Napster has played its final tune after the ground-breaking file-sharing service merges operations with major digital music rival Rhapsody.
Yesterday, the pioneering file-sharing service, which launched in 1999, officially became part of Rhapsody, after it was sold to the rival music service by its parent company BestBuy, for an undisclosed sum last month.
It is the second time that the music service has shut down since its creation. A 19 year-old Shawn Fanning created the software which allowed people to exchange MP3 files on the web for free. He worked with Sean Parker to create the service, who subsequently became Facebook’s first president and a major shareholder. Parker’s story then became famous after Justin Timberlake played him in the US blockbuster, The Social Network, last year.
However, after the music industry and artists collectively launched several major legal cases against the start-up, it was forced to shut down in 2001.
Napster inspired a series of other similar services, such as LimeWire and Kazaa, which allowed people to illegally download music for free and share it with their friends. However, they too faced a series of lawsuits which brought their companies to an end.
Napster came back on to the digital music scene in 2003, but as a shadow of its former disruptive self, having repositioned itself as a legal music download service.
BestBuy then bought the service, from then owner Roxio in a deal estimated to have been worth $121m, which in turn then sold it onto to digital music subscription service Rhapsody.
Napster’s home page currently features a holding image saying: “Napster has joined Rhapsody”.
The digital music market has become increasingly competitive, especially after streaming services, such as Spotify, have become increasingly popular.