MelodyVR has announced it is acquiring Rhapsody International, which operates under the Napster brand, for $70 million from RealNetworks, Inc., which owns 84% of the company.
The deal will enable the creation of the first music platform that will offer "both immersive live performances and music streaming," according to the announcement.
Napster counts more than three million users across the four continents its live in. Its licensed musical catalogue includes more than 90 million tracks.
The audio streaming platform reported 10.8 billion streams and revenues of $113 million in 2019.
While "the acquisition lays the groundwork for a one-of-a-kind, future platform," that combines audio and (live music) video streaming, Napster and MelodyVR will continue to operate as independent businesses for the time being, the announcement states.
When governments across the world banned live events in reaction to Covid, MelodyVR set up shop in dedicated studios in London and Los Angeles, where concerts were recorded and streamed live.
Up until today, 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.
MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett explained, “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 commented: “This is a tremendous outcome for two organizations 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.”