers (called “nappies” in the U.K.)? A hair product from Shawn Fanning, whose “nappy” hair spawned the name in the first place? We’ll have to wait and see, but for now, it’s clear that “Napster” as a subscription music service is gone for good.